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Michael heard Ogrim bellow in the distance. His command was followed by a rumbling of what Michael could only assume to be a horde of miners coming in his direction.

“Good,” he snarled, happy that he would be able to get rid of them all at once. Michael ran towards the direction where he heard Ogrim, stopping at the head of a tunnel with a severe downward slope. The tunnel was so steep that he couldn’t see the horde of miners that ran towards him yet, but he could tell they were close.

Michael smirked as he dug his feet into the ground and gave his mace another practice swing, “And I have the high ground? You all are about to get Anakin’d.”

The first miner reached Michael seconds later and was rewarded for being the first with a mace to the face. The miner fell backward, knocking the unlucky miner behind him over. They both were quickly trampled over by the surging horde, and two more miners took their place. Michael took a quick step backward, dodging two classic pickaxe attacks, and happy that the tunnel was too thin for more than two miners to attack at a time. Michael lashed out after the miners completed their downward strokes, sending them both to the ground to be trampled on. Two more miners took their place. Two more miners fell to be trampled. Michael’s fight continued this way until he realized he was slowly losing ground. If he continued this way he would be slowly pushed back into a wider cave and be surrounded. He had no desire to be slowly picked to death like an ore vein, so he started to formulate a new plan.

Michael continued to dispatch miners by the pair while he thought of a better strategy. Nothing he came up with would be good enough though. The only thing he could think off was to turn and run. He could kite the horde into another narrow tunnel and do this same thing over again, but that would take too long. He needed to be fast. Ogrim was so close, just at the other end of the tunnel. His brother would no doubt be there as well, probably in one of the dark metal cages the dungeon produced in mass in one of the lower levels.

“Dammit,” Michael whispered in between heavy breathes. He would have to use the power the Prince gave him. It was the only way he would be able to kill all these miners with enough time to save his brother. If the prisoner's escort got here, James’s rescue would be much more difficult, if not impossible. Still, did he really want to tap into that power again? After the Lich Prince had awarded him with a mark, he had relied on its power to survive. Every time he cast a Death Bolt though, he got a little more out of touch with reality, which was already hard enough to stay in touch with as it was.

Strong Death Bolt - Cast a strong bolt of Death. Damage is equal to 3.5x Intelligence.

Michael read the ability and got excited for a moment. He had never had the chance to look at it before now. He was always too paranoid in trying to survive in the dungeon to check his interface. He barely let himself sleep for fear of being discovered and re-captured. Michael’s excitement quickly died when he pulled up the information for the mark he received. His ability didn’t say anything about going mad or losing his touch with reality, so he thought for a moment that something had changed and he would be able to access the power without risking his newfound sanity. The description text for his mark told him that was not the case though.

Mark of the Lich King - You have been gifted a mark by the Lich King, leader of the undead and evil factions. At its current rank, the mark allows you to master death magic at a rate that is proportionate to your lack of sanity. This mark causes insanity to build with every use of death magic.

“Damn,” Michael said defeated. The Lich must use his mark to ensure his followers are strong, but never have the mental capacity to dethrone him. Michael knew it was smart because even though he was aware of the repercussions he was about to accept them willingly. The mark was just too powerful to ignore. He needed it to save his brother. Michael was sure the Lich King knew that others with his mark would be in the same situation Michael was in now, smart enough to be wary of the power, but desperate enough to use it anyway.

Michael put his attention back into the fight just in time. The horde had finally pushed him out of the narrow tunnel and was struggling to get out themselves. Michael gritted his teeth and doubled his ferocity just long enough to make some space. Then he began to cast.

Michael swirled his hands, calling on the familiar feeling of death. He winced as longing, desperation, and insanity were once again welcomed into his body. He channeled the feelings into his hands, solidifying them. He hands moved instinctively to mold the channels into a skull. When it was finished, Michael pointed the skull down the tunnel and mentally let it know there were many lives to consume down below. The skull snapped and snarled and Michael knew the spell was ready. He released the skull and it let out an ethereal scream that caused the cave to grow cold and dark. It shot forward with an explosion of dark and purple mist, and Michael waved the mist away from his face as he watched the horror he had just unleashed. He knew the mist wasn’t harmful to him since he cast the spell, but it trailed behind the skull, consuming the flesh of anything else it touched. The skull traveled down the hallway in a straight line, laughing, and chomping its jaws the entire way down.

Michael pressed himself against the wall of the now pitch black cave, just in case his death bolt didn’t kill one of the miners. He was pretty sure his spell killed each and every one of them, but it was too dark to tell and he didn’t want to risk getting hit with a pickaxe in the head just because he couldn’t see it coming.
Suddenly, a light began to grow from the ground. At first, it was a faint white, but then blue and even purple lights joined in and lit the tunnel.

“Loot.” Michael sighed as he stepped over the assortment of common, uncommon, and pair of extraordinary items dropped by the horde. He wanted to grab them, but couldn’t afford to waste even an extra second with his brother's life on the line. Michael sped up to a sprint and ran down the slope to Ogrim's cavern, promising himself he would come back for the loot if he could.

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About the author

BigMartyrs

Bio: Writer of disparate LitRPG stories.

Current works = Legends of the Great Savanna (published) , Milton (Ongoing)

Stay in touch at JLLincoln.com

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