Desolate Lands Online: Chapter 6

Yo, yo, chapter 6 in the hizzouse! Another chapter that’s way too long…. It’s seriously not my intention to write chapters this long. But, oh well… Next chapter shouldn’t be as long. Though it’ll possibly have two new players! Which means I gots to draw two new characters. What fun. Oh, and new design for my blog itself. Why? Cause why not. I like how this theme looks a bit more than the last theme looked.


 

Chapter 6

 

“Your health is low,” Daemon said with a yawn.

“I know! Why do you think I’m running away!?” I shouted, several enraged Hell Hares following close behind me. One of the demon rabbits lunged at my back, knocking off even more of my health. “Shit, shit, shit!” I flipped around and kicked the hare into the rest of the pack. I then threw the last smoke bomb I had at my feet. The thick haze of the bomb clouded the immediate area, leaving the Hell Hares blind to my position as I proceeded to run away again.

“Night Hawks, right above us,” Daemon mentioned.

“Oh come on!” I glanced at the birds circling above me. The hawks began to dive bomb once catching my gaze. I crouched low, using my knives to cover my head and the back of my neck. “Daemon, direct me to the exit!”

“Curve to your right slightly.”

I did as my guide said, just as a hawk swooped overhead. The rest of the hawks followed the first, each one barely nicking me. “Now what!?”

“You’re coming up on a small ledge, be prepared to jump.”

The ground beneath my feet transitioned from light patches of grass to rough gravel. I sprung my body forward as soon as I felt the ledge and tumbled into a roll once hitting the ground. The birds swooped down once more, a few of them slamming into rocky ground behind me.

“Alright, the exit gate is dead ahead.”

“Finally!” I held my right hand at my side and spun the kunai around, holding it backhanded. “Striking Edge!” I yelled, thrusting my arm forward. Blue energy trailed from the blade as I propelled forward, darting right through the gate. The remaining Night Hawks swerved away from the transparent barrier the separated the level from the exit. I took a few minutes to catch my breath as the birds flew away.

“God… This is only the second level! Why is it so hard!?” I gave the area just beyond the barrier a look over. While the floor itself was practically an open warzone, players could find relief within the exit/entrance safe zones. The barrier kept monsters out and the safe zones were non-PVP areas. Most levels only had two safe zones though. One was set at the beginning of each level. It allowed players to take a lift up or down to any previously completed floor. The zone also had a merchant that sold simple goods and an NPC cleric that would heal players for free. The other safes zones were located within the boss rooms but would only become accessible once the boss of the floor was defeated. Those zones were a bit different though, with only a cleric and a teleporter that sent players back to the initial safe area.

Before taking the lift down, I talked to the cleric dressed in a white and gold cloak. He raised his golden scepter and recited a quick religious prayer. A light enveloped me as my health rose to 100%. I gave the cleric a nod of gratitude then took the lift to floor zero, a level in the Desolate Tower that contained nothing of danger. Once I got to the floor, I exited the Tower and walked out onto Central Street. The street was filled with stores selling general items, weapons, armor, and even food. There were also many places offering entertainment and leisure. The street was usually filled with players as it not only served as Incipio’s central hub, but was also the only street that lead to the Desolate Tower. Today, however, Central Street was fairly empty. Most of the players and even a few of the NPCs were attending the 2nd Anniversary Tournament in the Incipio Coliseum.

“Hey D, how’s the Tournament going?” I asked while walking to the nearest open store.

“Well the preliminaries finished up a while ago so the novice bracket is currently underway. The quarterfinals of that bracket ended a few minutes ago.” Daemon answered, a virtual display spread out before him.

“Cool. And after the novice grand finals, when will the master bracket start?”

“About thirty minutes later.”

“Okay, set a reminder for those quarterfinals. Like, a little bit before they actually start, okay? I wanna be there for the last couple of matches.”

Daemon nodded, “Alright. I’ll set the navigation to an open bar that’s streaming the tournament.”

“What? No, not a bar. I’m gonna watch it in the coliseum.”

“Yeah, of course, I’m sure you’ll find an available seat that’s also free of charge…”

“Blah, blah, blah, I’ll make it work.” I slapped Daemon away as he scoffed at me. “I said I’ll make it work! I just gotta…” I lightly pulled down the bottom of the cleavage cutout in my top, exposing a bit more of my breasts. I leaned forward and tenderly bit my bottom lip. “…find a guy who’ll fall for my feminine charm…” I cooed, looking up meekly at my guide.

Daemon looked up to the sky, “What did I do to deserve this? Do the programmers just hate me? Why programmers,” the red dragon cried as he clenched his small hands, raising them into the air, “Why!” Daemon held his pose for a few seconds before glancing at me.

