Somnium – The MMORPG

Chapter 28

The floor rumbled as the embedded roots tore themselves out of the earth. It felt like standing directly on an earthquake's epicentre; my bones were shaking so vigorously, it felt that they would be dislocated just from the shock.

"Tsk. You leave me no choice." Ellielza said under her breath. "GEAR TWO!"

The pencil shaft-like hexagonal rod started to glow as she channeled her mana into it. A hole appeared on the tip facing the tree, resembling a Gatling gun's barrel. Two lathes launched out of shaft's body with a bowstring attached to either ends. A system of delicate lenses also sprang out of the rod. Sweet. A crossbow, a huge one as well. It even had a sniper scope. Just spiffing.

She chucked a small shard of red crystal into the barrel, and stretched the bowstring, charging the shot as a crimson light shined brighter and brighter by the muzzle's mouth.

"That's some quality brandite there." Ellielza commented. Fang nodded in agreement.

Two little twigs sprouted from the tree trunk, bursting into massive branches greatly resembling claws. Each of them twisting and turning, eager to dig themselves into our skulls and annihilate every single one of us.

A scream came from the tree again. My ears were ringing and it felt like someone rubbing sandpaper in the inside of my cochleae.

"BOSS BATTLE: EDENIC TREANT." A window popped up and swiftly disappeared.

"HA!" Fang's fist blasted through the tree trunk, splitting it in half. Splinters were flying into every direction.

"Got it!" Alex nabbed the Fruit as he dashed over.

"Stand back. WILDFIRE!" Ellielza shouted. Flames roared from the barrel and completely consumed the plant as the fire rapidly disintegrated it into a pile of charcoal and ashes, ultimately frying it.

"Wow… I expected more." I stood there and did nothing.

The flames died out, leaving a charred crater in the centre of the room. Embers still blazed within the arteries of a few notable chunks of burnt wood.

"Now what should we do with this?" Alex asked.

"How arrogant." A voice that didn't belong to the Valkyries echoed the perimeter.

An instant constrain spiraled up my right leg. A vine? Of course, how would it be this easy?

I tried tugging it.

Surprise! It didn't do any good.

"ARGH!" Thorns immediately speared out from the vine and it grasped deeper into my flesh. My trousers were dyed into a shade of dark red. But it wasn't done yet: the twisting continued until I heard a loud crunch. I fell over in agony, biting my lips in pain. The vine dragged me down into the earth, half-burying me alive. My health was in near the red zone.

A couple of vines also pierced out of the earth, luckily they didn't cause much damage on them. Alex and Fang were basically slicing every single one near them like ninjas.

The ground started to shake again, further crushing a few bits and pieces of bone, staining my health bar red.

A piano-sized bud emerged from the scorched soils. It turned from lime green to a mature teal within seconds. The next moment, pure white petals bloomed out of the bud. In the centre of the flower sat a young girl around my age, veiled in a forest green himation. Her hair flowed down her back like golden threads and it shined like honey in the light. A crown of white lilies sat around her head. She slowly opened her eyes, revealing a pair of harlequin irises, looking at us and laid her eyes on Fang.

"You." The same voice appeared before came from the girl. She stood up and started to walk towards her. "It's you. IT'S YOU!" She stretched her left hand towards her. Her fingers morphed into vines and grew straight at her swiftly, lignifying in process, charging right into Fang.

Without even a trace of fear on her face, Fang shot her palm in front of her chest just before being impaled, sending the Edenic Treant's extended fingers straight into the wall behind her. Nice reactions.

"YOU CUT IT DOWN, DIDN'T YOU?" The Treant's eyes widened and her face strained as her massive wooden arm shriveled back to her original nimble one.

A tree shot up from the ground. Its branches tangled around Alex's left foot, dangling him upside down, leaving him quite helpless. The Fruit dropped from his grasp and landed on the floor.

