It was after a day of travel that we reached the Ruins of Drabund. It wasn’t easy at all to sleep while being on Pero’s back at night. My body ached for sitting for so long. But the great sights that I had had the opportunity to witness at night had been totally worth it. There was no better feeling than flying thousands of feet above the ground, the moon casting its silvery light on us and the clouds that surrounded us. It had felt like something straight out of a really nice dream. There would also be the villages of the Raks, such a great distance below us. Sometimes the villages had fires lit, but the fires looked like mere dots from our position in the sky.
We landed on the ground about a kilometre from the Ruins of Drabund because we didn’t know what kind of danger lurked in the ruins. Whatever monster or monsters dwelled there was probably a hundred times more powerful than the strongest Rak I had ever killed. I knew that there was a great possibility that I might die during this most unique of quests. But there was some comfort in the knowledge that if I died I would wake up in my room back at the Ravana inn, although I would have levelled down to the first level and most of my abilities would have gone.
The place we landed away from the Ruins of Drabund was one of dense vegetation. There were centipedes and millipedes of extremely large sizes in the trees surrounding us. This was probably because Dinoland was not far away.
The ruins of Drabund seemed to be the last standing walls of what might have been an old castle. The roof of the castle had long gone. At least that was what I could see from the distance.
I climbed down from Pero’s back and so did Mastermind.
“Thank you Pero,” Mastermind told his pet, patting him on the head. “You can return now. But I might need you again in a few hours, so please stay alert. It is bad that you have to work so hard for me, but I am thankful for everything you are doing.”
I watched as just a few metres away a giant spider, at least the size of a human head, was on a tree. I felt a chill climb down my spine. I had always had a fear of insects and spiders. Thinking of them alone made me feel creepy. I wished we had landed closer to the ruins, because we had to go through the jungle for one kilometre now to reach the ruins. I preferred the jungles surrounding Kapilpura much more than this one, because they weren’t that dense despite possessing their own unique dangers.
“I don’t like this jungle,” I said.
“Neither do I,” said Mastermind, and he had a wince pasted on his face. It didn’t look like he was overly found of giant spiders and other crawling creatures. “But this needs to be done and so we must do it.”
We began to make our way through the jungle. It was more like wading through the vegetation. The place where we had landed seemed to have been a pond that had dried up, and the shrubs and grasses grew thick. I was very afraid that I would step on some snake. A bite might make my health drop to zero faster than I could drink a health vial, not to mention I had only a few health vials remaining now. I took out my sword from my bag, and began to clear the vegetation in front of me, hacking and slashing a path through the vegetation towards the ruins. Just then, I had an idea. Mastermind had easily destroyed the floor in the library. Would it be possible for him to make a straight way to the ruins by using his spell? I told him this.
“I am not quite sure of that,” Mastermind said. He looked divided. “What if I use my spell and the monsters dwelling in the ruins become alert?”
That was an issue. But I felt like whatever monster was in the ruin already knew that we had come, and it was probably watching us at the moment. But since Mastermind was hesitating, I decided to use my own powers. I summoned Danav and Danavma.
“You seem to have come a long way from home,” Danavma said.
“Yeah,” I said, “I guess this place is closer to your home?”
“Much closer than Kapilpura was for sure,” said Danavma, looking at the vegetation surrounding us.
“Can you help us get to the ruins by creating a path through this vegetation?” I asked.
The two monkey people were quite ready to do it. I gave Danavma my sword and she hacked at the bushes and the shrubs. Little Danav (who was not quite little right now since he had inflated his size and was nearly as big as his mother) didn’t require any sword (although Mastermind had a spare one and had offered it to him). Danav just uprooted the bushes and shrubs with his bare hands and helped his mother clear the way.
“I like your pets,” Mastermind said to me, now that we were making much faster progress towards the ruins of Drabund. “They talk. My conversations with Pero are one sided.”
“I guess you can get pterodactyls as pets only after a particular level?” I asked. I reckoned bigger the beast; the more experienced a player must be to make pets of them.
“Yes. Level 50 is necessary to have a pet like Pero. Otherwise you cannot control them,” Mastermind replied.
It took us a good hour, but we were finally able to reach the ruins, which stood on a slightly elevated ground and there was a less vegetation around it. The ruins themselves were covered in moss at quite a few places. There were also many stone slabs lying on the ground, that were in partially degraded condition by wind and water and other elements. The ruins were much bigger than what they had seemed from the distance and covered a large area. And the walls which sometimes stood alone and sometimes partially joined with other walls seemed to have become some kind of a mage, and it wouldn’t be easy to get out of the ruins if someone was suddenly placed in its centre.
I wondered for a moment if I should send Danav and Danavma away. But I felt safer with them around and I didn’t tell them to go, although they had completed the task I had originally called them for. Danavma handed me back my sword and I held its hilt tightly. I didn’t know what dangers would be falling upon us in the next few moments.
“So,” I said to Mastermind, who was observing the ruins much like me, “what next?”
But before Mastermind could reply, an old man stepped out from behind a wall. He was a frail man with a dark complexion. He seemed to have more bones than flesh and his skin was just attached to his skeleton. He wore old robes that looked quite dirty like they hadn’t been washed in months. I wondered if the old man had even taken them off in months. The old man had greying hair and a white beard.
“Who are you?” Mastermind asked the old man.
I tried to focus on the man and get his details. But I failed. Was this a perma player? But something inside me told that the old man was probably not what he seemed and it was best to be on high alert.
“I live in these ruins. This is my home,” the old man said, his voice coarse. He was looking at us with narrow eyes and he didn’t seem very pleased that we had come, “In fact, I should be the one asking you who you are.”
“We come seeking for the artefact that can be used in putting together the greater artefact that can help us destroy Death13,” Mastermind replied.
The old man chuckled. His chuckle didn’t lighten the tension. Instead it made the tension thicker. I could hear Danavma’s heart beating fast, even she and her son seemed scared. I still wondered if it was better to send them home. But I was selfish and wanted to be protected from all threats.
“You should never seek immortality,” the old man said. “Go away. This is my last warning to you. If you do not return, what befalls you shall be something of your own fault.”
“We cannot return,” I found myself speaking, “doing so would mean that many perma players would be forever wiped out from this world.”
“That is none of my concern,” the man said.