Holy shit was right. There were bodies all over the place. And by bodies I really meant there were bits and pieces of bodies that’d been tossed everywhere as a result of my improvised explosive gems and the spellcannons.
The result was a charnel house of dead players. There were still a couple who were moaning and rocking back and forth holding nasty wounds that looked like they would rapidly deplete their hit points, but for the most part everyone in the Horizon Dawn emergency response team who’d managed to get on site fast enough to fight off the raid had been killed.
I stared down as they all started to decompose, and I figured that meant it was time to move fast.
"Let's go!" I said.
"What are you doing?" Keia asked, her voice taking on a long-suffering tone that said she thought I was about to do something very stupid. Which was entirely possible, but it was a chance I had to take.
"That's a large group of Horizon players and we're not going to pass up this opportunity to relieve them of their stuff!" I said.
I bolted back through the mine with my goblins in tow. Though at a glance from Keia I fell back just a bit and let them lead the way. I was well aware that it was possible Horizon Dawn might’ve set up some sort of trap for me, so I stayed back. Which got an approving nod from Keia even if she did seem a little annoyed that we were going down to steal a bunch of Horizon stuff.
"This is a risk," she said. "And if they manage to capture us…"
“We’re not going to let that happen,” I said. “Send in your strike team Kristoph.”
"What?" Kristoph said. "What the hell am I supposed to do with my strike team? They make me nervous. Creepy little guys with their knives."
There was some muttering on the other side, and I thought I heard Kristoph talking to someone and telling the little goblin he didn't mean it personally. Which probably meant he was doing damage control with those creepy knife-wielding goblins and trying not to insult them any more than he already had, lest he find himself falling victim to those knives.
After seeing how the goblins worked on this raid I could sympathize with someone who didn’t want to wind up on the wrong end of those goblin knives.
“Kill anyone still alive down there," I said.
"Bloodthirsty much?" Kristoph asked.
"I'm just getting started," I said. "Once you've killed all the bastards still alive down there at the entrance you're going to make your way to the local graveyard and kill anyone that shows up without their equipment. Got it?"
"Got it," Kristoph said. "Looks like I'm going to get to level up my combat skills again!"
I looked at Keia. She smiled a little smile and shrugged.
"I still think you're taking stupid risks," she said. "But at least you're being smart about your stupid risks."
"Thanks, I think?" I said.
"Don't mention it," she said. “Though you still have to contend with Horizon Dawn people who log in. They’re gonna be logging in fresh, and they could put a serious cramp in your plans for murder and mayhem.”
“Maybe they could,” I said. “We’re going to have to hope the element of surprise coupled with a zerg of goblins will be enough to overwhelm them before they have a chance to cause any serious trouble.”
We streamed out of the mine and dashed towards the big entrance. It was a massive affair with gates that’d been thrown wide open. Why would they need gates that were closed when they controlled everything? Who would be stupid enough to threaten their territory? Who would have enough forces to threaten their territory, for that matter?
Yeah, Horizon Dawn had gotten really fat and lazy in their attempt to take over this region of the game, and I was going to show them what it meant to fuck with me. What it meant to fuck with the goblins, for that matter. Mostly the goblins, considering they were the ones gleefully butchering anyone from Horizon Dawn stupid enough to come on the scene, but I liked to think I had more than a little bit to do with this considering I was the one who came up with the plan to murder their asses.
My only regret was that I wasn't going to get to see the look on Torian’s stupid face when he realized his precious raid dungeon he thought he had on lockdown had fallen victim to a massive smash and grab. Something told me there wasn’t anyone out there in the game world audacious enough, and stupid enough if I was having a moment of total honesty, to pull something like this against any other Horizon holdings.
"We’re adding a final part to the plan for tonight," I shouted to my army. "I need everyone to grab everything they can and toss it in their inventory.”
My goblin raiding party looked at me perplexed. Right. We were having a lost in translation moment between what I would tell them to do if the game world was the real world versus what they actually had to do with the game’s mechanics.