I stood up straight, rolling my eyes and clapping my hands. “Bravo, excellent performance, you’re a natural, I hate you, please leave.” Daemon blew a puff of smoke at me before disappearing. “God…” I shook my head and entered the store. I sold most of the items in my inventory, leaving only a few more needles and the cloak I got from the Desolate Underground. With the money, I bought 20 medium health potions, the maximum I could carry. I also bought several more needles and a few smoke bombs. With my resources restocked, I reentered the Desolate Tower.

I walked up to one of the numerous lifts filling floor zero and pulled open the metal gate. Once inside the lift, a virtual display appeared before me, asking which floor I’d like to go to. I tentatively held my hand over the second floor button. I almost died several times on the first floor and since each level was tougher than the last, there was no way I’d complete the second floor at the moment. As I was almost at level 21, I decided to go to the first floor and grind a bit instead.

The first floor was just a wooded field, filled with normal low-level monsters. Like each floor, however, it contained a gimmick of sorts. The first floor contained hidden traps all over the place; some were in plain sight while most were a lot more secretive. One wrong move and a player could fall down hole, or get hit by a swinging log, or get tied up in a rope swing that hurls you around in a circle for like twenty minutes cause you dropped your knives and had no way of cutting yourself loose so you ended up stuck in an never-ending spin cycle that went on until the rope snapped! That trap was the worse. Players with certain perks or abilities could easily notice and even disable the traps before they sprung. But I had no such abilities and since the traps are never in the same place twice, I couldn’t use any online forums for help. Playing through this level the first time was a pain in the ass. Hopefully it wouldn’t be such a pain this time.

Within half an hour my leg was caught in a bear trap. I took out one of my knives and tried jamming it into the side of the trap. I didn’t have enough strength to simply rip the bear trap apart, so I had to somehow break the mechanism that kept the jaws together. “Dammit, this isn’t working! Daemon, look up how to get out of one of these!”

“God you’re hopeless…”

“Just do it! Before something that could kill me comes!”

“You mean like those wolves over there?”

I looked up to see four wolves slowly approaching me. While three of them were normal, gray wolves, one of them was a bit larger with darker fur. The larger one stood back and let out an earsplitting howl as the three lackeys charged towards me. “Shit, Daemon tell me now!”

Painfully getting to my feet, I braced myself as the first wolf lunged at me. With my kunai in hand, I pierced the wolf’s chest then slid the blade right through the beast. The Wolf slumped at my side just as the two others slammed into me head on. The impact sent me reeling back.

“Okay, I found it.” Daemon began, looking up from his display. “You have to compress the set springs.”

“What the hell does that mean!?” I shrieked, struggling to keep one of the wolves from snapping at my neck. I was able to direct the muzzle of the beast into the ground and stab at its neck from the side. I stabbed about six or seven more times after the initial attempt to make sure the thing was dead. Just when that wolf died the other jumped on top of me, knocking the air out of my chest.

“There are springs in the trap that are keeping the jaws in place. You need some sort of leverage to push the springs together and release the trap.”

“Oh great, that’s just…” Before I could say anything else, the alpha wolf decided to join in the fray. He knocked his underlings off of me and tried snapping at my throat himself. “Just fucking great!” I yelled at the wolf. With the minuscule strength I had, I kicked the wolf off of me and tried to stand back up.

The alpha hit the ground on all fours then howled into the air once again. This time, however, a beam of moonlight shot down from the heavens and struck the wolf. The hairs on the wolf’s back stood up as a faint light surrounded its body. The wolf had given himself a buff, most likely to attack.

“Looks like the wolf just activated a buff,” Daemon stated.

“As helpful as ever you dumb dragon…” As the wolf charged at me, I raised my leg that was stuck in the trap. “Hey wolfie, would you like some rusty metal?” The wolf spread its large jaws, foam forming at the corners of its mouth. Just before the beast got to me, I spun around with a roundhouse kick, nailing the attacker in its open maw. The alpha furiously bit down on the metal contraption. I pulled my foot one way as the wolf pulled its mouth the other way. With two forces pulling at the bear trap on opposite sides, the springs keeping the jaws together broke apart.

“Hell yeah!” I cheered. I immediately pulled out a health potion and consumed it, the wolf momentarily distracted by trap that had come apart in its jaws. I held my kunai to my side and crouched low. “Striking Edge!” I dashed straight ahead, a blue trail cutting right through the wolf. Seeing the death of the Alpha, the remaining wolf scampered off. “Not so fast!” I yelled, chasing after the one that got away. Once I got close enough, I held my weapon to my side once more. “Striking Edge!” Just like his leader, the wolf was sliced with blue energy.

Once the beast fell, I downed a mana potion. Most active abilities used mana, different moves draining different amounts. Players could increase the size of their mana pools by investing skill points into the mana stat itself. My mana pool was fairly small though, so I could only fire off two Striking Edge’s before my pool ran dry. Since I didn’t wanna wait for my pool to slowly refill, I drank a potion to get back to full and went on my way.

