“Oh, come on! I haven’t even gotten to use my class.” Gus annoyedly yelled as he dove forward, trying to grasp one of the wooden training swords.
Looking back up with sword in hand expecting the enemy to be right upon him, Gus was shocked at the sight.
One of the largest bandits had stopped, sword out to his side blocking the other four.
“Class?” The large bandit asked. “We are supposed to act as training instructors, yet you already having one of Majesty Will’s favors changes things.”
Gus looked up, confused, “Yeah, class. I’m a Questlord, whatever that means.”
“What are you doing allowing your opponents time to regroup? Attack! This is supposed to be grueling!” The tree yelled at the five bandits.
“What do you need to activate your skill? I assume it isn't battle focused or you would not have complained. A few have already come with favors and none appeared disheartened by battle,” responded the tall bandit, ignoring the tree.
After filling the large bandit in on the requirements of Gus’ skill the bandit asked another question. “Does it have to be an animal, or will a plant do?”
Gus checked his screen again, reading over it. “Just says it needs to be organic.”
The largest bandit walked over to the tree on the side of the room, reaching a hand up and breaking off a large branch from the plant. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERO?! Attacking your own teacher?! TREASON!”
“Oh shut up Elder Thorne, I’ve already died twice in the other rooms. The least you can do is give up a branch.” Responded the large bandit, Hero.
Walking over and giving the branch to Gus. “Do it. A Hero should fight their opponents only at their strongest!”
Gus looked up at the large bandit, his eyes wide and a blushing smile on his face. Never had the young man seen such a warrior of honor and virtue, he had seen them in games or in movies and always scoffed at the honorable knight cliche’.
Now he understood, the kindness shown wasn’t weakness, it was self-confidence that even if Gus were at full power, this Hero thinks, no, knows inside that he will triumph.
There was a power in that that Gus wanted. “A-Alright. Uhm, now it says I need to burn it?”
Billy Joe walked up to him with a lighter. “Here, use this.” After getting a few side glances from the rest of the group, “what? It’s not like I use it for tobacco.”
Gus took the lighter, pressing the flame to the end of the tree. It wasn’t wet like a living one, or a fresh branch even, the tree was stone dry. The dead wood caught flame easily and a loud ‘Caaaaaw’ could be heard by everyone in the room, silencing even the complaining Elder Thorne.
Another two-dimensional scroll flickered to life in front of Gus’ vision.
Cardinal Phoenix of the Emerald Flame.
A Perversion of the three prime species of Phoenix native to the world before the sundering. The Phoenix is a symbol of rebirth and ironically enough the High Elven Empire. Normally coming in the colors of red, orange, or blue, the Emerald Flame is a creation brought about by the renaissance of magic.
Combined with the powers of its predecessors to be reborn from its own ashes as well as total command of all fire making up its form; the Emerald Flame it is made up of channels the magical effects of Life and Death instead of natural flame.
This is an Eldritch Being.
As one of the first ten Eldritch Beings to be introduced into the world it will be given an upgraded hidden ability.
Gus had a large smile on his face as he stared up at Hero. The nearly two feet tall bird perched on the high elf’s shoulder. Green flame enveloping the young man, shaping into a long cape of fire. As he held his hand aloft, a large flaming saber appeared in Gus’ hand, gauntleted by the Emerald Flame.
“Now THIS is a class!” Gus yelled happily, laughing and dancing embarrassingly on the spot.
Billy Joe let out a long drawn-out whistle, “I gotta agree with you there.”
Hero stood there, his mouth slightly ajar as Jamie, Billy Joe, Ned, and Mark all took practice swords from the weapons rack.
“Are we ready?” Elder Thorne impatiently asked from the sidelines.
“I… I think so.” Hero said, chuckling to himself as he did.
“Ready, then threetwoone, GO!” The tree blurted out quickly.
The four Bandits behind Hero rushed forward, the first slamming his blunt wooden weapon against Billy Joe’s arm. The Fomorian smiled, her red eye glowing brighter and brighter. The Bandit looked confused, in the other fifteen battles happening right now, every single time this move had broken the bone of whoever blocked it with a bare arm.
“O-Over Two Thousglk…” Looking to the corner of his vision he let out a loud cry just as a large black blade jutted out of his mouth. Billie Joe’s eye sizzling lightly as she covered it with her right hand. The bandit's body almost immediately began dissipating in small motes of light.
