Aria dove her way out from the group. Her footsteps, each crackling with electrical discharge, blurred behind her as she ran at full speed toward the warlord. Abbadon the Scourge barely even blinked at her, his face a picture of relaxed and unimpressed comfort.
She dove to one side, spiralling around mid-step, and started to plunge her daggers into his back. No sooner had she done so than Gunnar’s voice echoed over the microphone channel, “Lightning strike is done.”
“I see Aria’s already in for the kill” added Exra as she sprinted towards the left side of the chamber, and began to work her paws through the air in an ancient and complicated spell pattern.
Roka didn’t say anything. He focused on weaving his healing magic, trying not to think that, once again, Aria had chosen not to appear on the voice channel. Not for the first time, the dog began to wonder why nobody else seemed to think that this was quite as unusual as he himself did. He wanted to speak out, to make his anxieties known. Instead, he simply remained quiet, focusing all of his attention on the work at paw.
“Everyone remember the tactics for the next bit?” asked Exra, finishing her spell and sending the hot bolt of flame towards Abbadon, who absorbed the blow without so much as batting an eyelid.
Over the barrage of supporting fire, Biggie called “YES GOT IT.” In response, Abbadon swung his heavy stave, knocking the missiles from the air with an almost dismissive gesture. The great undead warlord turned, swinging his gauntleted hand toward the golem, unleashing a crackling charge of raw, seething mana bolts.
The golem stumbled back, barely retaining his upright stance. The second mana bolt caught him in a sharp, unexpected blow, and Biggie was forced to dive behind a pockmarked, crumbling pillar for cover. But as he did so, Sycorax sprinted over to take the hunter’s place, his demonic powers unleashing a series of vicious globs of grizzly magic. “Damn it” snarled the warlock, “Is this guy getting tougher?”
Gunnar gritted his teeth, swinging his hammer in a great overhead arc. He drove it down, crashing into the warlord’s heavy stave with a resounding thud. Grasping the stave in only one hand, Abbadon looked for all intent and purpose to be doing little more than merely toying with the buffalo, content to let his enemies tire themselves out. “No” snarled the buffalo, “We’re getting there! Just keep going, everyone!”
Peering from behind the column, Biggie launched another series of attacks. Each shot lashed through the air before, mere inches away from the warlord; they were batted from their trajectory with the powerful backhanded swing of Abbadon’s gauntleted hand, clattering weakly to the ground. The attack did, however, leave Exra an opening to release a frantic bout of flames of her own, laying a sharp burn across the warlord’s pitch-black armour.
“Good” hissed Sycorax, motioning with his fingers as he caused a great dark cloud of shimmering green balefire to rain down from above upon the warlord, “keep it up! Don’t give him a moment to recover!”
“We got blood fountain in fifteen seconds” said Exra. No sooner had she said so, than several great dim circles started to etch themselves once more upon the vast stone floor beneath them. “Out of the way of the circles” she barked, “now!”
Immediately the group scattered, moving outward from their positions. Biggie glanced down, noticing beneath his feet the shining crimson mark as the intricate arcane symbols that formed into one of the vast blood fountain circles appeared below. Sprinting eagerly, the golem almost ran head-first into Aria, but the assassin dodged and wove deftly through the sprint as she found her way to safe ground.
Only a second after Gunnar cleared the circle, the ground upon which he had just been standing on erupted, sending a vicious jet of boiling blood into the air. The buffalo tried to catch a moment’s breath, but the enemy was still upon him, driving against the buffalo’s sturdy iron armour with his powerful enchanted stave. Seeing this, Roka unleashed a golden blaze of healing light, and said “Is everyone okay?”
For a second, Exra was quiet. Then, she said “Everyone’s out of the circles! Excellent!” The blood continued to jet for another few seconds, splashing the stones with hissing licks of its acidic touch. Where it landed, steam rose into the chill air. “Ready with more heals, Roka?” asked the fire mage as she started up her next spell.
“Already on it!” replied the cleric, channelling a series of quick healing spells which he hurled frantically from one party member to the next. He struggled to catch his breath, his attention so deftly focused on each and every single member of his group’s health bar. As the splashes of the fountains subsided, the circles on the ground faded and the dog took a few seconds to realise just how fortunate they had been that nobody had sustained injuries of any greater severity.
Aria was back upon the warlord in a moment, the dog’s healing spell already dissolving a hefty scorch that the blood fountain’s acrid touch had left on her shoulder, soothing the scar down to smooth and unblemished skin. “What is next?” she asked, her words coming through as text, her voice as silent as ever.
It took Gunnar a moment to realise that the question had been aimed at him. “Plague” he replied, verbally. “No idea what to expect.”
Unleashing a sharp series of crackling flames, Exra said “Boss is down to sixty per cent!” As she said so, each flame that she had unleashed grew, detonating in a fiery combustion that struck Abbadon and knocked him from side to side. The warlord glanced towards her, his relaxed features gradually starting to shift into a pale glower of irritated annoyance.