"AND YOU TOOK THE FRUIT!" She glared at him with a murderous intent. "UNFORGIVABLE!"

The branches slithered down Alex's body swiftly, crunching him in an awfully painful position.

Vines were crawling towards the Fruit like snakes, then toasted black by Ellielza's low powered shots. Not a single burn mark could be seen on the Fruit though.

"Tsk. Tsk. Not under my watch." She blew the steam emerging from the barrel.

A twig lingered down the Treant's either arms from her garments and grew into a pair of venus flytraps the size of a great white shark's jaw. Vicious liquid oozed between its razor sharp teeth, dripping onto the floor, eating though anything it touched like a hot knife cutting though butter.

Her crazed eyes turned to me.

Crap.

The thorns were still biting into my flesh. Half of my leg was buried in the ground. I was totally defenseless and immobile.

The Treant started to step towards me. Her pace went faster and faster. She started to dash. Her right flytrap opened up wide, ready to shred me to bits.

It suddenly got darker. A wing had shielded me just in time. Good. Maybe I could buy some time to get out of this…

The air smelt acidic. A bit hot in here too.

A hole appeared in the wing, growing larger and larger. The edges of it were sizzling from the acid. Damn! I forgot titanium was as reactive as aluminium! Never knew that real life chemistry would apply to the game though…

The flytrap's fangs tore through the wing easily like it was just wrapper paper. A drop of the flytrap's saliva fell onto my right arm. A flaming sensation burned on that spot. The affected skin turned black and a bit of the muscle beneath turned to a mush.

I had to do something fast.

I quickly glugged an HP potion.

I channeled half of my mana into my hand. A jet of blue flame flared around my arm as I clenched my fist.

"Take THIS!" I withdrew my wing, threw my fist and clenched the flytrap by the stalk, locking my fingers like a clamp. The flames climbed up the plant and roasted it. The flytrap puked a mouthful of acid onto my arm as it burned and suffocated. A hue of white was revealed among the oozing bloody red mush. I locked my jaw tighter.

Screaming in pain, she was forced to rip her wrist off the flytrap. In tears, she clasped her other flytrap into my shoulder and a bit of my back.

Panicked, I tried tearing it off, then tried punching desperately. Nothing worked. My health continued to drain as the acid corroded my muscles. It felt like being bitten by a venomous snake. My health bar was down to red within seven seconds.

"Get him out of the way!" Ellielza commanded.

Fang dashed over to me.

With a swing of her dagger, the Treant's arm fell off.

The flytrap's bite loosened.

"I'm sorry. I don't think there's any other way." She said by my ear as she grabbed me.

"Huh-" She tugged me to where Alex was.

Wait… How was I free? I thought I was stuck.

I looked down to see a severed knee. The pain must be so intense I didn't realise it was chopped off.

My health bar was at the verge of death. I chugged vialfuls of HP potion down my throat. My missing leg grew back, my skin was good as new and the bite marks had closed up.

"Done." Fang dusted her hands.

"Great." Ellielza aimed her fully charged up oversized crossbow at the Treant, who was confused by what had just happened. "WILDFIRE!"

Fire rushed out of the barrel, fully engulfing the Treant just like when it was on the tree. She screamed again. Instead of anger, this time it was full of agony. From the slight shadow within the flames, I could barely make out her movements. Her mouth as wide as it could, screeching her voice out. Her hands were by her face, tense from suffering. It reminded me 'The Scream' the painting.

The flames retreated. The Treant stood there, not even a burnt mark could be found on her.

"No way…" I said.

How could we even defeat her if that didn't work? There weren't even instructions to defeat her! Wait… Instructions? The forums did say that there would be some clues hinting how to proceed up the next level though…

We must had missed something…

We didn't get much from the pedestal though… It was the only thing that provided hints in the room… I'd better read its inscriptions again.

"Tsk. This just gets tougher and tougher…" A bead of sweat rolled down Ellielza's face. "WILDFIRE!"