“Egh! That stings, I think I used too much power anyway.” She looked at the corpse on the floor a weird whitish light surrounding it, but paying no mind to the dead body, she continued her fight. After all, dead bodies were nothing new to Billy Joe.
Ned, upon seeing this immediate dispatch of life promptly doubled over, cupping his mouth and clutching his stomach. “Wh.. what!?”
Jamie rushed forward, sword in hand. Bringing the weapon down against another wooden sword they clacked together loudly. They pushed hard, trying to force the smallest Bandit back, but no matter how much Jamie pushed the woman would not budge.
Mark, coming around with a wooden sword to the back of the Bandit’s head, winked at Jamie in thanks.
Mark and Jamie tag-teamed the singular bandit. A solid smack to the arm, a surprise attack from behind, truthfully the person wasn’t all that strong to begin with as both Mark and Jamie had her disarmed and unconscious in under fifteen seconds.
The odd part of which being, the woman fell unconscious, surrounded by a white light after Mark had slammed into her arm with a particularly brutal strike with his wooden sword.
Gus however, was having a much different time. Not only had Hero walked slowly up to him, two of the Smaller bandits flanked him to his right and left.
Large red bars had appeared over each of the bandits heads. Gus could see Hero’s health, 150/150. The rest had an even hundred each.
Gus let out a slow chuckle, deciding that when out-numbered like this he’d better go big or go home. It was time… for some grandstanding.
“Come at me! I’ll take you all on, I’d bet that not a single one of you can get past me to my back-line.” Gus said loudly enough for Billy Joe to hear.
The Fomorian woman pulled back the large bow she had kept from the other room. All she had were arrows with heavy weights on the end of them. Only three had been sharp enough to pierce the target in the other room and those had evaporated as she had stepped through the door. Embuing Mana into the weapon it hummed as she unknowingly overcharged it.
With Billie Joe eyeing them perfectly she loosed an arrow, slamming into the far-right bandit’s side, causing him to double over.
Gus smiled wide as he saw the health go down on the bandit… 64/100.
“Keep that up!” He called from the front, grasping his flaming sword with both hands he stepped forward. “You know, you probably shouldn’t have told my friend and me that you’ve already died a few times. That means we don’t have to hold back, isn’t that right?”
Hero stepped forward calmly, readying his massive sword like a batter at home base. “That wasn’t an accident.”
The giant of a bandit swung his gigantic blade, while it wasn’t graceful or pretty, there was an air of polish to it. Gus tried to block with his sword, but his own fickle nature had left him enough room to duck if need be.
That need would indeed be as the massive sword sailed harmlessly through Gus’ sword of Emerald Fire.
Gus, growling and cursing as he rolled on the floor from his last-minute dodge looked up at the tall man, pulling his sword back for another strike.
Gus took the advantage this time, growing up around the neighborhood kids, a scrap up was always likely. Using the skills he had gained from childhood he turned his rise from the ground into a dash forward. His sword, swinging out with almost whiplike speed.
Hero had enough time to re-adjust his stance, using his near door-sized sword to block the attack.
Gus stepped back from the smoking sword as the bandit on the far left stepped in front of Hero. Hearing a victorious yell from behind Gus, he just knew that the other bandit had slipped behind him and had quickly been dispatched by that amazonian of a woman.
The Emerald Phoenix launched itself from Gus’ shoulder, slamming into the wooden blade that the bandit tried to sink into its master’s side. The wooden implement turned into a sickly dark green and the smell became horrid as years of rot was sped up to seconds of real-time.
After being caught in the attack, the woman’s arm fell to her side, bubbling and hissing noises coming from it as her health ticked down slowly, a point a second...78/100…
Gus charged forward, not letting his assailant escape, Bringing his sword to bear he brought it down in a vertical swipe cleaving her from collar bone to thigh… Or he would have if it made any physical damage evident. Instead, the woman shuddered…2/100…
She collapsed in front of Gus without a wound on her body, health ticking down two more times until her breathing stopped. A white aura appearing over her body as well.
Hero raised his sword again, ready to swing at Gus. While the high elf was distracted the large bandit had gotten into the perfect stance. Now that his final compatriot was out of the damage radius he gripped his handle with both hands and swung.
Gus had no time to react as the massive door of force whooshed towards him. Ready to be knocked out or hurt, Gus was instead pelted by a powerful gust of wind.
Behind Hero lay half of his massive wooden sword, corroded right down the middle where Gus had both blocked and struck earlier. Hero just smiled at the young warrior and stuck up both hands. “Okay, I surrender.”