I went back the way I came, walking around the spot where the bear trap was hidden. A few feet ahead, a large deer-like animal was standing over a carcass. Its broad, curved antlers were deformed and covered in blood, as if it had freshly slain the body. I concealed myself behind a beech tree in order to safely check my surroundings without being seen by the deer. A log trap was over to the left of me; a stone pressure plate covered with leaves and branches just below it. I turned my attention back to the deer. I flinched a bit, noticing fang like canines protruding from the creature’s upper jaw.

“What the hell are you…” I muttered. This was the first time I had seen a deer with fangs in this level. I knew fanged deer existed in real life, but they were much smaller and didn’t have noticeable antlers. “Let’s get this on then, Devil Deer!”

Hearing my sudden outburst, the deer looked over in my general direction. I poked my head out from behind the tree, staring the beast in eyes. The deer lowered its head while hoofing at the ground. Neither of us made any sudden movements. Annoyed by the deer’s lack of movement, I threw a few needles at the beast. The deer made a screeching out I didn’t deer could make and charged at me. I immediately ran to my left, the animal in hot pursuit. Coming up the trap, I purposely activated it then immediately dived forward. The log swung just inches above my head but nailed the charging deer directly. I jumped to my feet as the deer staggered back, only a third of its health missing. Even though log traps were typically easily noticeable, they did considerable damage, enough to OHKO most, if not all, of the non-boss creatures on this floor.

Daemon turned his attention away from the deer, giving me a sideways look. “This deer is going to kill you, I’m sure of it.”

“Not if I kill you first,” I retorted.

“I…” Daemon paused, his voice at the usual monotone, “don’t think that comeback quite works in this situation.”

Before I could add anything else, the deer regained itself and went on the offensive. I braced myself, crossing my kunai over my chest. “Oh deer…” I glanced over at my guide, a wide smile spread across my face.

“You’re such an idiot…” Daemon sighed as the deer charged directly into me.

I uncrossed my arms once the beast collided with me, swiping at it in an X-motion. While we were both hit, I was the only one that felt any knockback. The deer quickly closed the distance between us and rammed into me once again. I was sent even farther back, my body skidding across the ground. As soon as I got back up, the deer was about to smack me for a third time. While a swift sidestep allowed me avoid another attack, the beast was able to spun around just as swiftly.

Striking Edge!” My attack cut right through the deer while it attempted another rushing assault. I turned around once I hit the end of the dash, facing the deer’s back end. I threw several needles to regain the beast’s aggression before running away. With the devil deer chasing after me like before, I tried to activate every trap I came across. I was moving fast enough to avoid nearly all of the traps, leaving them to hit the beast behind me instead. Wooden stakes slashed its body, wires wrapped around its neck and legs, metal spikes pierced through its hooves, and many other dangerous objects hit the deer from all over. None of the traps had much of an effect though. The deer was able to power though everything.

My stamina began to ebb away, leaving me near breathless by the time I got to a small clearing. I couldn’t lose the last of my energy in open field though! The deer was still right behind me. I glanced at the deer’s health as my legs started to give out. Still had about 30% remaining. Letting out a high-pitched whine, I flopped onto my stomach. The deer came up behind me and leaped into the air in an attempt to slam down on me with its antlers. Just before the impact, I rolled over, the deer completely missing me. With its mighty antlers firmly stuck in the ground, I took my turn on the offensive. My rapid cuts, slices, and stabs at the beast did little damage however. Annoyed with the situation, I kicked the deer’s underbelly in a small bout of rage. The deer kicked me right back, striking me square in my own gut.

As I reeled back, the deer gave a hard tug and was able to pull his antlers out of the ground. The deer gave a loud huff as it turned to face me. There was a moment of quiet, our eyes locked firmly on each other. I slowly reached down to the small pouch attached to my upper leg, feeling the pointed tips of the needles with in it. The needles did little to actually harm the deer before, so I decided against using them for a third time. Instead, I gripped tightly onto my kunai. I threw my arm up and flicked my wrist in one swift motion, the kunai flying straight into the deer, getting lodged between its eyes.

With the deer distraught over the sudden head pain, I took the opportunity to leap into the air and ready my other kunai at my side. Blue energy accumulated around the blade. “Striking Edge, bitch!” With my sights set on the beast below me, I dashed through the air at a downward angle. The kunai in my hand slammed against the kunai in the deer’s head, plunging it deeper into the animal. While that was all according to plan, the ground was an afterthought… My body hit the ground with heavy force while the rest of the dash sent me tumbling forward.

Even though the sudden encounter with the land didn’t knock off that much of my HP, the impact left me momentarily stunned. I tried to push myself up into any other position but my body wouldn’t respond to my desperate attempts. I had to lay face down on the ground until I could regain any form of mobility. “Hey Daemon…” I managed to spit out in a quiet squawk, “Is… Is the deer… dead?”