"Grab everything from the little chests!" I said, pointing to the field of chests dotting the space between the two massiv gates. Everyone’s bodies had dissolved at this point. Even the bodies belonging to the people who’d survived the initial explosions. Unfortunately for them and fortunately for me the goblins had taken care of anyone who’d survived both the cannons and the improvised exploding gems.
I heard screams in the distance that told me one part of Kristoph’s raid group was also busy over at the graveyard teaching Horizon Dawn a lesson about fucking with the goblins. I grinned. I probably shouldn’t have been so happy at the sound of people being tortured, but I also had difficulty giving much of a fuck that they were suffering if they were wearing a Horizon tabard.
Maybe that made me an asshole, but they started it.
The goblins nodded in understanding at my in-game explanation, I was talking in a language they got, and went to work grabbing anything and everything they could find.
It was the final crowning achievement of my raid, and a flourish I never would’ve thought to add until Horizon was nice enough to bunch up and present me with a convenient target. Again.
A couple of Horizon Dawn people did log in while the goblins were busy gathering items, and their solo attempts at pushing the goblin raid away went about as well as I’d imagined when Keia voiced her worries about Horizon people logging in piecemeal. No sooner did they appear and look around than they were swarmed by goblins hacking them to pieces with those nasty long knives that doubled as swords.
Their screams weren’t exactly pleasant, but they didn’t interrupt the goblins as they went to their new gathering task with gusto. In a moment everyone had loaded up, and there was enough capacity that there weren’t any chests left over. Now there was a pleasant surprise. I was going to have a shitload of Horizon gear to sift through when this was all said and done.
Best case scenario some of those Horizon pricks would have new spell infusions I hadn’t been able to create all by me onesies yet. Worst case scenario was I got to sell their gear on the Auction House at a substantial discount and really piss them off.
In the meantime there was still the occasional scream as people from Horizon Dawn reached the graveyard and found themselves not only facing down a goblin raid, but facing down that army while they had no armor or weapons of their own to defend themselves. It was a slaughter in every sense of the word.
It was a nice little bit of revenge for the goblins. And from the way they were attacking the Horizon Dawn people with relish I figured they were in total agreement on that score.
Eventually everything was done. Or at least it was as done as it was going to be. For all the success we’d had, I was well aware that the success was fleeting. There was enough light to see by without magic orbs floating in front of us now, and that meant it was only a matter of time before the sun peeked out from over the horizon.
A look at my in-game clock told me it wouldn’t be too terribly long before the sun was coming up on the east coast of the United States as well. Which meant it was only a matter of time before we started getting more people from Horizon Dawn logging in to defend this place.
“We need to get the hell out of here,” I said.
“Are you sure about that?” Rezzik asked.
Rezzik looked to the mine entrance. To the quarry, and more specifically to a massive dark hole on the other side of that quarry that was presumably the entrance to the raid dungeon. It was a good distance away, the quarry was massive and would’ve been peppered with nasty monsters if Horizon Dawn wasn’t around constantly clearing the place, and the dungeon entrance was a gaping maw that opened into darkness. The goblin king was deep in there, shoring up his forces and getting ready for whatever the next assault would be from Horizon Dawn.
We could go in there now, but I was pretty sure it wouldn’t do a damn bit of good.
“We can’t do that now,” I said. “We need to be smart about trying to rescue your king.”
“Why not?” another goblin, one who looked similar to the goblins who’d escorted us down into the goblin city, said.
Though I couldn’t be too sure. I was getting better at telling goblins apart, but it was still a little difficult. I wasn’t sure if that was because the art team had been lazy in coming up with designs for the goblin faces, or if it was a matter of me simply not knowing them well enough yet to be able to tell them apart yet.
Probably a little of column A, and a little of column B.
“You guys have done great work tonight,” I said, turning to face all the goblins who’d gathered around me and looked like they were ready to take the fight all the way to their king.
