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As each moment passed, Thorn could feel the force of Ouroboros’ devil form pressing down on him, eating away at his consciousness. The fact that he could still think at all was due to his unnatural resistance to mental effects, granted by his both his race and class. A quick glance back toward the wall showed that the others were not so lucky. The greater devil’s form carried a natural suppressive force that pulled those who encountered it into a passive state, making them unable to resist.

Thorn could feel that suppressive force clearly, and if he could not figure out a way to break it, he knew that it would only be a matter of time until he too fell into a stupor. His wounds seemed to respond to the aura, and the blood that had been trickling from them increased, winding its way in thin streams toward Ouroboros’ grotesque figure. Even gathering his thoughts was growing harder by the second, so Thorn decided to stop thinking.

“[Rallying Cry!]” A long howl poured from Thorn’s throat, echoing around the pass, the eerie tones bouncing from the stone of the citadel and reflecting from the Twins. On and on the call went, powered by Thorn’s seemingly endless breath. Elder Havva was the first to respond from where he stood, slumped over on the wall. Unconsciously, he struggled to straighten and, with a shuddering breath, lifted his head and joined in the long howl. Slowly, the other Dawn Walkers joined in, throwing back their heads to howl along with Thorn.

At first, the call was scattered, disorganized. Yet as it continued, it grew in strength and intensity, the varied voices combining into a single harmonious voice. As more and more Wolfkin joined in, the corrupting power of Karrandras began to collapse, eroding at the edges. The bloody scent that had dominated the battlefield began to clear, and those who had fallen under the natural stupor effect of the greater devil began to awaken.

“What? Impossible!” Ouroboros growled, droplets of acidic blood flying from his slavering maw as he spoke. Hate grew in his eyes as he stared at Thorn. All of his troubles stemmed from this giant figure in front of him, blocking his path. Determined to remove Thorn once and for all, he strode forward, lifting the blades on his arms to strike.

With a roar, the greater devil slashed at Thorn, intent on cutting him down where he stood. Thorn, seeing the blow approach, cut off his howl, sliding back on his feet and dropping naturally into his taijiquan stance. It felt like it had been a lifetime since he had used the martial arts that he had learned before coming into Nova Terra. His training had been largely useless due to the size difference between him and most enemies.

The greater devil form that Ouroboros had revealed was just as big as he was, making it a perfect target for him. Seeing another strike coming in, Thorn shifted his stance by sliding his foot back, moving just outside the range of the attack. Ouroboros, growing increasingly furious that he had missed both his attacks, rushed forward, his devil’s tail stabbing forward.

Thorn lifted his hands, holding his mace like a broadsword, deflecting against the barb on the end of the whipping tail, and bringing his feet together smoothly, stabbing forward with the end of the mace. Taken aback by the smoothness of Thorn’s transition from defense to offense, Ouroboros was unable to react in time and took the main force of the blow, staggering backwards. With a ferocious roar, the greater devil surged forward again.

“Your puny attacks cannot stop me, Thorn! This form is invincible!” Raving, Ouroboros rained down attacks on Thorn, slashing and gouging with the blades on his arms while his tail whipped this way and that, seeking every opportunity to stab forward.

Weathering the storm of attacks, Thorn felt as if he was a boat being tossed in a gale, threading through the waves and wind, ever in danger of capsizing, but somehow staying upright. At first his reactions were slightly jerky as his body tried to remember the forms and paths from his training. Despite the bloody gashes that began to appear on his body, Thorn persisted, emptying his mind of all distracting thoughts and focusing on the enemy in front of him.

Slowly, his moves began to become smoother, his reactions slightly faster. The transitions between his deflecting moves and his attacking strikes began to blur until they merged together, forming a weaving net of intermixed offense and defense with no distinction.

Ouroboros could feel control of the fight slipping from his clawed fingers as Thorn’s moves became smoother and smoother. Furious, he redoubled his efforts, striking with as much power as he could muster, yet his attacks were deflected to the side or redirected into empty space, wasting his strength. Each time he swung his blade Thorn seemed to be just out of reach, moving outside the range of motion of his attack. Just as he was about to explode with fury, Thorn’s smooth, slippery motions suddenly changed, and Ouroboros barely registered a silver blur before something hit him in the ribs, hard.

*CRACK*

With a sound so sharp it cut straight through the air, Thorn’s mace impacted the greater devil’s side, crushing the remnants of armor that floated in the bloody plasma that made up its body, sending it plunging to the ground.

Thorn had let himself go, clearing his mind to focus on the fight and allowing his muscle memory to guide him as he fought. Slowly, the years of training that he had drilled in before coming to Nova Terra had been unearthed, allowing him to keep himself from being overrun by Ouroboros’ greater devil form. As his movements had grown more natural, they had begun to unconsciously merge with the tetsubo training that Master Sun had put him through in the gorge of the earth elementals, combining defense and offense into one smooth action.