The red dragon puffed into existence. He glanced over behind me. It seemed to take him an unreasonably long time to discern if the devil deer was dead or not. Daemon finally turned his head around to give me his usual deadpan face. “Probably.”

“The hell does that mean!?” The sudden, heavy flow of anger and confusion that shot throughout my body somehow pulled me out of my stunned state. I spun on my heels to get a look of the deer myself. I slowly titled my head to the side. The deer stood motionless in place, its head careened ever too far back. It appeared to be in a dead standstill. Carefully walking around the seemingly dead beast, I readied my weapon just in case. The deer seemed even deader from the front seeing as my kunai was deep within its skull. I sighed. I had to pull my weapon out of its head…

I stuck my arm out in apprehension, gently putting my hand into the bloody head of the beast. I felt the hilt of the kunai immediately. With a quick tug, I was able to wrench my knife out with ease. The deer was still in the same position. My eyes drifted to a faint, yellow glow in between the deer’s large and malformed antlers. “Oh.” I muttered. Even though the deer was nameless, it was still a rare enemy. And rare enemies almost always gave rare drops. This deer seemed to have a special pair of antlers. Most likely a crafting material. Crafting materials directly attached to enemies had to be cut off though, so the enemy usually stayed around until the material was collected.

Since I didn’t have a carving knife, I had to use my weapons to cut the antlers off. Carving knives weren’t mandatory items as players could just cut up a beast with any kind of bladed weapon, but they sure did the job of cutting off specific pieces a lot easier. And faster… I was finally able to get the antlers off of the deer after expending more time and effort than I wanted to. With the antlers detached, the deer fell to its side then dissipated into pixels and dust.

“Hey,” Daemon piped up, “It’s time.”

I glanced at my guide. “What now?”

“I said it’s time?”

“What…? For what?”

“To go.”

“Go where?

“The quarter.”

“…”

“Of the thing.”

“Daemon I swear!”

“The quarter. Finals.” There was a pause. “Of the bracket. Master bracket. Of the tournament.”

“Why didn’t you just say that?!”

The dragon shrugs.

“God I hate you!” I yelled, stuffing the antlers into my pouch. The antlers disappear from my hand and took up space in my inventory. I then checked my surroundings. Even though I made sure review the maps of this level that were posted online, I still had no idea how to navigate through the woods. Both due to my forgetfulness and my general lack of direction. “Uh… Daemon? Navigate me.”

“Says the one who hates me…” Daemon responded.

I squeezed the bridge of my nose. A slight tension was swelling up within my actual head but my actual body was lying on my bed, immobilized by the VR set I was wearing. Applying pressure to my simulated, female nose did almost nothing to relieve the stress in my forehead. “Fine. I’m sorry. I don’t… fully 100% hate you. Now just navigate me to the exit!”

I had to stop to catch my breath once I got to the coliseum, my stamina taking a moment to recharge. Running all the way here was unnecessary but I felt like doing it anyways. I was excited for the tournament even though I spent most of the day in the Tower. Seeing the last couple of fights would be good enough for me. I just had to somehow find a place to sit…

I took large strides up the steps of the entrance to the coliseum then hurried down a wide-open corridor. The seating section was split into three areas, the high level, the mid level, and the low level. The low level had the best seats, so I doubted I’d find anywhere to sit there. I decided on the mid level and went up the stairs leading to that area. Once I got up there, I glanced at the actual arena of the coliseum. The quarterfinals hadn’t started yet, thankfully. Feeling a sudden coldness pierce through me, I looked up from the arena, seeing Princess Sheol and Aegis sitting among other well known NPC’s in viewing box. The pale princess had her cold eyes glued to me.

I raised my arm, timidly waving to Sheol. Her eyes stayed fixed on me.

“I wonder…” I muttered out loud. Going back down the mid level stairs, I ran through the corridors of coliseum to get to the viewing box. Another set of stairs led up to an open doorway, a tall solider standing in the opening. I walked up the solider and flashed a smile. “Hello good sir! I’d like to have a word with Princess Sheol.”

No response.

“Um, excuse me… I’d like to talk to The Princess.”

Again, no response.

“Dude! Me, princess, talk!”

The solider raised his sword in an attempt to strike me down. I blocked the swing with a kunai then followed up with a left hook to the guy’s face. While the solider took a moment to regain himself, I maneuvered around him and into the viewing box. All of the NPC’s turned to face me except for The Princess.

“Uh… Hi. I came to talk with Sheol. Uh, I mean, The Princess.”

“You again…” Aegis growled, standing up from his seat in order to deal with me.

“Aegis, stand down.” The Princess commanded. “Let the girl talk to me.”

The general glared at me as I walked past him, a smirk spread across my lips. “You just can’t get rid of me, can you Aegis?” I ignored the NPC’s rage that had started to build and addressed Sheol. “Yo, Princess, what’s up?” Princess Sheol merely blinked. I took that as a cue to go on. “I… I wanna watch the last couple of games of the tournament, but I sorta didn’t get seat beforehand… So I was wondering if I could sit up here? I didn’t think it would be a problem. Cause we’re friends, right?”

