Gunnar drove the head of his great two-handed warhammer downward, cracking the squeaking lizard in two. The buffalo looked around, wiping the sweat from his brow. "Have we got much further to go?"
With a fiery snap of her fingers and a movement of her paw that had become so normal that it was something that she could do without thinking about it, Exra unleashed a great wash of flame upon her foe. The lizard sizzled for a moment before it collapsed. "Two more chambers of these trash mobs" she said, "then we're at the boss."
Roka sighed. He actually rather liked the quest that had brought him to this dungeon. It was set in an abandoned temple and all around the group swirled clouds of dust that spoke of a ruin long since forgotten about and left to decay. The area was dangerous, and he could feel the tension and the sense of threat in the air. For that reason, this adventure would require them all, the entire guild, to ensure its successful completion.
It had been Gunnar's idea. This dungeon was not only a necessary step on their way towards reaching the game's highest levels, but would also reward them for their effort. The boss that awaited them at the end of this dungeon dropped high level gear. High enough level gear, thought the dog, to ensure that the guild would be able to hit their maximum levels in only a matter of weeks.
It was too appealing an option for them to miss.
The buffalo nodded. "Right, that's enough time to try this out. Everyone switch to voice channel."
Roka felt himself grow a little nervous. He knew his guildmates all by now, he even trusted them. But so far, he had never actually heard any of them speak, not really. The game had, instead, only ever provided the illusion of speech, a combination of pre-set voice options for certain character emotions and situations mixed with the ubiquitous presence of each character's text box. The cleric had long since almost forgotten that his own voice was not, indeed, his own, but merely 'male god voice number four'.
He turned on his microphone. "Hello?" he said, uncertainly.
"That you, Roka?" came a voice from his speakers. A voice, without the elegant polish that signified a pre-recorded dialogue sample. It sounded... normal, he thought. The voice of anyone else on the street.
"Yeah" he answered. "Gunnar, right?"
There was a muffled rattle of static.
"That's me" came the voice. Roka thought for a moment that he could detect a slight accent, but not any that struck him as being especially exotic. Definitely from the same country, he thought. The voice continued, "Are we all here?"
"I am" said another voice. This one did strike the cleric as being different. It was a woman's voice, and one that carried with it a certain depth. "Are we ready to do this?"
Another soft muffle of static sounded, audibly similar to a sock being rubbed against a coarse wall.
Roka listened, considering the woman’s voice. The depth carried with it a sense of age, the heaviness that a maturity of the vocal cords brought. It wasn't really raspy, he thought, but it was definitely the voice of an older woman. "Who's that?" he asked.
"It's me, dummy" said the voice.
"That doesn't help" explained the cleric. He was confused. The voice didn't seem to fit. It seemed too old to be the voice of either the excitable, perpetually energetic Exra, or the cool sultry timber that he expected from Aria.
There was another rustle of static.
The voice replied, "You're Roka, right? Maybe we should each say who we..." The voice was interrupted with a loud, determined meow. "Shh, quiet!" said the woman's voice.
Roka said quickly. "That's you, isn't it Exra?"
"Of course it is" said Gunnar, "who else would it be?"
Another muffled burst of static wafted past.
Roka perked up, "Was that your cat?"
After a short pause, Exra said "One of them."
"Wait" said the Canine, "one of them? How many do you have?"
"Just a few" said Exra.
Roka's mind boggled at the thought. A 'few' cats?
Gunnar glanced around. "Okay, that's three of us. Where's Aria?"
On the screen, Roka noticed that Aria's text box had popped open, a series of words appearing in a quick succession. "I can hear you. Just tell me what you need killing and I'll handle it, guys."
"Aria won't be using mic" said another voice.
Roka blinked. This new voice was higher, much younger than he had expected. It was male, he thought, but young enough to leave him a slight scrap of doubt. "Who's that?" he asked. "Gunnar, this is a private guild channel, right?"
"Everyone who is here should be here" said Exra, "I set up the channel myself."
"Can we just get a move on?" said the child's voice, "I want to kill the boss."
"Whoa, hang on" said Roka. "How old are you? Twelve?"
The voice sounded offended now. "I'm fourteen, you dipstick!" he snapped back.
"Mind your language" scolded Exra in a peculiarly motherly tone.
Roka bit his lip. He had no idea that someone in his guild was so young. He tried to think who it could be. Who was the most childish, the most immature? "Is that you, Biggie?" he asked.
There was another muffle of static.
"No” said Exra, “I’ve spoken with Biggie before, that’s-”
Roka blinked. If it wasn't Aria, then the boy could only be one other person. "Syc?" asked the cleric. "You're fourteen?"
