“Those giant crawfish monsters? Yeah, I saw one strangling a gigantic toad. Please don’t tell me what I think you’re gonna tell me.”
“You asked for the best, and they have the best. I’ll tell you a bit about them, and hopefully you can figure out the best way to kill them. First, they are blind, and the mana organ you want is located in the tip of their head. Second, their mana sense extends for 30 feet in every direction. Good luck!”
She turned back to a book she had open on her counter and started reading, subtly telling me to get lost. Sighing in defeat, I headed out to the hidden swamp area, hoping that I could figure out a plan to take care of the crayclaws. I spent a half hour watching fish swimming about, but just couldn’t come up with a good plan. Ranged attacks were out, my crossbow wouldn’t be able to pierce the armor. Not to mention their incredibly powerful claw blast attack. Djarleen practically told me that they have completely spherical vision, so I wouldn’t be able to sneak close and attack them. Even if I got close, they could use their tail for a swift escape. Feeling dejected, I started heading back.
As I got closer to the end of the raised path, I froze as I heard voices arguing. Slowly crouching down, I crawled as close as I could and looked down to find a group of five players arguing with each other.
“It doesn’t matter that we could hold this position against a horde damnit! Even if we somehow managed to drag all the kobolds here, we would be overwhelmed in minutes. We don’t have the stamina to hold out!” The one arguing had to be a paladin, as his armor had a gentle silver glow and his shield bore a red cross. He was arguing with a rogue dressed in dark brown leathers with twin daggers hanging from his hips.
“Look, Lord Zephyr,” he couldn’t have put more derision into the paladin’s name if he tried, “it’s not like we are going to have to fight all of them at once. They will be trickling in.”
“And just how are you going to guarantee that, ShadowSlasher?” Wow, Mr. Paladin has some snark in him as well. Impressive for a class that is usually hoity toity.
“Unless they all move at different speeds, they won’t arrive at the same time. Just keep killing them as they come and we will be fine. You bunch them up and Merlin here lays waste to them with a few AoE blasts.”
“My name is Albinion, not Merlin.” The wizard said, and man did he look the part. He had a gnarled staff with a ruby set in the tip, orange and red robes with a flame motif, and a pure white beard that fell down to his waist. “Besides, we don’t know how many kobolds are in this city. I can’t guarantee my mana will hold out.”
“Albinion is right.” Lord Zephyr replied. “Besides, I will need to break with my stamina on occasion.”
“That’s what your ninja dude is for. Surely you could parry enough incoming blows to give the pally a break from tanking, right Bakuretsumaru?”
“God, why did I pick that name?” The ‘ninja’ was an elven rogue with twin wakizashi style blades. “And no, I’m not sure I could hold back a horde, no matter how good my parrying is. GreenThumb will be hard pressed to keep me alive with her healing.” GreenThumb must have been the elf druid in the flowing green robes. Hmm, not a bad group all things considered. Frontline tank, healer, mage for AoE, and two melee dps to take things down quickly. If I were going to have to fight them, the healer would have to die first. Without her, numbers could overwhelm the rest. While I was distracted with strategy, ShadowSlasher activated a skill that had me break out in cold sweat.
Guardians of the air, flitting merrily along the winds.
Grant me the grace to walk upon the air,
To heights unknown.
I beseech thee in the name of thy ruler, the queen of air.
As he chanted, a green spell circle started slowly rotating around his feet, as mana so concentrated it was visible to all flowed around him before settling into his muscles. [Sylph’s Grace] was an elemental spell that technically anyone could learn, provided they went through the ten quest chain that opens at level 25. He had to be at least level 30, and had just doubled his agility.
“GODDAMNIT SHADOW! WHY ARE YOU USING THAT SKILL!” The paladin roared. “You realize that you can only use it once a day, right? And there’s no guarantee we will make it to the Kobold King within the hour time limit of your skill!” Heh, guess he can channel some righteous anger.
“Oh, but I do have a way to guarantee he gets here, and you should all activate yours as well. I’ll give you one minute.” The other members gave him the side eye, but ended up starting their own chants. Red, brown, and blue circles burst to life beneath the feet of the mage, paladin, and ninja respectively.
Guardians of flame, I offer to sate your ceaseless hunger
Guardians of earth, sentinels of time.
Guardians of water, ever in motion.