As he deflected the last attack, Thorn had instinctively felt an opening in his opponent’s defenses, and without hesitation, he had stepped forward, planting his feet solidly as he struck out, smashing his mace into the greater devil’s ribs, driving it into the ground. As soon as he connected, Thorn could tell through the feedback of his weapon that he had dealt significant damage.

Flipping the giant metal spike around, Thorn stabbed the pointed end down, putting his full weight behind the blow. The sharp spike pierced through Ouroboros, pinning him firmly to the ground, and eliciting a shriek of pain from the greater devil. His arms flailing, Ouroboros struggled to free himself, only to feel a massive weight clamp down on his body, forcing him farther into the ground.

Thorn, loath to give up the advantage he had seized, dropped a knee onto Ouroboros’ chest, pinning one of the greater devil’s arms to the ground with his other leg. The dwarven trainer from Berum’s words echoed in his head, and he began to throw fist after rock hard fist down at the greater devil’s head, battering it into an unrecognizable shape.

Each furious hit smashed into Ouroboros, sending blood flying, yet the greater devil simply regenerated, his head reforming after each strike. The whipping tail plunged toward Thorn’s back, stabbing into his shoulder. Roaring with pain, Thorn grabbed the spiked end of Ouroboros’ tail and, with a furious pull, ripped the talon right off, plunging it into the neck of the greater devil.

Ouroboros’ scream of pain turned into a gurgle as the barb pierced through his throat, and for the first time, he began to know fear. His furious attempts to dislodge Thorn from on top of him gained an edge of hysteria, yet no matter how he struggled, he could not move the figure on top of him. Thorn’s weight was like a mountain, sealing him to the ground. Again and again, Thorn smashed down, his strikes getting faster and faster, raining down blow after blow on the greater devil. The burning ember of fury that Thorn had been suppressing for so long suddenly burst forth, igniting into a raging flame.

Ever since the events in the dungeon, Thorn had been doing his best to keep a tight lid on his feelings, but now the dam had broken. All of the frustration and anger Thorn had bottled up inside poured out in a storm of strikes, imbuing his rock hard fists with even more power than normal.

Watching from near the wall, her eyes wide, Athena turned to look at Bluefire

“Don’t look at me. I didn’t teach him that.” The Society of Roses fighter shook her head and held up her hands. “I thought you said that he had a peaceful childhood? That doesn’t look very peaceful to me.”

“I…” Unsure what to say, Athena fell silent, watching as Thorn pummeled the greater devil into a pulp.

Soon the angry bellows of the greater devil were silenced, and the body below Thorn evaporated into shining particles of light. Utterly drained, he knelt on the battlefield, too tired to even move. As he gulped in air, he could hear Mina’s screams of excitement approaching. A warm golden light fell on him, removing the weariness from his limbs, healing his wounds.

*ding*

The Cursed Life and Death Contract - Winner

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.

You have won the trial of combat

Wager: Life and Death - Winner Takes All

Reward: You have gained the following items, abilities, and resources.

Items: [Nobility Upgrade Token], [Asha’s Vambrace], [Asha’s Boots], [Asha’s Grieves]

Abilities: [The Devil is in the Details], [Shadow Dash], [Language Proficiency: Abyssal], [Intercepting Strike]

Resources: [Legacy Deed: Imperial Mansion], [Legacy Deed: Imperial Mine] x2, [Legacy Deed: Imperial Town]

Alpha Challenge - Completed

A powerful threat to your pack has appeared. You have identified the enemy in front of you as particularly dangerous to your budding family. Per the ancient traditions, you are responsible for facing the challenger or appointing a champion to face the challenger.

You have succeeded, maintaining your position as Greymane.

You have gained the favor of Hati.

Greater devil defeated: You have gained the favor of Hati.


Thorn’s jaw nearly hit the floor when he looked at the rewards for defeating Ouroboros. He had expected to be rewarded well considering that he had bet practically everything he owned, but four items, four abilities, and four resources were out of his expectation. Especially when he started looking at their details.

First were the three pieces of named armor that Ouroboros had dropped. Each piece was part of the smooth black armor set that Ouroboros had been wearing. Never having seen a named item in his time playing Nova Terra, Thorn was curious as to what advantage they would have.

Asha’s Vambrace - Heavy Armor

The legendary holy warrior Asha fell to the darkness, becoming the champion of the Devil King Malros’Tharn. For countless years, he waged war against the forces of good, crushing them in direct combat thanks to his formidable hellplate armor.

Marked with the symbol of Malros’Tharn, Asha’s Vambraces grant the wearer increased physical strength as they kill their enemies.

Set Bonus:
[2 pieces]: +Constitution
[3 pieces]: [Devilish Aura]
[4 pieces]: +Constitution
[5 pieces]: [Summon Helfiend]
[6 pieces]: +Strength, +Constitution

Asha’s Boots - Heavy Armor

The legendary holy warrior Asha fell to the darkness, becoming the champion of the Devil King Malros’Tharn. For countless years, he waged war against the forces of good, crushing them in direct combat thanks to his formidable hellplate armor.