Billy Joe and Gus sat down immediately on the soft grass in the room. No one in the group really cared enough about knowing how grass or a fake sky with fake sun shone on the cave roof.
Ned was shaking, behind held by Mark gently, patting the thin boy’s head. “Shhhh, see, no one’s in a huff, Gus was right, this was the plan all along.”
Looking around the room, Ned was confused, there had been bodies strewn about just a second ago. Now, the room was empty, save his group, Hero, and Elder Thorne.
“Wh-wha?” Ned mumbled
Hero smiled, pointing to where the bandit on his left had died. “Look.”
Ned and everyone else in the room looked closely at the area. The air was a little foggy so it was hard to see, nothing was in the fog.
“I don’t see anything. Too foggy.” Gus said aloud.
“I know, but is this room wet or damp in any way?” Hero said, a grin on his face.
The foggy spot in the room moved around, darting back and forth, and then someone said it.
“A Spirit?” The words came from Billy Joe’s mouth.
Hero shrugged, “kind of. That’s a bit of an after-image. I don’t know how Majesty does it, but right now I’m fighting in twelve other battles, nearly all of which I started before our fight.” Gus looked confused but Jamie brightened in turn.
“So, you’re saying you’re piloting mobs? That this dungeon is INSTANCED?!” Jamie said with an incredulous voice and the smile of a madperson.
Hero nodded while Ned spoke up again, “Instanced? Why’s that important. Most dungeons are instance based nowadays.”
Jamie shook their head, “And where, pray-tell do you go to enter those dungeons? Name one.”
“The kingdom of Nevermore, In Ravencre… Oh… This isn’t a game.” The information donned on Ned finally.
Hero pointed to the chest at the back of the room. “We’ll get our bodies back… wait no, that isn’t right, just don’t think about it too much. Majesty tried to explain what was going on but after awhile I just tuned them out, the details tend to be a bit boring.”
The group of five hesitantly walked to the back of the room. Ned was still shaking but after seeing the somewhat proof it had calmed down quite a bit.
However, seeing a gigantic spike of darkness just out of someone’s mouth however was something Ned doubted he could ever forget.
Opening the chest, two monocles, a pair of gauntlets made of a stretchy material, and a small dagger were inside.
Stashing them in a sack, for now, the five of them decided it was better for them to continue on with their dungeon crawl.
Stepping through the wooden door the third room was entirely different. Half of the room appeared to be a sandy beach; this was the half the group had stepped in on.
On the other side of the room, however, was entirely water, splashing around like the tide of an ocean. Instead of a fake sky this time the room was lit by a small green light bulb in the middle of the ceiling swaying back and forth with timed precision.
Ten large lobsters were in the middle of the room, sitting just in the part of the sand so that water would rush over them every time the tide washed back in. A woman on the left side of the shore was preparing some sort of grill, she had tongs, multiple plates, and several coolers filled with neon-colored drinks.
“Oh hello you adventurers!” The woman said with a thick Wisconsin accent. “Welcome to the trial of the Crusticakes. Don’t you fret none about them. They’re the more dim of the students, they need a few times through the old reincarnation before they’re smart enough to do much else than attack anything that gets near em.”
Billy Joe walked forward, confused. “What do you mean?”
The woman in the corner smiled, continuing on in her own thick accent. “Well, in this trial you’ll be against the mindless ones… whooooo spooky right? Anyway, you’ll need to clear enough out for you to wade through the water to the door on the other side. And, since we want you to actually you know…”
The curly-haired blond woman brought a finger against her throat “kllllclk, dontcha know? Well, I as their teacher thought it’d be great to reward you all with how many you help me ‘teach’ today!”
Mark walked forward, ringing his massive fist high and slamming it into one of the lobsters, the crustacean didn’t even flinch. It countered by bringing up its much larger than average pincer and grabbing ahold of the Orc’s arm.
“That didn’t even do five points of damage, you have to try harder!” Gus called from behind.
“Points? What do you mean points? I don’t see any points.” Mark called back
The woman in the corner spoke up again, “Oh, you need to be blessed by Majesty or have on of their little glass disks to see health. Majesty says they’re still testing the system and everything but the other Teachers and I think it’s perfect already.
“Oh, Dungeoneer’s glass? Will showed me these before. They let you identify items and other things that are magic.” Jamie said, “pull out the monocles!”
“Wait, you can’t already do that?” Billy Joe asked.