As we expected a pile of ash within the blast radius, there stood a big chunk of burnt wood, slowly regenerating into the Treant it once was.

She shot again. Only to find that the charred piece of wood was more human-shaped and bigger than it was previously.

"Stop it." Fang pushed the crossbow away from the Treant. "The time intervals between her deaths decrease as we kill her. Not to mention her defense as well."

Within seconds, roots shoved themselves down into the soil. The soot crusted off the bark. Branches sprouted out again. What stood in front of them was the animated tree Ellielza incinerated earlier.

"Welcome to the Garden of Arcadia… Thou shalt not steal the Fruit of Knowledge of Good and Evil, for the Tree would unleash its wrath upon thee…" I clenched my hands on the pedestal, desperately rereading every single inscription. "Damn! I can't find anything!"

I kept staring at the pedestal while the girls tried fending the Treant off. A series of small dark specks caught my eyes. I stuck my face as close as possible as it was shaped like a word.

"Antaeus?" I read it out. Sounded awfully familiar…

"The roots… Don't let them get into the ground…" Alex murmured as he was struggling to ingest a HP potion whilst being hung upside down. "Ah… So much better." His wings unfolded, snapping the twigs and vines like threads, and he fell onto the grass.

Antaeus… Not touching the ground… Regaining strength… I guessed it made sense. As the son of mother earth, Gaia, Antaeus would be incredibly strong as long as he was in contact with his mother. Once lifted from the ground, he was just like any other ordinary man. Thank you Classical Civilisations Classes, you just saved my quest.

Alex stood up and stared at me.

I stared back with a smile. Great. He knew.

I hoped he knew what he was doing.

Gusts of wind slapped against my suit as Alex's wings went on Hummingbird mode.

A gale blasted into me from behind. Mr. Ledovskoy wasn't there anymore in a blink of an eye.

"Put me down, mortal!" The Treant flung her woody limbs around as Alex lifted both of them a good ten metres high up the chamber. A downpour of twigs and leaves showered the charred ground directly beneath them.

"Just… Stop moving around!" He threw her up into the air. "Eat ice!" Four ice stakes formed above his palms and pinned the Treant like a crucified criminal, into the white clay ceiling above. "NOW!" He dived down.

The Valkyire inserted an extra big lump of brandite crystal with a special shade of vermillion into her crossbow shaft.

The radius felt like an oven. Sweat dewed on both Fang's and Ellielza's faces.

"WILDFIRE!" Her face was crimson from light of the charging attack at the muzzle.

A spear of fire gushed into the ceiling, roaring like an oriental dragon, smiting all that was in its way until everything in its path was completely consumed. Fang and I back away from Ellielza as we were terribly uncomfortable with the temperature. I narrowed my eyes as I looked up at the Treant due to the blaze which went on for a good eight seconds.

The colours of the chamber faded from crimson and amber to their original one as the calming sunrays bathed the garden.

The whole ceiling was ebony from the attack. A tiny clump of coal the size of a pill fell into the ground from where the Treant was pinned.

Ellielza was panting and sweating heavily. She looked at us and gave a thumb up.

"The victory confirmation's not out yet." Fang braced herself with her silver dagger.

As she expected, flakes of charcoal peeled off the remaining piece of wood, revealing a layer of brown lignin beneath. Cuticles and cuticles of roots sprouted, lignifying within seconds, reaching for the ground desperately like claws of desperate people.

"Shoot again, Ellielza!" I yelled.

"I can't! I need to recharge my mana!" She quickly stuck another brandite crystal in her crossbow and drank an MP potion.

"Hya!" Fang and I swung our weapons in the air, chopping of the vines before they could dig themselves into the soil.

"Stop! You're making it worse!" Alex, who was still hovering in the air, exclaimed. "Stop what you are doing Jaycee and Fang!"

The roots had already covered the ground like hay straws in a barn.

