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Bright, crimson blood sprayed from the cut, swirling into the air as the ability activated. Gathering together, the blood began to sway, as if it were burning. With a flash of red light, the blood collapsed, revealing a shining parchment hanging in the air in front of Ouroboros. Spidery writing filled the parchment, yet when Thorn looked at it, he was unable to see what it said because the words seemed to skitter to the edge of his vision. The feeling that the parchment gave Thorn was one of deep evil, sending a shiver down his spine.

“I, Ouroboros, initiate the sacred trial of combat under witness of the supreme contract.” Under Thorn’s gaze, the cut on Ouroboros’ hand healed as he reached toward the floating contract. “Under the ancient laws, this trial of combat shall be carried out without interference from any third party. The penalty for interference is death.” Ouroboros’ words manifested themselves in blood red letters as he spoke, hanging in the air threateningly. “The wager shall be the life of the loser and free passage into the valley for the winner, without any interference from a third party. The stage shall be this battlefield. The weapons shall be the armaments of the participants.”

The words hanging in the air pulsed and separated, copying themselves. Shivering, they flew through the air, stopping in front of Thorn, as if to give him a chance to read them. As he began to look over them, the world seemed to freeze for Thorn, and the words morphed, turning into crimson chains that seeped into his body.

*ding*

The Cursed Life and Death Contract

You are the target of an ancient cursed contract created in the Lost Era, before even the gods walked the land. Due to the curse attached to it, this contract may not be refused, and the terms of the wager are absolute. However, should the one who initiated the contract lose, they will pay double the price.


Given the strength of your bloodline, you have the opportunity to change a facet of the contract. You may choose to increase the scope of the stage or increase the wager. Should you choose to increase the wager of the contract and win, the loser of the wager will pay double the price.


Wager: Life and Death

Winner: 24 hours of safety while in Fang Valley

Loser: Death (normal penalties apply)


A cursed contract that could not be avoided. Thorn was almost upset by how game breaking this ability seemed, yet when he thought about his abilities, he could not find it in himself to be perturbed. As one of the very few four category class holders, it made sense that Ouroboros would have incredibly powerful abilities.

His mind working furiously, Thorn examined the details of the contract. Its basic form was simple, a trial of combat, like the one he had faced in the Wolfkin village. With two participants, the trial would end when one of them died. Technically, they could surrender, but since the loser would die, it was effectively the same.

The prize of the trial of combat was simple, safe passage into and around the valley. That section was a bit confusing because of all of the detailed terms, but as far as Thorn could understand, players would not be able to attack the winner of the trial in the pass or valley while their opponent was dead. This sort of immunity was very powerful as it would allow Ouroboros to escape from being surrounded and killed by Thorn’s reinforcements.

Despite knowing that Ouroboros would be locked out of Nova Terra for 48 hours if he lost the fight due to the double penalty, Thorn wasn’t satisfied. Ouroboros had achieved his current abilities by stepping on Thorn, and being kicked out of the game for two days simply was not enough for Thorn’s tastes. Making his decision, Thorn blinked, the world around him resuming its normal flow of time. Smiling grimly, Thorn stepped forward.

“By my rights under the ancient law, I, as the challenged, wager more than my life and safe passage. I, Lord Greymane, the Moon Wolf, wager my title, my possessions, my land. Winner takes all.”

Thorn’s deep voice had no problem carrying over the battlefield, eliciting gasps from those on the wall. Looking up at Thorn’s wide smile, Ouroboros paused, his mind racing.

“Why bother with such a lame bet? If we are going to throw down, why not make it worth it? What do you think, Ouroboros? If you win, you can get everything. The valley, the citadel, even the allegiance of the Wolfkin. All you have to do is walk over me again.” Spreading his arms, as if to take in everything around him, Thorn took another step forward. “Why are you hesitating? Don’t you have the confidence to grab what you want here? All you have to do is beat me.”

Behind the Blood Guard, a flickering, ethereal rose approached swiftly. As the flower apparition came closer, the heavily armored guards shifted, facing outwards, their fidgeting revealing their nervousness. Rushing over to the wall, the Society of Roses stopped, and their leader stepped forward, her sword raised. Just about to order the attack, she paused, as if she was reading something.

“Stand down, ladies. No fight quite yet.” Her brow furrowed, Julia turned her eyes on Ouroboros and Thorn. After a brief consideration, she ordered her troops to move to the gate and strode forward, pushing past the Blood Guard who hesitated as if they did not know whether to try and stop her.