The Princess took a slow, deep breath. After a minute of contemplation she gave me a firm nod. “I’ll allow you to sit here. Gnatz doesn’t like… interacting with others, humans most of all. Yet he was quite fond of you. If Gnatz likes you, he must trust you. Because of that, I’ll trust you. But…” Her frosty blue eyes narrowed, “if my trust of you diminishes at all… I won’t stop Aegis from disemboweling you. Got that?”

“Y… yeah, I totally got that…” Once again, an NPC was scaring the crap out of me. “So, uh… Where should I sit?”

Sheol motioned to Aegis’ seat. “You can sit there. Aegis won’t mind standing, will you Aegis?”

Aegis grumbled as he got up out of his seat once again. “No Princess, I won’t mind.”

I snickered at the general while I sat in his seat. A thought suddenly crossed my mind. I could clearly see who was sitting in this box when I was on the other end on the arena. Looking through the dozens upon dozens of players sitting around in the stands of the coliseum, I noticed that a good amount of them were looking up at me. I gulped, feeling my heart in my throat. Thankfully, no one was close enough to see my username. But I knew that the more perceptive players would be able to recognize me based on my appearance. I hoped the unwanted attention wouldn’t bring about my early demise…

While I was too lost in thought to realize that the battle had started, the fanatic cheering of players pulled me out of my head. A helmetless knight in dark armor had slammed his large, black sword down on a large and ridiculously buff ogre. The knight lifted his sword up with one hand, giving the ogre just enough time to climb to his feet before slamming the greenish monster back down with another swing. The knight was smirking, seemingly pitying his opponent. As he steadied the blade at his right side, the ogre tried to stand up again, this time in a more crouched position. The knight took advantage of his opponents lowered state by delivering a swift kick to his jaw. The ogre was knocked a few feet back, landing with a thud on his side.

The crowd cheered with great exuberance. The dark knight was clearly quite popular. Based on how this battle was going, the knight must have torn through the master bracket. Discerning from the chanting of the players, his username seemed to be Dizzy Wizzy. The name was a bit out of place compared to the guy’s appearance and general demeanor. The cheering rose to thunderous levels as Dizzy wrapped his left hand around the ogre’s throat, his mouth still curved into a smirk. Energy began to charge in the knight’s hand and spew out around his fingers. The ogre began to suffocate as the dark bluish/black energy swarmed around his neck. Before the ogre could even try to pry the fingers away from his throat, Dizzy’s smirk grew wider as he yelled. “Gravity Crash!

The knight lifted his arm before slamming the ogre into the ground. Dizzy kept his hand firmly on his enemy as a black and blue sphere of dark energy gradually spread from his palm and enveloped the immediate area. Once the sphere hit its stopping point, a ripple surged throughout the dark ball of energy. Then entire area the sphere had covered was suddenly crushed with extreme pressure. Dizzy stood up tall in the middle of a large crater, the defeated ogre lying on the ground in a crumpled mess. The crowd that had just gotten quiet exploded into booming applause, the sound of blaring trumpets barely being heard in the background. A wolfman announcer in dressy clothes rushed up to Dizzy Wizzy, a thin wireless microphone that looked almost like a metal wand was in his clawed hands.

The wolfman let out a shrill howl into his microphone wand as his other hand raised Dizzy’s arm. “Let’s hear it for the winner of the battle, DIZZY WIZZY!!” The announcer bellowed in a grumbly yet high pitched voice. The crowd cheered once more, louder than before. “Oh yeaaaah!! The first spot in the semifinals has been filled by this good knight next to me! Anything to say, sir?”

Dizzy took the mike, flashing the crowd a sly smile. “Oh you’ll hear what I have to say once I win this thing!” Cheering followed his cocky answer.

“Alllllriiiiiight!!” The wolfman began, the mike back in his hairy paws. “Are you all ready for the next battle!? Of course you are! Get ready for a grudge match between Mudoon Vampyre and D-D-D-Danger Riot!” A dark red demon covered in charred leather walked out of the right gate, a large, crooked wizard hat concealing his face. A paler, female demon then came from the left. The girl was in a short maid’s outfit and looked fairly cute overall, save for the satanic shield strapped to her back. The shield had beady yellow eyes that shifted manically and a wide-open maw filled with razor blade like teeth. The crowd was filled with brimming excitement.

“There’s no time to wait!” The wolfman howled into the mike like before, then proceeded to scamper off. “Let the battle…” He said from the background, “COMMENCE!!”


