Ultimate Level 1

Chapter 171: What Grows in a Garden
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Chapter 171: What Grows in a Garden

The ground was covered in yellow gems, and even a branch lay on the stone path.

“It’s a crafting ingredient,” Fowl informed everyone after he picked it up. “For a moment, I wasn’t sure if it was misbehaving healers.”

“Tanila… you both killed all of them without really a scratch,” Cordellia finally got out after her initial shock. “I forgot to attack. Does… how… this is impossible. Killing that many at once! I’ve never heard of someone doing it that way before.”

“Neither had we,” Max replied, turning to see that Fowl had already collected most of the gems. “We don’t want to fight like others. We want to use our brains. Tell us if you think of something outside the box that might work. Why let the tower tell you how to fight if you can do it your way?”

The archer stood there for a moment and began to nod slowly. “You’re right. There were a few times I thought perhaps the group I was with could do something different, but they never thought it was a good idea. Are you saying it's okay to try something new?”

“None of us will say no immediately. Tell us what you think and why, and if we can, we’ll try it. Trust me, the first time we did this, Fowl thought we were crazy.”

“They are crazy!” Fowl shouted, still picking up the last few gems.

“Now what?” Cordellia asked, motioning to the path Max had pulled the creatures along.

“We wait for his taunt cooldown to reset, and I’ll go pull more. I’ll bring as many as I can this time, so make sure to attack.”

Cordellia nodded and glanced at Batrire, who was reading a book.

“Ignore me, dear,” Batrire said, not looking up from the page she was reading. “I’ve got nothing to do. I picked this up after the goatmen dungeon, and I’m glad I did.”

Max laughed and pulled out a large backpack. From it, he pulled out two small chairs.

“Not much, but take a seat.”

Cordellia groaned yet still smiled, moving to where Max had pointed.

This group was nothing like she could ever have imagined.

“Holy elf tits!” Fowl cursed as he jumped up and down, trying to get a better view of the horde approaching them. Max was running out in front of more monsters than he could count or imagine, keeping ahead of them and occasionally sending a fireball at the group.

“He’s going to kill them all,” Tanila muttered.

“What?” Batrire asked. “You’re certain?”

“Look at your experience bar. It’s been going up. I’m guessing he’s killed at least ten just getting that many here.”

Moving into position, Tanila got ready, waiting to see the actual number Max had brought back.

Her fireball, combined with Max’s once he was behind Fowl, killed all but two trees, allowing Max to jog back out and hack them to pieces.

“Come on, man,” Fowl groaned. “Did you seriously do that?”

Max shrugged and motioned to the massive amount of yellow gems littering the stone path. “I found a clearing and killed a few there, gathering more. After we collect all these items and those on the path, we can move up to the clearing. There are a few more paths to try off of it.”

“You say that like you didn’t just almost solo the whole pack,” Tanila said as she joined Max and Fowl in collecting the drops. A petal, another crafting item, was on the ground and was stored.

“Can I ask a question?” Cordellia whispered, having jogged up next to Tanila.

“Sure, but you don’t have to whisper. We’re family.”

Everyone chuckled at Tanila’s statement, but no one paid any attention to the two women conversing.

She nodded slowly in response to Tanila’s reply and bit her lip for a moment. Finally, pointing a finger at Max, she spoke. “Just how strong is he?”

Tanila couldn’t help herself, bursting out in laughter, catching Cordellia off guard and making the woman’s cheeks and ears turn red. Fowl and Batrire also chuckled, doing their best to be a little more courteous and not be as loud.

After catching her breath and sighing, Tanila bent down and picked up a gem, holding it in her finger for a moment. She held it out to Cordellia and offered it to her. “Crush it. Tell me what you feel.”

With a raised eyebrow, the archer took it and broke it between her fingers, feeling the power entering her. It was like a trickle now. The higher she climbed, the slower and less it felt. She would soon hit level fifty-five at the speed at which they were clearing this tower floor. With the gems from yesterday, she was now on her fourth level in the tower. Even with a tiny drop like this, she felt stronger. Like the gods themselves were bending down and putting a finger on her.

“He’s touched by the gods?” Cordellia half asked, half stated in shock.

“Am I also touched?” Tanila asked, her eyes now locked on the brown eyes of their archer.

A case of theft: this story is not rightfully on Amazon; if you spot it, report the violation.

Bobbing her head, Cordellia acknowledged that all elves believed royalty was.

“Then there shouldn’t be any more questions about how or why. Just know he is stronger than me, and I’m ok with that.”

Cordellia stared at Max for a moment and then moved quickly, picking up the tiny gems without being asked.

“This is a pretty decent size clearing,” Fowl stated as they stood in a giant square stone-covered area of the tower. “At least sixty yards on each side from the center.”

“And three other paths,” Batrire pointed out, motioning to the arches embedded in the stone walls. “Which one do we want to try first?”

After following the stone path, they entered through a stone arch and were surrounded by twenty-foot stone walls, but behind them, they knew there were more of the same plants and other things out there.

Max shrugged and motioned to Cordellia. “Why don’t you pick? We’ll see what I find down that one first.”

“Why me?”

“Because when Tanila picks, we end up taking the long way,” Fowl answered.

Tanila scowled for a moment before nodding that Fowl was right.