“Get out of the way.” Her voice was ice cold, sending shivers down the spine of the Blood Guard in her way. For the briefest of moments it seemed as if the Blood Guard would not move, and blood would be spilled, the air growing even tenser.

“Let them through.”

Looking gratefully at their commander, who ordered them to step aside, the Blood Guard stepped back, letting the Society of Roses pass by Ouroboros and Thorn and walk to the gate. Everyone who had entered the area had been notified that a trial by combat was about to take place, and the commander of the Blood Guard saw no reason to fight until it was resolved. Besides, while the commander was confident in the group of players he had trained, he had no desire to face up against thirty of the best PvP combatants in the game.

Walking past Thorn, a few of the Society of Roses smiled and waved, greeting Thorn. The rest looked at him with unabashed curiosity, whispering to each other. Hearing the giggles and seeing the pointing fingers, Thorn shuddered internally. Only Julia stopped next to Thorn, bumping fists with him, the gentle tink of their gauntlets ringing across the battlefield.

At the sound, Ouroboros’ pupils shrank, and his smile faded. The motion was such a simple action, yet somehow it managed to convey the depth of the relationship between Thorn and Athena, the Queen of Roses. As the sound echoed in their ears, the Blood Guard trembled, and Ouroboros sighed, knowing that he had gotten himself into serious trouble.

He had assumed that Thorn, though giant, was simply a player when his investigation into Thorn’s background had not revealed anything. Yet now the Society of Roses had committed themselves fully to the fight, and it was obvious that Athena had a close relationship to Thorn. Cursing mentally, Ouroboros could not believe that his investigation had missed that piece of information.

While Ragnarok was one of the top guilds in the game, no one wanted a piece of the Society of Roses. The elders of Ragnarok had warned him numerous times not to get on Athena’s bad side, not that he would have challenged her anyways. Suddenly, Ouroboros’ breath caught in his throat as he stared at Thorn. He knew who Athena was in the real world, which was why Ragnarok did its best to stay out of her way, and seeing her bump fists with Thorn triggered a memory in his head.

“Come, Ouroboros. You challenged me, I set the wager. That is all there is to it. There is nothing to consider as the trial of combat has been set.” The giant stepped forward, the force of his presence commanding all of the attention on the battlefield. “Let us begin.”

“You are Xavier Lee.” Ouroboros spoke numbly, his voice was quiet but certain. His posture sagged slightly as he looked down at the ground. “You are Julia Lee’s nephew, the owner of Atlas.”

Silence fell over the battlefield as every one of the Blood Guard froze, any remaining fighting spirit draining from them.

“So? Right now, I’m just Thorn. Let the real world stay in the real world, and Nova Terra stay in Nova Terra.”

At Thorn’s words, Ouroboros’ gaze, which had been directed at the ground, snapped up, his eyes searching Thorn’s face. Seeing no deceit, the black-armored warrior shook his head in disbelief.

“I don’t know if you are heroic or simply foolish, but I agree. I’ll accept your terms.” As his words faded, Ouroboros slipped his hands back into his gauntlets and picked up his helmet. “The contract is established.”

*ding*

The Cursed Life and Death Contract - Updated

You are the target of an ancient cursed contract created in the Lost Era, before even the gods walked the land. Due to the curse attached to it, this contract may not be refused, and the terms of the wager are absolute. However, should the one who initiated the contract lose, they will pay double the price.


Through the strength of your bloodline, you have changed a facet of the contract. You have chosen to increase the wager to include your combined title, [Lord Greymane, the Moon Wolf], your position as Lord Greymane, and the land you currently rule.


Wager: Life and Death - Winner Takes All

Winner: Gains everything lost by the loser

Loser: Loses Title [Lord Greymane, the Moon Wolf] along with associated positions and areas (Position of Lord Greymane, Area: [Greymane Keep], Area: [Fang Forest], Area: [Greymane Village], Area: [The Twins]) or equivalent titles, positions, and resources


His chest burning with excitement, Thorn summoned his claws, flexing his hands as the silver light condensed around the end of his fingers. Gripping his large metal weapon, Thorn dropped into his stance, taking in his opponent’s every movement. While he had never fought against Ouroboros, he had watched the former Holy Guardian carve his way through countless mobs, and he knew how skilled his opponent was.