"Crap…" I said under my breath.

"WILDFIRE!" Ellielza fired again. Her expressions showed extreme fatigue, her stance was slouching, she was perspiring vigourously.

Flames filled up the air again.

Alex barely managed to dodge the attack, as the fire just skimmed across his wings, slightly deforming them.

The fire retreated and the piece of wood pinned to the ceiling was truly no more.

My attention then fell upon one of the twigs on the ground. I wasn't sure if I were seeing things: it wiggled a bit.

An irritating itch crawled up my back. It then stopped.

A flakey leaf tickled my face as I looked down to find a shade of green and brown just by my chest.

Wait… Leaf?

Like piano strings, it crushed around my neck, just at the verge of snapping my head off, ultimately sealing the air off my trachea. My Adam's apple felt like it had almost shattered into pieces as my health bar shrunk.

"Ahh…" A gasp leaked out of my voice box as I dropped my scythe to pull the vines out of the way, only to find my efforts futile.

My chest tensed as my lungs were dying to suck the oxygen from the air, however not a single molecule of air managed to get though. Only a half a minute until it would kill me, judging by the rate of damage.

I had to think fast. An Undertaker should not bring infamy upon his Parlor.

The scythe was completely entangled by vines as I looked down. No good.

Suddenly, the constraint was gone, as if someone tore the suffocation off me with a swipe.

"You're just helpless are you?" Fang threw the vine into the ground. "This is never gonna end"

Nodding in agreement, my wings sprang out like an array of hidden blades from the backpack and beating as a hummingbird would. A blast of wind exploded, pushing the approaching vines further back.

I channeled more mana into the wings as I took a slurp from another HP potion. Nothing's better than a vial strawberry juice.

As more vines approached, they were instantly chopped into sheds as soon as they had contact with the titanium wings. The ground was covered in green shreds, some were wiggling: not a good sight.

Fang tore a couple of stalks embedded in the ground, along with a clump of dirt with ease, as if it were cotton candy. Toasting them into ashes as she threw them into the air, frying them with punches that seemed to spark the air with charges.

They fell onto the ground. Lifeless.

"WUZZAT?" I exclaimed as the wings chainsawing through the foliage that wanted us to die so badly.

Fang revealed an aureolin crystal embedded in her gauntlet, with an occasional static spark whizzing in the air around the stone. Vrondite.

"CAN YOU USE MAGIC?" I shouted as my throat felt being grated against sandpaper. "LEVATATION BY CHANCE?"

She nodded as another stash of blackened twigs rained down into the ground. She should understand what I was intending.

"Пла́вайте!" She seemed to mouth the spell as the coarse racket of chopping and shredding filled the air, threatening to gnaw through our eardrums.

As if gravity had been turned off, pieces and bits of plant rose into the air helplessly like being in outer space. A vine tried clawing onto Alex's neck, but failed as it floated higher up into the air.

My wings had halted the flapping and folded elegantly back into the backpack as soon as the mana supply from me was cut.

A flake of black fluttered down from above, disintegrating as it traveled down the air.

The air was filled with static; my hairs stood up on their ends.

The blackness covered the floor as if black snow had covered ground.

Fang was nowhere to be seen. Just a shade of black swiping around in the air, amongst the brittle pieces of floating charcoal.

"REWARD: 3450 EXP. LEVEL UP! YOU ARE NOW LEVEL 31!" A window appeared in front of me. Yes!

"Hey, is it me or is it getting brighter and brighter?" Asked Alex.

I looked around. My supposing black coat was grey. Yup. It was getting a bit too bright.

"What's happening?" I asked. No one replied.

The colours of everything: every plant, every player, every clay brick… faded out of my retinas, the blankness punched through my pupils like thousands of flash bangs setting off at the same time.

To be Continued…

Note: Hi, I'm still not dead yet. I apologise for not posting anything due to my exams and art coursework.