 

“ARROOO!! And we’re finally here, ladies and gentlemen! The grand finaaaals of the 2nd Anniversary Tournament! Can I hear you all cheer once again?” The wolfman threw his head down dramatically while raising his mike high into the air. The microphone ate up the cheering then blasted it all out through the speakers. “That’s what I like to hear!” As the announcer howled into the mike, two players approached each other from opposite sides of the arena.

“From the left side… Dark! Dashing! Dangerous! A seemingly unknown knight from the black pits of the deep abyss, give it up for the man himself, Dizzy Wizzy! A strong and reckless combatant who wants nothing more than absolute triumph!!” The crowd gave a roaring applause as the wolfman did an extravagant spin, coming to a halt with his microphone pointed to the right. “And from the right side… The eccentric mistress of calamity! The fair maiden of utter anarchy! The unadulterated madam of pandemonium! It’s Nicky who…? Nicky why…? IT”S NICKYWHAT!! A femme fatale with furious fervor! Let me hear a cheer for NickyWhat!” Just like for Dizzy Wizzy, the crowd exploded into an uproar of praise.

A helmetless knight in dark armor walked to the middle of the area, meeting a slender elf in an ashen robe, a mane of thick black hair coiling down her back. Dizzy’s smirk was met with a wry smile from Nicky. Tension slowly began to fill the screaming stands. “Alright, alright!” The announcer continued, “I can tell everyone is raring to goooo! The final fight… of the 2nd Anniversary Tournament… begins… Right…!” There was a pause as the wolfman gathered an immense breath of air and dashed backwards. The crowd became but a whisper. “NOOOW!!!! AARRROOOOO!!!”

Despite how heavy his weapon seemed to be, Dizzy was immediately able to swing his massive sword around with only his right hand, slamming the blade into Nicky’s side. The elf tumbled into a roll, getting some distance away from her attacker. The knight didn’t let Nicky get far though, quickly closing the gap with a powerful leap. He gripped his sword with both hands and attempted to slam it down on his opponent. Before the sword connected, Nicky raised her arms, blocking the blade with both of her wrists. Red and silver gauntlets adorned Nicky’s forearms. The elf shifted her body so the blade only pressed against her right wrist. With her free arm, Nicky swung at Dizzy, hitting his shoulder with a hard jab. The punch sent Dizzy reeling back and gave Nicky an opening to strike again. The second punch hit Dizzy’s midsection with tremendous force, knocking the knight back even further.

Even though NickyWhat looked like a witch specializing in black magic, she fought like some sort of boxer. Her rapid strikes were accompanied with quick footwork. She weaved in and out, delivering fierce blows to Dizzy while avoiding his counterattacks. Despite the high impact of each hit, none of Nicky’s punches did any sizeable damage. While Dizzy still had a good amount of health left, Nicky’s continued assault hadn’t loosened up in the slightest. Dizzy soon became annoyed with the situation, his smirk turning into a scowl. As another strike came his way, Dizzy caught the first with his left hand and began charging the same dark blue and black energy in his palm from before. Nicky immediately knew what was coming. The elf struggled to pull her hand free, repeatedly hitting Dizzy in the chest with her other hand. Dizzy kept a firm hold on the Nicky’s right hand as he recoiled from every blow he took. The crowd burst into wild cheers, excited to see’s Dizzy’s special attack once again.

Dizzy took one more punch before thrusting his arm forward, knocking Nicky down to one knee. “Gravity Crash!” Dizzy yelled as he gave his arm a final push. A sphere of dark energy formed in Dizzy’s palm and steadily grew in size, coming to an abrupt halt once both forearms were encircled. A single pulse rushed though the sphere just before the whole thing compressed. The immense weight of the miniature event-horizon brought both players to the ground. Dizzy was able to get back to his feet soon after the crash before Nicky could even push herself out of a prone position. Just when she gained the tiniest amount of balance, a sudden roundhouse to her head knocked her back down. Dizzy grabbed Nicky by the collar of her cloak then threw her several feet back.

Nicky stuck her arms out in order to brace her landing, but could only support herself with her left hand. Her right arm was filled with a dull, slightly numb pain. Nicky took her eyes off of the knight and glanced at her hurt arm. She clenched her teeth together; even though the pain was minor, the sight of her mangled forearm and hand made her gut churn. A smirk returned to Dizzy’s face as he watched Nicky stare at her hand. His smirk disappeared soon after, a whitish blast of chi hitting him hard in gut. Nicky held the hand that had fired the chi blast in front of her chest, the pointer and middle finger pointed straight up. “Kataho no Ude Style!” the elf yelled. Nicky then tucked her broken arm behind her back, slid her right foot back, and motioned Dizzy to move closer with her left hand.

The crowd cheered as if the stance change alone would win Nicky the match. Players could only have six active abilities available at a time. While players could access and switch around their known abilities in their menus, doing so in the middle of a battle was ill advised. One top of that, players entering tournaments could only select their active and passive abilities before their brackets started. Nicky must have expected one of her arms to be incapacitated during a match.