"Can we get a move on?" asked the boy. "I want to see the boss before it's midnight."
Exra spoke up, "Isn't it a school night?"
"Okay" said Gunnar, "We are still missing Biggie."
Once more, a rumble of static crossed the channel.
Roka looked up, his eyes scanning the roof of the chamber as if seeking an idea. Finally, he said "Biggie?"
Another rumbling, muffled burst of static echoed.
The cleric sighed. "Biggie, can you move the microphone away from your mouth?"
There was a longer, less muffled crackle.
"A bit further, sweetie" said Exra, "about three inches away from your lips."
There was a series of crackles, and then something that sounded like a heavily accented mid-European voice calling out "thing is not working maybe?"
Roka felt the urge to laugh. Success, he thought. "That's it Biggie, can you hear us?"
"Yes" came the voice, in a dialect that made it sound almost like 'yaus', "it is working better. We ready to go?"
"I think so" said Roka.
Aria nodded, "I'm ready" she answered. Roka could only imagine the sound of her real voice. He thought, surely it had to be smooth, caramel-like, possibly edged with sultriness. He thought that he would have to comb his local second hand electronic stores for a microphone for her.
Gunnar nodded. "Okay. Tonight we're clearing the Temple of Rudimentary Evil."
"Is that anything like elemental evil?" asked Exra.
"Yes" said the buffalo, "but without risk of copyright infringement. Does everyone have all the quests for the dungeon?"
A series of yeses wove its way through the channel.
"Right" began Gunnar, as he launched into battle. Charging off down the hallway, the warrior brought the edge of his hammer cracking down upon the head of the first confused-looking rabid hamster, which in turn twitched in a very uncertain manner. Exra immediately finished the creature off with a sturdy fireball directed towards its nose.
"What is it?" asked Sycorax.
"That's the boss" said Gunnar, "I think."
Extra perked up. "I've just checked the website, it's definitely correct."
They stared across the great temple hallway. Vast ruined pillars were scattered from corners to lie crumbling in the dirt. Above, a huge domed ceiling rose above them, letting in a powerful shaft of sunlight that cascaded with a golden hue, appearing almost celestial in its majesty. A torn and shattered alter lay in a broken pile at the far end of the chamber, and before it stood the boss. It was tall, three times the size of either of the party (perhaps four times for Exra) and glistened with a sickly and viscous shimmer. Its green mass shifted uncertainly as it wavered, uncertainly, but held its strong geometric shape. From within, the gelatinous creature emitted a low growl. It was the shape of the thing that the companions looked at in confusion. They had not expected its cube-like form to taper at the top into a fine point.
Sycorax looked at the others. "What?" he asked, "has nobody seen a Gelatinous Pyramid before?"
"In general" explained Gunnar, "the standard dungeon monster is a Gelatinous Cube. I've never seen any triangular ones before."
The warlock shrugged, "Does it matter?"
Exra hummed lightly, and then added "I'm pretty sure this was a Gelatinous Cube back in the beta."
"They changed it" said Aria, decisively, "wanted to avoid a lawsuit."
Across the chamber, the Gelatinous Pyramid burbled at them.
"It doesn't look very threatening" said Roka.
"Looks can be deceiving" commented Exra. "Okay, assuming that this is the same boss as I'm familiar with, just with a slightly different model, then the fight itself is divided into two phrases. The first is a basic tank and spank, except for the adds which spawn at twenty second intervals. Syc, you and me will AOE them down. When the boss hits sixty per cent health, it starts the second phase, moving around the arena. You'll want to avoid the skiing trails that it leaves behind him; they will give you a slow movement debuff. Biggie, you'll want to make sure that your bear's procs are up as often as they can be, as the bear is immune to this effect. Gunnar, frenzy when the boss hits thirty per cent and if Roka keeps his crits on cooldown, you'll be fine. Any questions?"
"I don't understand any of that" said Biggie.
Sycorax replied, "Just shoot it and you'll be fine."
Gunnar looked from each member of the party to the other, and then turned his attention towards the slime triangle. "Right," he said, "let's show this walking pile of copyright infringement how we do things in Valeron."
The party charged.
The pyramid lunged forward, slamming into Gunnar as the buffalo rushed to meet it. The two crashed into each other with a heavy wet squelch. Gunnar snarled and batted at the Gelatinous foe. His hammer splashed against its surface. "I don't think that this is doing much good" he grumbled. The hammer lapped against the creature's viscous surface with all of the impact of a small duck landing on the surface of a pond.
