“Okay,” Patrick said, caught off-guard. He was the one that usually ran off first, forcing others to follow after him. Patrick didn’t want to pursue after James though, as that wouldn’t cause a good enough distraction. He scanned the room until his eyes fell upon the golden Warhammer in the center of the room. It floated in the air, turning slowly due to the purple mist being forced into it. His fingers twitched. Then he smiled, placed his True Iron Maul into his satchel, and activated his bulldoze ability. The world around him became a blur. The world in front of him was the Warhammer. In the split second it took him to barrel into two unsuspected mages and send them tumbling across the room, Patrick wondered if he was even large enough to wield the Warhammer. He decided he didn’t care. Soul mist spewed out of the tubes without a mage to direct it and clung on the floor like a dense fog. He heard strange voices yelling, but he couldn’t make out what they were saying. He couldn’t make out anything other than the Warhammer. He reached out and snatched it from the air.
“AHHHHHHH,” Patrick involuntarily screamed as he hefted the Warhammer above his head, body pulsating with newfound power… and rage. The Warhammer was his. No one else was large enough to wield it. Only him. He deserved it.
Grats! You received a Legendary Warhammer!
Patrick grunted away the notification as his eyes locked on the terrified mages in front of him. He let the Warhammer descend. The weight of the falling weapon would have been enough to kill the mages, and Patrick was keen to test just a theory, but the Warhammer had other plans. Patrick felt the weapon’s bloodlust flow through his hands and into his heart like hot plasma. The blunt edge of the hammer sunk deep into the ground, liquidizing the mage that once stood it its way. The other mages ran.
“AHahaha!” Patrick chuckled maniacally. He knew he would never catch the mages, not while carrying such a heavy weapon. So the giant red-head hefted it up once more and let it crush the organic tubes. He might not be able to catch the mages right away, but he could at least destroy all their hiding spots.
You can runnnn, He thought as he let the weapons energy consume himself. Metal, rock, organic matter; it all became his paper prison. As the Warhammer swung around, Patrick’s massive body was thrown off balance and into tubes, cast iron foundries, and mages, causing almost as much damage as the weapon itself.
The remaining mages finally mounted a defense. Patrick could see them casting in the distance, in his direction. The molten rock that oozed from the foundries crackled as it traveled along the floor, lighting up his Warhammer and the mages worried faces. He activated his bulldoze ability. Instead of shooting forward with a sonic boom, he fell to a knee. A debuff told him that he was immobilized and nothing else. His rage built up in pressure, not having an outlet to escape.
“GAAHHhhhhhh!” the red-head yelled, gripping the handle of his new weapon as it stood on the floor, hammer-side down.
Patrick looked over at James. He was busy dragging the first human from a cage. It was clear that he needed more time to get them to safety. Patrick heard the mages laugh to his right, and his rage built to a fury. They were mocking him. He turned around, just in time to see a laughing skull, chomping its way over to him. The skull seemed to scream and chuckle at the same time. He grew cold, and then he was hit by the spell. He collapsed, letting his hand fall away from the Warhammer’s long hilt.
His breath caught in his lungs, Pain, he thought. It had become an unfamiliar feeling as of late. He turned his head weakly. The mages had disregarded him and now focused on James.
“No,” Patrick whispered. He navigated to his notifications.
Grats! You’re level 30! Choose;
1 - Get inhumanely strong. (Stone Mastery)
2 - Understand fighting things better.
Good, my stone mastery class, he thought. He felt his skin chill as a death bolt flew through the air. It left a lingering depression in the air.
“No,” Patrick snarled as he picked himself up off the ground. He wanted to scream but could barely find the motivation to stand. The room was left empty in the death bolts wake, and so was his resolve. The only thing keeping him from staying on the floor was that he knew his new class could probably save James. That and the anger about the fact he wouldn’t be able to announce his new class with the fanfare it deserved. The hints his interface gave him about it showed that it would be awesome.
“Is it too much to want to experience something with my friends?” Patrick asked the empty air. Then he chose his class. His head grew heavy and fell involuntarily to his shoulder. His powerful neck strained to get control of it. Then his left arm grew heavy. He collapsed to the floor again.
“What…” he said, the words coming out of his mouth reflexively, “is…”
Then his eyes rolled into his head. He tensed them, forcing all his will into regaining control over that one part of his body. They rolled against his lids like marble balls in sandpaper, and eventually fell upon the Warhammer.
He reached out with his right hand. He fought against the growing heaviness of it and the foreign feeling of not being strong enough. It had been so long since he wasn’t strong enough. He could do anything now, and he wasn’t going to fail his friend. With one final push of will, his trembling fingers wrapped around the hilt of the Warhammer. The rage that fueled him before the deathbolt hit him returned. His eyes gleamed a bloody red as he dismissed a notification about his will increasing. Then, he stood; panting, confused, and furious.
The debuff that glued him to the floor was gone. The emptiness from the death both was still present, but only a distant memory compared to the rage flowing from the Warhammer. Patrick sighted the hooded death mages and activated his bulldoze ability.
“Can you fight?” James asked Jess as he pulled her from the bent bars of her cage. She shook her head. “Shit.”
James threw her arm over his shoulder and walked her over to the portal. Laying her down next to Trevor, he looked back. Destruction littered the cavern. Fires burned from spilled magma. Purple fog dispersed along the floor and steam gathered above it. Past the wreckage, a small rock golem was locked in battle with the Prakx that guarded the portal to the lower levels.
“Patrick?” James said quietly to himself before yelling it into the cavern. The golem didn’t answer.
Shit, James thought before looking back and forth between the two fighting giants and the two prisoners at his feet, let’s get you guys out of here. Patrick, if that even is him, will have to respawn.
“Frooode!” James yelled as he descended the tower of stairs, two half-conscious prisoners leaning on either shoulder.
“Frode!” he yelled, rounding the corner of the Chieftain’s hut.
“Frode,” he whispered, collapsing past the hut’s main flap, exhausted. Strange smells burned his nostrils and dirt flowed freely into them as he struggled to catch his breath on the ground, but he was too tired to care at the moment. He called for Frode again, but no answer came. In fact, the whole village seemed empty now that he thought about it.
Everyone is just on their way to The Outpost or working, he told himself.
After a long moment, his energy bar returned, and he propped himself onto his elbows. The prisoners lying next to him could have done without a fall, but they were still breathing. Looking into the darkness of the Chieftain’s hut, he thought he heard movement.
“Frode?” James said, throwing his words into the darkness like chum thrown into the ocean to distract a shark. Two Martyr legs stepped in front of his vision, seemingly out of nowhere. James reeled backward. Long hairy fingers wrapped around his arm and pulled him to his feet.
“What…” the Chieftain’s Advisor rumbled, “are you afraid of James?”
James met the advisor's eyes. In them, he saw curiosity, intelligence, wisdom, and everything else he came to relate to the wizened Martyr, but behind them, he saw something else.
“Nothing,” James said, “You just startled me is all.” Frode released his arm. James patted himself off.
“More prisoners,” the advisor confirmed with a tone that suggested it could have been a question, “Good work, James. I will take them from here.” The Martyr gently lifted the prisoners up, cradled them in his arms one by one, and laid them down in makeshift Ingo-skin cots. The mood in the room went from a gloomy one to one where he wasn’t welcome anymore. James nodded and stepped out.