Pressure Cleave!” Dizzy sliced his left hand through the air, sending a horizontal beam of dark energy towards his opponent. Nicky sidestepped the beam and shot a chi blast at Dizzy. Nicky followed up with another blast before rushing forward. The first blast missed while the second connected, giving Nicky the opportunity to hit Dizzy’s chest a few times. The knight waved his hand to block the next punch, swinging his sword around with his other hand. The elf ducked under the blade only to receive a knee to the jaw. As Nicky bolted back up, Dizzy did a sideways slash in the opposite direction. Instead of ducking, Nicky smacked the sword away with her open palm then swept at Dizzy’s feet. As the knight stumbled, Nicky followed up with an axe kick, bringing her opponent straight to the ground. Dizzy quickly jumped up and swung his sword, missing Nicky as she flipped backwards into the air, sending a chi blast at Dizzy before she landed.

The knight made a quick chop with his hand. “Pressure Cleave!” Dizzy called out, shooting out a ray of darkness that cut right through the chi blast. Dizzy threw out another one, this time striking Nicky directly. The energy beam phased through Nicky’s upper body, causing a great tension to build within her chest. Dizzy swung at momentarily stunned elf, successfully hitting her this time. Nicky regained herself from the swipe and gave the knight an open palmed strike. As the battle continued, Nicky became more and more worn. While she was able to deliver more hits, Dizzy was dealing out more damage. The lack of a usable limb hindered Nicky even more. The match wasn’t looking good for her but her fans in the stands still had hope, cheering her on through the beating. The fans of Dizzy Wizzy were a lot more vocal though, yelling all sorts of things either for him or against his opponent.

A strong swing slammed into Nicky, sending her sliding back. Nicky dropped her arm to her side and took a breath. Her stamina was almost completely used up. The fight couldn’t go on much longer. Nicky took another breath then dashed to Dizzy, pulling her hand behind her head. She faked an open palm strike, getting Dizzy to brace for another hit to his midsection. Nicky followed up the purposely-missed strike with a wheel kick, slamming her right heel into the side of her opponent’s head. Dizzy recovered from the kick rather quickly. Nicky’s punches had a lot more impact than her kicks.

Before Nicky could get both feet back on solid ground, Dizzy grabbed the leg that had assaulted him with his left hand. With a quick motion, Dizzy pulled the girl to his side then slammed her face down. Energy began charging energy in his hand as kept his grip in on Nicky’s ankle. Whoops spread through the crowds; Dizzy was about use his strongest ability once again. Nicky shot her free leg out, kicking Dizzy’s face again. Her leg recoiled and shot out again. After taking the second kick, Dizzy used his sword to slice Nicky’s upper thigh. As shock and pain coursed through the elf, Dizzy pushed his left arm forward, followed by his whole body. The knight pinned Nicky down, bringing her right leg over her back. Bluish, black energy was teeming from Dizzy’s hand.

An elbow came within inches of Dizzy’s face before the knight smacked it away with his sword. The large sword was then swung in the other direction, knocking away Nicky’s leg that tried to retaliate. The elf had no way to break free. She flinched as the move was finally called out. “Gravity Crash!” The sphere grew in size, larger than it had when used on the ogre. Dizzy seemed to be able to control the size of the sphere. A larger size must have cost a larger portion of mana. Dizzy wasn’t worried about draining all of his pool though; he must have assumed this would be the final attack he needed to win the match. Just before the sphere reached the players in the stands, it trembled, collapsing almost the entirety of the arena. Once the dust of the massive crash settled, Dizzy was bent over the limp and crushed body of Nicky. All of his stamina had drained. The elf, on the other hand, had all of her life drained.

The crowd exploded. Trumpets accompanied the roaring cheer and applause. I joined in the cheering, ignoring the looks of the more composed NPCs around me. Once catching my breath, I slumped back down in my seat, catching a smile from the aloof princess beside me. “You enjoyed that too, didn’t you Sheol?” A strong hand clenched my shoulder.

“Don’t address The Princess by her first name!” Aegis barked.

“Aegis.” Princess Sheol said in her usual cool tone.

The general unhappily grunted.

Sheol then turned her attention to me. “I’ve always appreciated duals between two skilled fighters.” She then went back to the happenings of the arena. The wolfman was already at the champion. Nicky was seen being taken away on a stretcher by two fellow elves wearing white and gold cloaks.

“DIZZY WIZZY!!!” The announcer howled, “THE GRAND CHAMPION OF THE 2ND…! ANNIVERSARY…! TOUUURNAAAMEEENT!!” The wolfman’s excitement was meet with deafening acclamation. “That’s what I like to here! Give it up once more for Dizzy Wizzy!” The crowd responded. “AROOOOO!! Alrighty then! Well mister champion…! Now that you’ve finally won this thing, what do you have to say? We’re all wondering what’s going on in that wonderfully malicious head of yours!”