Ouroboros had traded his shield in for a much larger, two-handed sword that he wore across his back. He had retained his full suit of plate armor, but the style had changed from that of a paladin to something sleeker with spikes on the shoulders. Ouroboros fixed his helmet in place and pulled his sword from the ground in one swift motion, leveling it at Thorn.

“Come, let’s settle this.”

“Haha, that is my line.” Thorn wasted no time in dashing forward, his mace swinging through the air.

Avoiding the strike with a neat dash to the side, Ouroboros returned a slash of his own, his sword cutting toward Thorn’s side. Blocking with his club, Thorn stepped back, creating a bit of distance. Normally, both fighters would want to be at an arm's reach to give them room to swing their weapons, but with Thorn’s larger size, distance benefited him more.

For a tense few minutes they traded blows, testing each other with probing strikes. Thorn’s attention focused on his defense, his attacks quick, meant to try and poke out Ouroboros’ weakness. Ouroboros did the same, never quite committing fully to any of his strikes. Back and forth they pushed, their weapons dancing.

Cutting at Thorn’s feet with his blade, Ouroboros suddenly accelerated, putting his full weight behind his attack. Sensing the danger, Thorn jumped back, throwing out an overhead strike. Before his attack could hit, Ouroboros sidestepped and slashed up with his sword.

“[Blood Strike!]” As his sword swung toward Thorn’s stomach, blood seeped from between the plates in Ouroboros’ gauntlet. Joining together, the blood congregated on the handle of his sword and shot up the blade, staining the edge with a crimson glow. The tip of the sword clashed against Thorn’s armor, scattering sparks into the air. With a roar, Ouroboros stepped forward as soon as his blade made contact, trying to stab it into Thorn’s stomach.

Grunting at the impact, Thorn found himself staggering backwards as the blood infused attack drilled into him. Gritting his teeth, he shifted his body to the side, and smashed down with a palm attack, hoping to break the blade by trapping it between his palm and body.

As if he had a sixth sense, Ouroboros jumped back as soon as he saw Thorn’s body start to shift, quickly getting out of Thorn’s reach. Separating, neither warrior moved forward to re-engage. Instead, Thorn took a small step back, his hand pressed to his stomach. Silence had fallen over the battlefield, and when the ringing sounds of their combat died down, all that could be heard was Thorn’s labored breath.

“Whew. This might be harder than I thought,” Thorn murmured, gulping in air. He could feel the spot that Ouroboros’ sword had stabbed into his side, and while it had not managed to pierce through, the strike had deformed his armor quite badly. No doubt he would have a significant bruise. Twisting his body a bit to make sure there was no impairment to his movement, Thorn glanced down to see what damage had been done.

“Your defeat is inevitable, Thorn. Why bother with this useless struggle?” The hypnotic undertones of Ouroboros’ words slid through the air, poking at the edges of Thorn’s will.

“Haha, you mistake what I am saying, Ouroboros.” Thorn looked up from inspecting his side, his eyes glowing with excitement. “I’m pleased that I will not be able to flatten you with a single strike. You must understand how frustrating it is to rarely have a solid fight. But here you are, presenting yourself to me.” Thorn stepped forward, his aura deepening as he did so, his words taking on a slightly hoarse tone. “Thank you for offering yourself up!”

“[Wolf Lord’s Howl!]” As Thorn threw back his head and howled, sound waves pulsed from him, covering the battlefield. For the briefest of seconds, Velin, watching from the wall, felt like she could see them spreading out from Thorn. The sound battered against Ouroboros, ringing in his head as the long howl grew in volume.

Distracted by the ever increasing waves of sound, it was as if he was being tossed around without knowing which way was up. Ouroboros shook his head and focused his attention on feeling his surroundings. The dirt and ash of the battlefield under his feet, the firm handle of his sword. With a low shout, he broke free of the stunning effect of Thorn’s ability and looked up, just in time to see Thorn’s mace flying toward his chest.

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Did you know that Book #2 and Book #3 are already finished? If you've enjoyed what you read and are interested in reading more, please consider supporting me at www.patreon.com/SethRing where you can read the rest of Book #2 and all of Book #3. You’ll even get advanced chapters from Book #4! Come explore the world of Nova Terra and help me determine where the story goes.

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About the author

WildCard

Bio: My name is Seth Ring and I am a writer. I create worlds and tell the stories of those who inhabit them. I love exploring these new worlds with other people. I post a chapter every Friday around 12 pm EST. To get advanced access to chapters you can support me on Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/SethRing.

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