Then, workout another word, the creature pulsed. A large number of thin, flailing tendrils sprouted from its wet form, flailing around madly. Gunnar almost took a step back, only for one of the liquid-like tentacles to grasp around him, coiling its way around the warrior’s waist. He thumped at it with his hammer, struggling valiantly. Aria took one look at this and said "If this turns into a Japanese porn cartoon, I'm leaving."
"I don't understand" said Exra as she channelled up another spell. Her flames seemed to be having almost no effect on the creature, and it tried to bat at her with one searching tendril. "It didn't have any kind of attack like this in the beta!"
Biggie levelled his rifle and released another resonating explosive blast. "So what we do now?" he called rather loudly through the voice channel.
"Just stay calm" replied Gunnar, smashing his hammer with all his might against the tentacle that tightened around him. "It's still just a boss." With a single triumphant crash, the head of his great hammer tore through the jelly, crashing the tentacle to the ground. It slowly started to uncoil from his waist. Gunnar smiled, a sense of relief washing over him.
Then, with a wet glopping sound, the broken end of the tentacle opened, blossoming wide like a great flower. Gunnar blinked. From within the tentacle issued forth a massive torrent of wet green slime, crashing into the buffalo with all the cascading force of a fireman's hose. The warrior stumbled back, wiping frantically at his shirt, shoving thick globs of goop from his armour. "Gross" snapped Sycorax with a laugh, "you've been slimed!"
The warrior sighed, "I noticed" he grumbled as it became very clear that he would not get through this battle with his dignity intact.
"Look at it like this" said Exra, "We are seven hundred gold coins wealthier."
"And we all got high level gear" pointed out Biggie.
"Best of all" added Roka, "we are all level thirty or higher now too, from all the experience we got, so we can all go out and buy some mounts."
Gunnar sighed. The sigh escaped through the thick coat of slime that covered his lips as a series of bubbles.
"I'm still not sure why a Gelatinous Pyramid had seven hundred gold pieces on its corpse in the first place" contemplated the Canine. "I mean, where was it carrying it all?"
"If you want to really puzzle about something" added Aria, "try to figure out why it had a perfectly intact enchanted cloak." She held up her cloak, which shimmered pristinely, as though they had not in fact tore it from the puddle of goo that was once the temple's boss.
Gunnar gave a moan, dripping bits of unpleasant viscous syrup with each step.
"At least you can wear your gear" said Roka, "I've only just got to level thirty during this fight, but this hat is for level thirty-two and up."
"Don't worry" said Exra in a motherly tone, "you'll get there."
The dog nodded and tried once more to slip the hat onto his head. It sat there for a second, as though searching it's wearer to see if he was worthy of bearing the hat upon his brow. Then, with a disgruntled snarl, leapt from Roka's head like an elastic band. The cleric sighed, "It's more finicky than that glass of milk I got at level four. I still don't understand why I couldn't drink it until I reached fifth level. It was just milk, for goodness sake."
Gunnar tried to wipe a handful of slime from his mouth. He looked around at everyone else, his entire group spotless and clean. "I hate that boss" he said, before more of the thick slime that covered the warrior ran down over his mouth and gunked it over once more.
"Still" said Exra, "I'm impressed you were able to hold the boss all the way through that."
"Especially when he flooded the entire chamber in slime" said Sycorax, "and you were the only one who wasn't able to climb to safety in time. That was really fun."
"And I got really cool new pet" said Biggie with a muffled burst of static, pointing to his ambulatory tiny glob of slime. The little pet twitched, slithering along the floor, staying loyally close to its beloved rock golem protector.
Gunnar said something that sounded almost like "Just keep that thing away from me" but under the many layers of slime it was hard for anyone to tell.
Welcome to the next chapter of "Realms of Valeron". A new chapter twice each week!
It was the biggest MMORPG ever created, and took the world by storm. With billions of players from every corner of the planet, 'Realms of Valeron' allowed anybody to interact with one another within the gloriously realized online world.
But for Roka, a young healer, it was more than that. It was a gateway to make friends. Friends like Exra, the hyperactive rabbit rogue; Gunnar the loyal buffalo, Sycorax the maniacal warlock, and many more.
What adventures lurk within the game? In a world full of quests and dangers, the truest and greatest loot is yet to be discovered. Bound together by the oaths of their guild, they would face brutal trials, savage enemies, and more than a few bugs that the game's play-testers really should have caught before release... But this is no trite story of players trapped inside a video game! Our heroes can turn off the game and leave at any time. But why would they, or any of us, ever want to leave when you have friends like these?
Realms of Valeron is a comedy fantasy, part sit-com and part epic adventure, which explores the bonds of friendships in a digital age.
Look here if you would like a story commission of your very own! - https://www.furaffinity.net/view/30458500/