Marked with the symbol of Malros’Tharn, Asha’s Boots grant the wearer increased agility as they kill their enemies.

Set Bonus:
[2 pieces]: +Constitution
[3 pieces]: [Devilish Aura]
[4 pieces]: +Constitution
[5 pieces]: [Summon Helfiend]
[6 pieces]: +Strength, +Constitution

Asha’s Greaves - Heavy Armor

The legendary holy warrior Asha fell to the darkness, becoming the champion of the Devil King Malros’Tharn. For countless years, he waged war against the forces of good, crushing them in direct combat thanks to his formidable hellplate armor.

Marked with the symbol of Malros’Tharn, Asha’s Greaves grant the wearer increased endurance as they kill their enemies.

Set Bonus:
[2 pieces]: +Constitution
[3 pieces]: [Devilish Aura]
[4 pieces]: +Constitution
[5 pieces]: [Summon Helfiend]
[6 pieces]: +Strength, +Constitution


Immediately, Thorn could see how important having a named armor set was. Just the double increase in constitution that came with wearing four pieces was enough to give a player a huge advantage, to say nothing of the full six piece set bonus. Curious about the other two bonus abilities that the set gave, Thorn opened them up. The [Devilish Aura] added a fear effect to the player’s aura, while the [Summon Helfiend] could actually summon lesser Helfiends to the battlefield. Thankfully for Thorn, both only activated after killing an enemy, making them useless in the one on one fight that between Ouroboros and Thorn.

While the set would not fit him, Thorn instantly thought of his follower, Captain Del’har. Remembering the Wolfkin Captain’s lightning fast sword draw at the Wolfkin camp, Thorn could only imagine how strong the captain would be while using a set of named armor like this.

The other item that Ouroboros dropped was a simple, golden token. Rectangular in shape, the token was embossed with a castle and seven stars arranged in a half circle. The token was four inches tall, three inches wide and less than an inch thick. Despite its small size, Thorn found it surprisingly heavy, as if the game’s automatic weight reduction did not work on it.

Nobility Upgrade Token

Once controlling the entire continent of Angoril, the Holy Empire has fractured, splitting in two. Despite the split, these ancient tokens are still honored, granting an instant upgrade to a noble’s rank.

To apply this token to a title, it must be turned in at the administrative office of one of the existing empires.


The description for the token was brief, but Thorn could immediately see the immense value it held. In his study about the game, he had come to realize that the natives saw themselves as different from the immortal travelers who came from another world. This manifested itself in numerous ways, but one of the most obvious was the difficulty that players faced when trying to gain noble positions or raise their noble rank. Ouroboros must have planned to use this token to bypass that restriction.

His brow furrowing slightly, Thorn skipped over the abilities that he had gained and looked at the [Legacy Deeds] in the resource portion of the reward. As soon as he read through them, a clear picture of what Ouroboros had intended emerged, causing Thorn to chuckle. It was obvious how much effort Ouroboros had put into this plan, only to have Thorn benefit.

Legacy Deed: Imperial Mansion (Human)

Once controlling the entire continent of Angoril, the Holy Empire has fractured, splitting in two. Despite the split, these ancient deeds are still honored, granting the bearer control of an imperial asset.

This deed allows the bearer to select one property in the imperial city, as determined by the bearer’s noble rank.

To redeem this deed, please proceed to the administrative office of the human empire.

Legacy Deed: Imperial Mine x2 (Human)

Once controlling the entire continent of Angoril, the Holy Empire has fractured, splitting in two. Despite the split, these ancient deeds are still honored, granting the bearer control of an imperial asset.

This deed allows the bearer to select one mine and it’s surrounding area within the human empire, as determined by the bearer’s noble rank.

To redeem this deed, please proceed to the administrative office of the human empire.

Legacy Deed: Imperial Town (Human)

Once controlling the entire continent of Angoril, the Holy Empire has fractured, splitting in two. Despite the split, these ancient deeds are still honored, granting the bearer control of an imperial asset.

This deed allows the bearer to select one town and it’s surrounding area within the human empire, as determined by the bearer’s noble rank.

To redeem this deed, please proceed to the administrative office of the human empire.


Just like the [Nobility Upgrade Token] that Ouroboros had dropped, the four [Legacy Deed] papers that Thorn received would grant him official status in the eyes of the empire. Should Ouroboros have been able to control the valley, he could have applied for official noble status and then used the four [Legacy Deeds] and the [Nobility Upgrade Token] to instantly elevate his rank.

Yet now, all his hard work had come to naught, and instead it was Thorn who was benefiting. With a sigh, Thorn could only shake his head and wonder if the game had planned this.

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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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