“How about the right one then?” Cordellia asked. “Never hurts to be right.”

Fowl chuckled and motioned to everyone to move back a little closer to where they had come.

“We’re ready when you are,” Fowl announced as his clothes shifted back to his plate armor and two shields.

Max nodded and began to move toward the arch on the right, only to realize Tanila was coming up behind him. “Do you Need something?” he asked with a wink.

“Not that,” she replied, rolling her eyes but smiling. “Walk with me for a moment. I have a question.”

When they were out of hearing range, Tanila finally said what was on her mind.

“You’re able to do what you are because you get mana back from killing all those monsters.”

“Are you asking or telling me?” Max asked.

“We both know I’m right,” she replied before motioning to the group back at the arch they had come through. “Do you really need us at all?”

Wincing, Max frowned as he stared at the group waiting on them. “In here? No. I’ve figured out how to keep them bunched together, using the new Frost Nova to slow down the faster ones. They’re all melee, which is weird, and I don’t get any stats anymore. I got nine points of constitution at the beginning, so I’m guessing one hundred and thirty is the max stat in here so far. Honestly, I’m a bit blown away by how things work and unsure of what to do. I didn’t want to reveal my whole skill set, but that mage lizard almost made me go all out.

Tanila nodded. Smiling, she grabbed his hand and squeezed it. “Well, go have fun soloing the tower… I’ll sit here getting stronger by doing nothing but looking pretty.”

Max laughed and rose slightly on his toes, kissing her on the lips before darting off toward the arch.

“Be ready! I’ll be back soon!”

Touching her lips, Tanila smiled and made her way back to the others.

Thuyja, I owe you a few extra tithes…

Max had over sixty monsters following him when he returned.

Tanila had monitored his mana bar, which would decrease and then shoot back up, gaining a trickle of experience as he killed and gained mana back.

“Look alive!” Fowl shouted as the horde of plants, trees, and mushrooms with massive teeth and stretchy arms pushed past each other into the clearing.

“Most appear almost dead!” Tanila announced. She turned toward Cordellia and smiled.

“Why don’t you take a crack at them?”

The archer nodded and unleashed a volley on the creatures as they came through the stone archway, three waves of arrows pounding tight space and killing a few in the process.

“Two fireballs!” Max declared as he spun around near Fowl.

After both of their fireballs exploded upon the masses, a cloud of green gas appeared where the dead plants were.

“Stay back! That’s the mushrooms!”

It took a minute, and eventually, the cloud of gas that had appeared vanished, leaving only a collection of yellow gems and a few materials on the ground.

“What are those?” Fowl asked.

“Something new and not what I had expected. Their poison isn’t something you want to experience. You four give me a minute. I’m going to go back and collect the gems that are waiting back there, and then I’ll check out the next path. That way led to a clearing, but no exit that I could find.”

“So, just sit and wait on you?” Fowl said as he started walking toward the loot.

“About what you’re used to,” Max replied, smiling as he took off.

Fowl glanced at Batrire, who had gone back to reading her book. “You’re not going to help?”

Batrire shook her head and waved him away with a hand. “No… for once, I’m going to do nothing and enjoy it. Now, back to work.”

Their warrior groaned momentarily before collecting the loot he had done nothing to earn. 𝑓𝑟𝑒𝓮𝓌𝑒𝒷𝘯ℴ𝑣𝓮𝓁.𝒸ℴ𝘮

A brief moment passed where Tanila had held her breath, Max’s health going below half and then quickly rose along with his mana. A bigger chunk than usual of experience came during that moment.

“Is he ok?” Cordellia asked.

Biting her lip, Tanila nodded, trying to be brave, but she wasn’t sure.

More experience poured in and about ten minutes later, Max came jogging toward them, covered in a purple goo.

“I need a cure!” Max shouted. “Poisoned!”

Batrire moved quickly, casting her spell, and the purple goo faded from Max’s armor and body.

“Ok, that one was fun, and we need to head that way anyway.”

“You almost died,” Fowl stated, “and yet you’re telling us it was fun?”

“Exactly!” Max replied, excited about something. “I’m assuming this is the right path as the clearing at the end of the path I took has an exit, but there is a creature inside the clearing. It will be fun trying to defeat it. I got clumped up among the plants trying to get back to you all and had to run through the area off the path. Just as a heads up, some of the fruit explodes if you get close and poisons you.”

“He’s still smiling about all this,” Cordellia pointed out. “Like… it’s a game.”

“To him, I guess it is,” Tanila replied with a shrug. “Besides, if Seth’s this excited about something, I can’t wait to see what it is.

Having collected all the drops on the way Max was leading, he was practically giddy when they made the last turn and headed toward the stone arch leading to another clearing.

Ignoring the trees, different fruits, plants, and flowers on the side, an even larger stone wall appeared, this one over forty feet high, blocking out any view inside except through the ten-foot wide arch.

“Is that a tree?” Fowl asked as he moved near the arch, only to stop when he saw what it was.

“A giant sunflower?” Cordellia asked, standing next to the dwarf who had yet to enter the clearing.

“The teeth on that thing and those spikes,” Batrire said, motioning at the thirty-foot-tall plant. “Something tells me this might be a bad idea.”

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