With a wave of his skeletal hand, Sycorax beckoned into the void. Screeching with an unnatural wail, the putrid form of his pet abomination of nature lunged into existence, charging into the fray. The warlord seemed to positively snarl at the bubbling, seething construct of flesh and liquid, striving to knock back its flailing mass of tentacles, all the while jabbing the end of his stave as best he could at the buffalo warrior that held Abbadon in conflict. Then, rushing from behind the column, Biggie pushed his way into the fore, unleashing shot after shot at the warlord, striving to knock the fiend from his perch. Near the back of the fight, Exra unleashed another ball of fire, illuminating the chamber as she called “He’s down to fifty per cent health! Keep this up guys, we can do it!”
Then, something truly unusual happened.
Abbadon seemed to stumble forward. Staggering, as if he had been struck by a great blow, the warlord turned, glancing behind him. All there was there, though, was Aria. The assassin continued to chip away at the Scourge’s armour, ripping small slivers of it free with each blow.
Exra blinked. “Wait, no” she called, “He’s down to thirty per cent?”
Roka lifted his head in confusion. He looked up, releasing his healing spell which blinked, half-formed, out of existence beside him. As he watched, Aria tore her daggers into the warlord’s jet-black armour, each thrust knocking a vast rend into the boss’s health bar. That shouldn’t be possible, thought the cleric.
With the next stabbing motion, another massive chunk of health vanished from Abbadon’s health bar. Exra looked on, bewildered. “Fifteen per cent” she said. “No, ten. What’s happening?”
Gunnar stepped back. Biggie lowered his weapon, and even Sycorax paused mid-chant. As the guild watched, Aria struck one final blow to the warlord. The blow was so strong, so impossibly potent, that it sent Abbadon the Scourge tumbling to the ground. The figure’s dark form scattered across the floor of the chamber, leaving Aria standing over him, daggers in paw. Her chest rose and fell as she caught her breath, looking down expressionlessly at the fallen foe before her. Then, above them all, sharp blue letters blinked into existence. “Dungeon Cleared!” it read. “Game First: Abbadon the Scourge Defeated.”
For a moment, nobody said anything.
Then, nervously, Sycorax said “Wait, did we do it? Did we kill him?”
“I…” stuttered Gunnar, “I guess so?” He looked toward Exra, uncertainly. “That’s what it meant, right? That we got the game’s first defeat of Abbadon?”
The fire witch didn’t answer. Instead, she just stared at the assassin, a look of undisguised shock on her face. “Aria” she said, “what did you do?”
Looking down at the defeated form of Abbadon, Aria’s text reply appeared. “I don’t know” she said.
“That shouldn’t have been possible” said Roka. “There was no way that could have happened. Not even if you had used all of your abilities at once. Am I right?” He looked around.
Gunnar nodded. “No assassin can do that much damage all at once. How did you do it?”
Aria looked around the group. In that moment, she realised that all eyes were upon her, faces blank and confused. “I don’t know” she said, again. “I was just attacking him.”
“Shouldn’t we loot the body?” asked Sycorax, glancing down at him.
Gunnar shook his head. “Something feels wrong about all of this.”
“What could be wrong?” asked the warlock. “We got the game’s first kill on him, just like we wanted. Didn’t we?”
Roka pushed forward, his eyes focused on Aria. “What did you do?” he asked, his voice insistent. “How did you kill him?”
“I don’t know!” she said, and although her reply only came in text, it carried with it all of the intonation that she could put across. “I just kept attacking him, just like always. Then all of a sudden the damage spiked and…”
“Aria” said Exra, her voice calm and heavy, “let me see your daggers.”
Eyes turned towards the fire witch. For a moment, Aria looked down at the blades in her paws. She clutched both, one in either of her grips, as if her entire life depended upon them. Slowly, hesitantly, she offered them over to Exra.
The fire witch looked at them. “When did you get these?” she asked, not taking her eyes from the pair of blades.
“From the boss we did a few months back” answered Aria. “The merman one, I think.”
“No” said Exra, “you didn’t. Look at them.”
For a moment, the entire group fell silent. Roka, and he suspected everyone else, peered at the daggers that Aria held in her paws. The description etched on each one was ‘Blade of Judgement’, and each carried an enchantment that dealt an additional ten-thousand hit points of damage on each strike. Roka blinked a few times upon reading that. Ten thousand, he thought to himself? That was an insane amount. Even the most top of the line assault weapons could manage an enchantment of only a couple hundred. And yet Aria had two of these ones. The cleric’s mouth gaped.
Aria looked around, glancing each of the other guildmembers in the eye. “I didn’t have these” she said. “Not when I started the fight tonight. I had the other daggers, my usual ones. I don’t know what these are.”
“I do” said Exra.
Roka turned, looking to the fire witch.
Exra looked down once more at the blades, and then focused her gaze into Aria’s eyes. “These are Games Masters weapons.”
“That is correct” said a voice.
As one, the guild turned to look around for who had spoken. Exra found it first, her face turning toward the direction of the voice, with everyone else quickly following. The figure who had spoken stood in a corner of the room. He was dark, dressed in thin black robes which were lined with blue. He wore no weapons, but around his feet a thin swirl of mist seemed to grow and churn, as if the ground itself was somewhat uncertain of the man’s passing. As he stepped closer toward the guild, Roka realised that the man, like himself, had canine features. It was only when he stood before them that the cleric realised that he was taller than any Canine should rightly be, almost a head taller than was possible. His name badge, Roka realised, listed him as a Games Master.
“And I would like you to come with me” he said.
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/