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When their combined spell ended, all that was left of the kobolds were crispy corpses that were slowly disintegrating into dust leaving nothing but their mana crystals behind. Thomas looked over at Selena and gave her a crooked grin, "That worked even better than I thought it would."

Selena glanced at Thomas before she replied, "It's common knowledge that two mages are better than one, three are better than two, and so on."

Thomas sighed and shook his head, "You know, I've only been in this world for five weeks now. The first four weeks I spent all of my time inside the back rooms of stores working to learn professions. The fifth week I spent all my time learning magic. I haven't exactly had much of an opportunity to learn what the common knowledge here is."

Selena looked a little surprised and then slowly nodded her head up and down, "Right. I know you're an otherworlder and yet I continue to expect you to just know how things work here." She sighed and started to make her way into the room as she spoke, "It's hard to think of what to tell you honestly. If you have any questions though, I'd be happy to answer them for you."

Thomas moved into the room as well and started to collect the mana crystals as he asked, "What can you tell me about angels and demons?"

She crossed her arms over her chest as she let out a soft sigh, "I should have known you would ask that. Well. I don't really know a whole lot about demons, they keep to themselves so the world, in general, doesn't know how they're created or born. Angels though, we know a fair amount about them." She followed Thomas as she explained, "Angels start out as regular humans. If a human worships their god properly while performing tasks to spread the name of that god they can earn recognition from that god. Usually, this starts as the god granting them Holy magic. Though it could also include something else. As an example, the God of the Forge might grant a boon related to blacksmithing along with Holy magic."

Thomas finished collecting the mana crystals and turned to face Selena as she continued, "Over time if the individual blessed by the god can prove themselves worthy, the god will change them into one of their angels. Some people work their whole lives with the hope of becoming an angel to never receive the blessing, others will work for just a few years before becoming one. It all depends on the god really."

Together they made their way to the pathway leading to the next section of the dungeon while she continued to talk, "The responsibilities of an angel really depend on the god they serve. Going back to the God of the Forge again as an example. His angels likely continue their work at their forges creating weapons, armor, and items for the angels and servants of other gods to use against the evil forces of the world. Of course, not all gods get along and sometimes there are fights, or even wars, between the worshipers and angels of various gods."

Thomas interrupted by asking, "What about evil gods?"

Selena shrugged her shoulders, "They operate mostly the same way, just their angels tend to have black or gray wings. The 'good' and 'evil' gods are always plotting and fighting against each other. In that respect, they're honestly no better than the mortal races of the world. Each of them thinks that their way of thinking is the only correct way. It's not like any of the gods want to completely destroy the world, they just all have a different vision for what the world should be like."

As they came to the next room they saw a group of kobolds with the heads and paws of lions. Without needing to discuss it, she began to prep her flames while he began to prep his wind. When they were both ready they stepped into the room and blasted the group of six kobolds with the enhanced flames and roasted them to death. The disgusting scent of burnt hair pervaded the room and made both of them wrinkle their noses in dissatisfaction.

As Thomas collected the dropped mana crystals Selena returned to her explanation, "Returning to angels. They're nothing more than the servants of their various gods that have been blessed with holy magic, wings, and improved lifespans for their service to their god."

He nodded and asked, "So what can you tell me about demons?"

She sighed then took a canteen of water out of her inventory to take a swig of water to wet her throat. After she put the canteen away she started her new explanation, "I've never interacted with demons so what I'm about to say is what everyone is taught. Take it with a grain of salt as it may not necessarily be true."

When she saw him nod she started, "It's said that thousands of years ago demons and the gods they worship just suddenly appeared in our world. They brought nothing but death, destruction, and unholy magic with them. It's said that before they appeared Unholy magic didn't exist and it's therefore inextricably tied to them. Anyone using Unholy magic is considered to be in league with demons or a worshipper of a demonic god. The gods I spoke of before and the demonic gods are always at war with each other and fighting for dominance. If the regular gods were not so numerous the demonic gods likely would have won the war long ago."

They moved through the next pathway as she spoke, "The demonic gods are a unified force with very little infighting between them making them a dangerous opponent for the scattered and bickering gods. It's speculated, though unproven, that humans who become worshippers of the demonic gods can go through a process similar to an angel. By worshipping their demonic god and gaining its favor they gain access to unholy magic and if they do enough work they become a demon, instead of an angel."

Thomas came to a stop and glanced at Selena, "Does that mean you worship a demonic god?"

She glanced at him, and seeing only honest curiosity she let out a sigh and nodded, "I do. As does my entire family. We have for centuries and none of us has ever turned into a demon. So I honestly don't think that the part about becoming a demon through worship is correct. Though if it is, it just shows my family is unworthy of it."