Grant me the power I desire,
Grant unto me your determination.
Flow past all obstructions,
Lay waste to what stands before me.
Weather all storms, fear no flames.
Wear down all resistance.
I call in the name of your lord, the king of flames.
I ask in the name of your ruler, the eternal king of earth.
I ask in the name of thy ruler, queen of the deep waters.
Shit, shit, shit, SHIT! Four of them have finished the quest sets? Salamander’s wrath, doubles magic damage and fire spells cost half mana. Gnome’s resolve triples physical defense. Undine’s flow doubles dexterity. Before I could soil myself any more, the druid started her chant. Instead of a solid circle, she actually had one of each of the previous colors divided into quadrants.
Primordial Goddess, thy elements have been called.
Here in their presence,
I reach beyond the heavens, to call upon higher powers still.
Grant this boon, heal all wounds and banish fatigue.
No FUCKING way! The hardest path of all, Gaia’s regrowth tripled recovery rates. The damned druid now has basically unlimited mana.
“I knew y’all could do it, bravo, BRAVO!” The rogue who started it all was clapping. “And now, let me show you how I’m going to ensure everyone in this blasted city attacks at once.” He turned his back to the group, and everyone noticed at the same time as me that there was a kobold child staring at him.
“NO! DON’T!” The rest of the group realized his plan at once, but the rogue shoved the child’s minder aside and gave the child a savage kick, sending the poor thing flying but thankfully not killing it.
Let your rage flow! Light races have attacked the children! Slay or capture them. Failure to respond to this quest will end in exile. Rewards will be based upon contribution. Until the transgressors have paid, you have been granted the Ritous Anger buff.
Skill cooldowns reduced by 50%
Attack damage increased by 300%
Attack speed increased by 50%
Defense lowered by 75%
Stamina consumption increased by 100%
“GODDAMNIT SHADOW! You just got blacklisted by our entire guild! Enjoy perpetual Kill on Sight status!” Zephyr was pissed, and I didn’t blame him. He was sure to get a taboo out of this, and would most likely be excommunicated by whatever church he had already joined.
“You should stop worrying about me, and start worrying about what is going to come through that hallway there.” Shadow said. “I’ll distract the child’s minder so we aren’t attacked from the back.”
Their conversation had gone on while I read my prompt, and as I started charging mana into my hammer’s head the paladin and ninja took position blocking the hallway. With the group spread apart, I had to take my chance. Charging forward and leaping from the edge, I aimed for the healer’s head. I unleashed a savage [Mana shockwave] as my overhead strike slammed down, splattering her head like it was a watermelon.
“You’re mine!” I snarled at the mage, who was in shock that the healer had died so swiftly. As I charged him, he pointed his staff at me.
“[Blazing inferno]” He shouted, but before he could channel his spell I had deflected the tip of his staff with my hammer. As his spell shot towards the ceiling, I let loose a slashing attack from 2 to 8. Fortunately for him, he stumbled backwards and avoided my slash. I didn’t let it slow down my combo, as a turn of my wrist set me up for a horizontal slash determined to disembowel him. The surprisingly spry old man managed to suck in his stomach, but to do so had to stick his head forward. Smiling, I grabbed his beard and tugged him further off balance, while setting the shaft of my hammer across the back of his neck, scythe pointing down.
“For Thanatos! [Reaper’s Edge].” I activated my skill, and with a vicious jerk decapitated the mage and threw his head behind me. By now the sounds of battle were coming from the hallway, but the tank was holding for the moment. I turned to see the rogue dancing and taunting the child’s minder, as she desperately swung at him with a wooden club to no avail. While he was distracted, I crept forward and activated [Keen Edge]. He dodged one last time, and while his weight was on one foot, I took a swing with a slight upward curve to the back of his knee.
“GYAAAAAH!” He cried out as his leg from the knee down was amputated, the fall on his back temporarily stunning him. I took the time to smash both of his wrists with a [Mana Shockwave], ending his participation in the battle.
“Guard him, but don’t kill him.” I ordered the woman kobold, waiting for her to nod and place her club at his throat before turning to see how the remaining two were holding up. It didn’t look good for the kobolds, who were restricted to attacking two at a time. They couldn’t evade nearly as much, and the defense boost the paladin had was letting his healing skills keep pace.