I hadn’t anticipated this, and it could be a serious problem. I knew with a deep certainty that if we went into that mine tonight we would be dead soon enough. Well, the goblins would be dead. Me, Kristoph, and Keia would be captured by Horizon Dawn and tortured, which wasn’t my idea of a good time thank you very much. I had to stop them before their bloodlust, and the fleeting success we had here tonight, had them doing something stupid.
Who knew a raid that’d been successful beyond my wildest dreams would only cause more trouble?
“We’ve grabbed more goblinsteel ore than I could’ve hoped for tonight, and we’ve killed more Horizon Dawn people than I ever would’ve imagined!”
That was good for a cheer from the goblins. It was good to know they were getting just as worked up over what they were doing here tonight as I was. Still, that didn’t change the fact that we had to get the hell out of here, and I had to figure out a way to present that pesky fact to them while at the same time still keeping them pumped about what they’d done here tonight so they’d be just as willing to go along the next time we had to take the fight to Horizon Dawn.
“The thing is we can’t stand up to Horizon Dawn if they hit us in force,” I said, grasping for an explanation they’d understand. “There are travelers who have equipment they’ve forged with the help of their gods, and if they come down on us with those weapons now we could lose everything. We need to forge weapons of our own to fight them, and then we need to come back and teach them what it means to fight goblinkind!”
That was good for another cheer. And if it wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as the last one where I talked about killing Horizon Dawn, at least it was still a cheer. At least they were still excited about what they were doing here. And it didn’t look like they were going to fight me on beating a strategic retreat instead of going into that dungeon where they’d no doubt get killed by whatever raid Torian set up to avenge this raid.
“Now come on!” I said. “We need to get back to the Kthonopolis so we can get started putting this stuff to use!”
There was yet another cheer, though my train of thought was interrupted as I saw movement in the forest nearby. I turned and saw Horizon Dawn people stumbling through that forest looking confused, Torion right at the head of that group, and my mouth turned up in a smile that I hoped looked suitably cruel as they looked at the goblins and saw their death.
“And if you happen to kill some Horizon Dawn assholes while we’re on the way? Well let’s do it!”
That was good for another cheer, and the goblins broke and headed for the forest. The poor Horizon Dawn bastards who’d been making their way through the forest, probably in the hopes they’d be ignored, went wide-eyed and cried out as they turned and tried to run. I noted with some satisfaction that Torion was one of the first to turn and head for the trees. I guess tonight he was the coward in chief.
Their retreat wasn’t going to work though. For all that the players had gotten used to the game world, it was still very much the goblins’ world. They knew this forest and had the memories of living in this place even if those memories were recent creations.
“Run away!” someone shouted from the forest, but it was too late. The sound of people crashing through the trees was quickly replaced with the screams and gurgles of people who found themselves being confronted by a bunch of psychotic goblins with knives doing their best to end them as slowly and painfully as possible. I couldn’t be sure, but I thought I heard Torion screaming “not again!” from somewhere in the trees.
“Good work tonight,” Rezzik said, spitting on the ground to let the world know what he thought of the Horizon Dawn people who were getting their asses handed to them in the trees. “Really good work.”
“Thank you,” I said.
Maybe I wasn’t leveling up your traditional combat classes, but I figured I was doing something right if I was getting the goblins on my side like this.
“Come on,” I said to Rezzik. “We’ve got some work to do getting everything set up. We need to pull those cannons back to the caves and see about getting them mounted on the new airship fleet we’re about to put together!”
Hi! I'm a working writer who's been doing this full time since early 2015. I got my start in the Kindle romance boom, and I'm finally getting around to publishing stories under my own name!
I live in the Midwest with my wife, kids, and cats. Most days find me sitting in front of my computer typing out stories for your enjoyment!
I'm currently releasing Spellcraft. The tale of Conlan, a gamer who loves finding ways to exploit game systems, and how he uses those unique skills to battle a soulless multinational entertainment conglomerate who killed his sister and is trying to take over the gaming world!
Spellcraft is currently released on a chapter a day schedule.
I hope you enjoy my work. Thanks for reading!