She looked at him seriously as she asked, "That doesn't bother you?"

Thomas shrugged his shoulders and resumed walking as he answered, "I've never been one to judge people by their beliefs or their supposed alignment between good and evil." He snickered before saying, "Once, a long time ago, I was contracted to create an item for a lich who wished to conquer the entire world with his legion of undead minions. The item he wanted me to make seemed interesting so I did it without hesitation. I made the item, got paid and didn't really think about it after that."

He let out a throaty laugh before he continued his story, "A couple of weeks later a paladin came to me to make him a new weapon capable of killing anything undead. I thought that was interesting as well, so once again I made the weapon without hesitation. When I delivered it to him he exclaimed that he was off to kill the lich that I'd previously made a staff for. I couldn't help but find it hilarious that I'd made weapons for mortal enemies. I don't remember what the final outcome was, but both of them returned to me later with new requests. When they met each other at my store we all had a big laugh about it, then they tried to kill each other out in the streets to determine who I would work for first."

He looked at Selena as he finished by saying, "I don't care who I sell my creations to as long as I am having fun with what I am making. It's all the better if I'm presented with a challenge! There's nothing more enjoyable to me than making something unique or powerful." He grinned playfully, "Of course, if I can, I play with it a little first for fun."

Selena looked over at him and was honestly surprised, "Is that really true?"

He nodded, "It is. I'm sure something similar will happen eventually in my life here."

She shook her head and let out a sigh, "Now where was I? Oh right. Demons. So while how to become a demon isn't known for sure, the fact that they exist and their numbers continue to grow shows they are created somehow. The demons only goal seems to be the complete subjugation of the world. We know that the demons are ruled by a Supreme Emperor that commands the various Kings beneath him as though they were generals. After the last attempt to fight and kill him ended in utter failure the ten kingdoms came together and agreed to the plan to summon heroes from another world. It had been done once before in the past and though the heroes started knowing nothing and as weak as could be, they quickly learned and grew until they could slaughter demons like they were nothing."

Thomas smiled and expected that the first batch of heroes had been the beta testers for AoG. Selena continued, "All of this would have been explained to the ten heroes that were meant to be summoned, but because so many of you showed up the plan was just tossed out. Now they just hope that since there are so many of you, at least some of you will answer the call to slaughter the demons."

He nodded and added, "I'm sure some will. It won't be me though."

Selena sighed but before she could continue they arrived at the next room. With growing ease, they summoned fire and wind to torch the group of six bear headed kobolds. It was the first time he'd seen an animal repeat so far. Once they were all dead he went about collecting the mana crystals as Selena resumed speaking, "Demons are a very versatile species. There are small demons called imps that are about thirty centimeters tall that are more of a pest than a threat. Though in a large enough group they can be extremely dangerous. Then there are various demons leading up to the Behemoths. The Behemoths are massive demons standing at least a hundred meters tall, some growing even taller. A single behemoth could easily trample a city and they have in the past."

After Thomas collected the mana crystals they looked around and found they were in a dead end so they started to backtrack. Thomas digested everything Selena had told him and started to put it into gamer terms in his mind. It sounded like the demons were meant to be the antagonists of the players with their behemoths and kings acting as bosses while the emperor acted as a final boss. Of course in any MMO there was no such thing as a final boss as there were always expansions introducing new threats to the world.

After they made it back to the previous room they picked a different path and started traveling down it in silence while Thomas pondered over what he'd learned. Finally, he asked a question that had bothered him a little during her explanation, "Do the gods have names? You kept saying 'demonic gods' and 'god of the forge' but no actual names."

Selena answered, "They do. Though, saying the name of a god attracts its attention to you." She looked at Thomas sternly, "Having a god pay attention to you or me would be a very bad idea. The gods don't generally pay attention to mortals unless their names are said. If a god were to focus on you all of your secrets would be exposed to them. If they dislike what they see they could easily send an oracle to their priests and have you hunted down. It would be best for you to avoid their attention entirely by never uttering their name."

Thomas swallowed and made a mental note to never mention a god's name out loud. He couldn't afford for a god to send people to hunt him down. Even though he couldn't be permanently killed it would still be super annoying. As he was making that vow to himself they arrived at the next room and torched a group of five bull-headed kobolds with their combined magic. Working together with someone was making this rather simple and almost effortless. At this point, they were spending more time walking and talking than actually fighting. Of course, they were still only on the first floor and there were stronger enemies on the deeper floors. He decided to enjoy the easier experience while it lasted.

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thomasdarkrose

  • Georgia, USA

Bio: Just your average self-employed American with some spare time that enjoys reading, and now writing.

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