Without any hesitation, Dizzy snatched the microphone out of the announcer’s claws. He spun on his heels, scanning the crowd as he did so, looking for someone in particular. Once finding the person, Dizzy stopped and pointed his massive sword up to a player in the stands, surrounded by a posse of what appeared to be subordinates. The player at Dizzy’s focal point looked down at the champion with crossed arms. The crowd was near silent. Dizzy’s familiar smirk was plastered on his face. “Listen up you Columbine creep! You annoy me. Like single ply toilet paper. Except I’d actually wipe my ass with single ply.”

The crowd was eerily quiet. Dizzy Wizzy was pointing his sword at the highest ranked player in the game, WarHawke. No one else would dare call out one 10 Warlords, one of the Gods. Dizzy was too cocky for his own good. After WarHawke and the crowd took the insult in, Dizzy continued.

“You got a lot of fan shit online, you know that? So many nerds seem to wanna suck your micro boner. Hell, I bet most of the jerkoffs in your band of gangbangers already have! It’s just sick, dude. A faggot ass sorority bitch like you at the top. How the hell has no one taken you down yet?” Dizzy slammed his sword into the ground then jammed his thumb into his chest. “Some sort of brazen bastard has to take you out of your highchair I guess. And I’m just the dude to show you how far a real man’s balls drop. I’m coming for you Hawke Boy! And I hope your ass is ready for a spanking…” With that, Dizzy flicked the microphone back to the announcer, plucked his sword from the ground, and sauntered off.

The crowd hit a record high, giving Dizzy Wizzy a deluge of appraisal. My eyes instantly tore from Dizzy and locked onto WarHawke. While his posture stayed the same, a look of irritation, apprehension, and interest painted his face. The announcer looked annoyed as well, probably due to the fact that his mike was yanked out of his paws. He soon regained his poise and gave his signature howl.

“Well wasn’t that an astonishing finish to this spectacular tournament!? I know all of you were riveted throughout this whole tourney! I’d like to thank each and every one of you wonderful people who came here today! And also thanks to the folks watching the live feed! Join me, all of you join me! For one final howl! Ready!?” Another unanimous response from the crowd. “A one…! A two…! AARRROOOOOO!!!”

I waited up in the viewing box as the rest of the players began leaving the coliseum. Sheol didn’t seem to have much of a problem with me staying. Aegis clearly wanted me gone as soon as possible though. I was simply flipping through my menus while I waited. I didn’t want anyone down in the corridors to see me leaving the viewing box. People already knew I was up here, but no one could’ve gotten a clear look at me. Or my username. Going down here people could see me up close and personal? No way. A small notification suddenly popped up in my menu. I had gotten a message.

Message received from: The Thunderous Warrior

Message reads:

Hey Psycho, it’s Thunder. I was wondering if you would like to come to a party tonight. Warrior of Divinity, the winner of the novice bracket in case you weren’t aware, is throwing it. Since I’m actually sort of friends with him, he asked me if I would like to invite anyone to the party. So I’m asking you. It starts at nine in the game’s time. Let me know if you want to come or not.”

I was bit confused. The last time I talked to Thunder was almost a week ago, in the Desolate Underground. And that was the first time we met. It seemed weird that he was inviting me to a party. A party hosted by the winner of the novice bracket who also happened to be his friend no less. I checked the game time, it was a little after six. The game’s time happened to be Eastern Time. So six in game was also six for me. I had been online for most of the day, so my parents wouldn’t be happy if I spent any more of my Saturday online… Instead of selecting reply, I exited out of inbox and when to instant messaging.

Chat with The Thunderous Warrior

Psycho: Got your message. Replying here cause it’s easier. You still online?

Little over a minute passed before I received a response.

Thunder: Yeah, I’m still around. What’s your answer to the message?

Psycho: Maybe. I have a question. How long will the party be?

Psycho: Oh, and where.

Thunder: The party will be at The Broken Bottle. As for how long, I don’t    know exactly. More than three hours at least. You don’t have to stay the whole           time.

Psycho: That’s not the problem. I’ve been online for most of the day and it’s six       for my actual time. I’ve got stuff to do IRL so I don’t know if I’ll be able to get there at nine.

Thunder: That’s fine. It’s no problem if you come later.

Psycho: I’ll just be fashionably late then. Let’s say I’ll be there at ten.

Thunder: Alright. I’ll let Warrior know. See you then.

Psycho: Laters Thunder Buddy!

After exiting the chat, I closed my menu. Looking around, I was the only one left in the viewing box. Only a few people were in the stands of the coliseum. Assuming I’d be able to exit the viewing box without being noticed, I made my leave to Magnes’ Shop and Smith. Hopefully the younger elf would finally be okay with me using the shop as personal inn. While Lith had no problem with me staying over night, Magnes almost hated me as much as Aegis did. Though Aegis never knocked me out with wrench…

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