I charged up another [Mana shockwave], using the last of my mana to do so. I waited for the paladin to get set to receive a blow, and smashed him in the back of the head, causing him to stumble and miss the block. As he was disoriented from the blows, I grabbed the neck rim of his armor, and jerked him over my outstretched leg to trip him. “PILE ON HIM AND HOLD HIM DOWN!” I cried to the kobold swarm that was now pressing through the opening, as I staggered over behind the ninja. Confused, I looked to see I was dangerously low on stamina.
As the ninja was hard pressed deflecting attacks from the three kobolds that had managed to get near him, I slipped up from the back and placed my scythe edge along his throat and whispered, “Surrender or die.” Both him and the kobolds froze for a second, before the ninja dropped his blades in resignation. He backed up, and kobolds swarmed the chamber. Several were applying first aid, and I saw Djarleen handing out health potions.
The crowd suddenly parted, and the King entered carrying a massive mace. He was flanked by four guards, two bearing sword and shield and two with crossbows and their own maces. “Light-siders, you come to our home and attack our children. Even your gods refused to stoop so low. Have you prepared yourselves to receive the mark of taboo?”
I saw the look of resignation on the paladin’s face, and for some reason found myself speaking up. “Pardon me, your majesty, but I would speak for some of these light-siders.” I had gone into a kneel, but imagined from the silence that everyone was staring at me with varying looks of shock on their faces.
“You are Angus, yes? Why would you speak for these light-siders?”
“Yes, your majesty. Before they attacked the children, I was watching the group from a ledge above. Their actions lead me to believe that four of them are a team, and the fifth one recently joined.”
“While that may be, I fail to see how this should lessen their fate.”
“That alone shouldn’t, your majesty. However, I believe that it was this fifth member that was the sole driving force for attacking the child. From their reactions, the rest of the group was appalled by the actions of the rogue over there. The paladin has even sworn to place him perpetually on their kill on sight list.”
“Is this true?” The king turned to the paladin.
“It is, your majesty. My guild, the Ryu Knights, will endeavor to kill this rogue any time we come across him in areas where fighting is allowed.”
“Hmmm, is there anything else you would say in their defense, Angus?”
I thought back for a second on how the rogue acted, and had another thought. “Your majesty, I have an odd feeling about how the rogue was acting. I know there are skills that can be used to hide titles and achievements. Is there a way to forcefully read someone’s achievements?”
“There is such a skill. All rulers have it, but why are you asking?”
“Despite the lack of a taboo mark, I believe that the rogue has done this before.”
“Hmm, there is a possibility.” The king said, a thoughtful look on his face. He walked over until he stood over the legless rogue. “Do you wish to tell me now, or shall I go looking?” He said with no emotion.
“Go fuck yourself.” The rogue said, spitting at the king.
“[Absolute dominion].” The king said, voice thundering through the cavern. “Display all of this one’s achievements for all to see.”
Hidden Genocide II
Kill all residents of 3 monster villages and leave no witnesses
+3 to all stats every level
Kill all residents of 5 monster villages and leave no witnesses
“Dear god, you’ve done this before? How did I not see this?” The paladin muttered to himself.
“Oh piss off Zephyr, you sanctimonious prick. The gods tell us to slay monsters to earn power. Why should we limit who and what we kill? Besides, the bonuses to stats every level will make me unstoppable.”
“I call for [Divine judgement]!” The king bellowed. “Gods of light, Gods of darkness, set aside your wars and judge this heretic!”
At his words, flashes of light and darkness started strobing through the cavern, culminating two orbs, one white and one black appearing near the king.
“What would you have of us, Kobold King?”
“This one has slaughtered monster villages in the past, and tried to do so again today. As he shows no remorse, I ask for a soul curse be placed upon him.”
“Fuck off with your soul curses, I can always re-roll a new character.” The rogue said while chuckling.
“Agreed.” Both orbs thundered at the same time.
“The gods of light rebuke your actions.” The white orb said.
“The gods of darkness rebuke your actions.” The black orb said.
“Those of this plane rebuke your actions.” The king intoned. At the conclusion of the ritual lines, a massive pressure descended upon the cavern, forcing all save the king and orbs to their knees. Slowly, a multicolored globe appeared, and grew to the size of a softball. A bolt of lightning shot from the orb into the rogue’s forehead, before the orb itself rocketed into his chest, burning a hole straight through his equipment.
“AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!” The rogue shrieked and writhed on the ground, letting me see that there was a mark on his forehead and chest, but he was too far away to see the detail. A worldwide notification then went through the servers.
Divine Judgement has descended!
Beware, those who would seek power without limits for how it is obtained. The player ShadowSlasher has been found guilty of attempted genocide, as well as having performed genocide in the past. This behavior is so far beyond taboo, that the gods have stepped in to punish the player. He has been struck with a soulbound curse, as will any who attempt to duplicate his works. Let this be the only warning you need.
This curse is attached to the player’s soul. As such, it will appear even if the player chooses another body.
All factions start out as hated
Faction gains are halved, faction losses are doubled
Experience gained is halved
Characters will gain 2 less stats per level
“What the hell do you mean it appears even if I choose another body?”
“It means that you will never have a strong character in Oblivion Online again, Shadow.” The paladin smiled. “We will still keep you on our kill list, don’t worry. I’ve also taken a picture of your curse mark, and any character with that mark will also go on the list.”
“ENOUGH!” The king roared. “We thank you for your judgement.” He said while bowing to the orbs, and they both immediately disappeared. “We also have no more need of you.” He said to the rogue, before smashing his head with his mace.
“Now, what are we going to do with the rest of you?” The king turned to the two remaining members of the group. “Either way, your friends won’t be resurrected here. They will receive the traditional taboo mark. Depending on your punishment, we will extend the same to them.” The king moved over the body of the healer, and a white light shot out of his hand into her chest. He did the same with the mage. As he walked to the paladin, a thoughtful look crossed his face and he turned to me.
“You said you saw this group before the battle took place. Who was it who killed the druid?”
“I did, your majesty.”
“And the mage?”
“That was me as well, your majesty.”
“The rogue?” He spat, as if disgusted by referencing him.
“The caretaker distracted him, your majesty. That allowed me to come up behind him and take his leg off at the knee.”
“I see.” He said, turning to look at the caretaker, who was staring at her feet. “And the paladin and this ninja, how were they subdued?”
“I struck a blow to the paladin’s head, and several of our kin piled on him. The ninja surrendered when I was able to sneak up behind him and place my blade against his neck.”
“I see. As you were instrumental in defeating the group that came here, I will ask part of their punishment be gear for yourself. What are you in need of?”
I was shocked. Free gear from each of them? “Well your majesty, I still need three bags. Aside from that, rings or necklaces.”
“Very well. You, paladin and you, ninja. This is your choice. Hand over either a 200 slot bag, or a single piece of level 25 or higher equipment that is at least unique rarity or higher. Or you could receive the same taboo as your friends.”
“What is your class, Angus?” The ninja asked.
“I see. Physical melee?” At my nod he continued. “I have this unique ring that would be a good fit for you then. Here, it’s yours.” He tossed me a silver band with a green stone in it. I did a quick identify on it.
Kantorus’ ring of Precision
Kantorus was an ancient elven marksman. His vision was so acute and his skill so great, it was said he could shoot the wings off a fly at a hundred yards. Some of his abilities have been imbued into this ring.
Critical hit chance +50%
Critical hit damage +100%
+35% chance to find hidden stashes.
“This ring, are you sure about it?”
“Heh, judging by that reaction, you like it as much as I did. Yes, go on and take it.”
“I take it the ring is acceptable?” The king asked.
“Yes, your majesty.”
“I don’t have any unique equipment that would be worth it for you, Angus. Instead, I’ll hand over one of my bags.” Zephyr said, handing over an empty 200 slot bag.
“Very well you two. The only other punishment I will place upon you is this: For the next five levels, you will earn 10% less experience. If your friends wish to remove the taboo mark the same way as you both did, then they will have three days to return and turn in the items. After that, they will need to do whatever the light gods decree as their punishment. Is there anything else you wish to say before you are killed?” When neither of the players made a move, the king smashed their heads with one blow each.
“Now that there are no more outsiders, we can give out proper rewards.” The king said with a smile.
Bio: I'm a chemist that gave writing a try, and loved the results. Everything is mostly for fun right now, though I might try and get some things published eventually. Certain traits of my daughter have made it into bits of my stories, and she sometimes keeps me company when we both have trouble sleeping.