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A note from James Northman

Hi Everyone, 

Sorry for the delay in posting on Royal Road. I've just been getting my University work done and thankfully, my course ends at the end of March. I'll be able to focus more on writing. My Friday schedule has kinda gone out the window as I now only really get to write during the weekends. Thank you all for your patience and lovely comments. Some great new reviews too, which is great! 

I did a Patreon Poll to find out what Chapter people wanted next, and the answer was Greaves' Interview on the Samantha show. Which has just gone live! You can find a link to it at the end of the Chapter. 

James

Jorgen didn't even look back at the Sky Palace as he made his way towards Rayth. He knew Viktor would probably go insane, but none of that mattered right now.

Countless notifications kept popping up in front of him, telling him he was failing several quests and that his reputation was currently plummeting because of his selfish actions.

When Viktor approached him to play in Abidden, he had been ecstatic to fight against the Paragons and expose them for the frauds they were. The last decade of watching their smug expressions had been torturous, especially since the Scumlords had beaten them.

Travesty never appeared as a Paragon, and he was the only one that had defeated Jorgen. A decade long question had been hammering around in Jorgen's head.

Was it a fluke?

He could now find out if Travesty truly was a skilled player... and that answer was worth getting a slap on the wrists for abandoning a few quests.

His wings billowed powerfully over the waves as he flew at high speed towards the map marker. The surrounding area was unfamiliar, but incredibly beautiful. Lush forests to his left with open stretches of beach along the edge of the water. What he had previously thought was an ocean turned out to be a large river with azure waters. Jorgen couldn't tell if it was a trick of the sunlight, but the surface of the water had a magical sparkle.

You have discovered the Mana Lake

Jorgen had to admit that the game was beautiful. In all of his years playing in virtual reality games, Abidden was by far the most visually appealing. He wondered if that was because they had so few players in the game or if it was something else.

As he continued to fly towards his destination, he saw movement out of the corner of his eye. It was a group of fishers in a boat waving their arms to get his attention.

You have discovered a new Quest!

Jorgen veered away from the fishing boat, finding himself getting irritated by the mechanics of this game. When Viktor and the analysts had said he would need to assemble a group of companions, Jorgen had been skeptical. Whilst he knew the importance of a team, he didn't much care for all the quests associated with keeping people happy. Reputation gains didn't matter to the Scumlord, nor did Class quests appeal either. He just wanted to find a weapon and a target. That's what gaming is all about, not bullshit storylines where he has to protect a church from a Villain.

Shaking his head in frustration, Jorgen kept his eyes locked in front of him to ensure he didn't accidentally discover anymore useless quests on his way to Rayth. Countless thoughts were rushing through his head as he got closer and closer to his destination.

Why didn't Travesty become a Paragon? Did his team oust him so they could join Abidden? Did the Paragons have a hand in making him an E-Classer?

You have abandoned the Quest: Fight for Lameria

Jorgen couldn't help but snort derisively. Protecting NPC's from Helena couldn't have been further down his list of priorities...

A frown appeared on his face as he saw an immense wall blocking his path. It looked so out of place as it rose straight up from the clear waters of the Mana Lake. Yet, for all the beauty that the lake possessed, the wall looked positively menacing in its construction. Before he could even approach the wall, a burst of lightning shot over his shoulder.

Glancing up at where the attack came from, Jorgen could see a small army of... Elves?

The Elves from the Tower of Magnus are warning you to stay back!

Jorgen's expression turned stony as he read the notification that popped up in front of him.

The thing he hated most about this game was how it kept attempting to push him in certain directions.

For a game that was apparently offering endless choices, it kept deciding for him.

Glancing to the west, Jorgen saw that the sun was close to setting.

Turning his head back towards the Elves, Jorgen drew his bow and raised it into the air with a roar.

"Blessing of the Light!"


James darted forward between the littered corpses, not pausing as he vaulted over body after body. Behind him were a squad of ranged Dread Faction combatants, readying themselves for the battle to come.

In the distance, Shari materialised with a smirk on her face, nodding at James before melting into the darkness once more.

Her kill-team had slaughtered the gun deck with relative ease... assassinating the unsuspecting gunners focused on the Void Kraken. Their dying throes drowned out by the roaring waves and accompanied cannon fire.

James returned a nod of understanding to the darkness, in case Shari was still watching him for a reaction. His feet came to a halt as he reached the farthest cannon available. If he had to guess, he would imagine that he was closest to the front of the ship.

Glancing down, the Dread Pirate couldn't help but marvel at the intricate carvings on the cannon. He had hoped they would be high quality, but the reality had far outweighed his expectations.

Tempest's Gambit (Unique Cannon)

  • 1,000 Blunt Damage
  • 40% Chance of Dazing Target

James paused as he looked at the grade of the cannon.

"You can't be serious..."

He muttered to himself as he stepped over to the next available cannon beside it. Before he could even reach out to touch it, a notification popped up to confirm his suspicions.

Tempest's Fate (Master Cannon)

  • 750 Piercing Damage
  • 25% Chance to cause Bleeding

Taking a step back, James whipped his head around to address his men.

"Everyone identify their cannon! Raise your right hand if it's Master rank and left hand if it's Unique."

Your Command was successful!

Command has levelled up!

Successful commands will produce a stronger Buff for your Followers.

Buff Applied: Teamwork (Active)

Followers with Teamwork will work more efficiently together and will occasionally activate a team-up ability.

Immediately, most of the rangers and duelists raised a hand, but a few of them were looking back at him in confusion. One of them let out a surprised gasp.

"What did you find?"

James darted over to the man that had gasped. In front of him was a cannon that looked identical to the rest, and James wasted no time in identifying it.

He couldn't help but mirror the reaction as a notification popped up in front of him.

Tempest's Lance (Legendary Cannon)

  • 2,500 Piercing Damage
  • 15% Chance to Shoot Lightning

"Yeah, this one is mine!"

James gestured for everyone else to get into position.

"Highest Dexterity and Aim attributes should take the highest grade cannons."

Crouching down to one knee, James gripped the sides of the cannon and looked through the hatch ahead. Before he could react, a salvo of cannons fired directly below them, which told him that Shari and her team had gone from the second gun deck up to the first. The third which was below him was still alive and firing.

Floating ominously at the centre of the Maelstrom was the Void Kraken. Its gigantic yellow tentacles weaved back and forth menacingly, daring the Tempest to move closer and meet its fate. Below the surface of the water, it was using its other arms to maintain the vortex, hoping to pull the ship back into the depths of the Dread Lake.

"Aim for the tentacles as they approach, if you can't hit them, aim for the head!"

James roared as he willed the cannon to fire.

A thunderous blast echoed out from the Dread Pirate's cannon as a bolt of lightning shot through the sky and struck a looming tentacle. Unlike the standard cannon fire, this attack made an explosive impact on the Void Kraken... knocking the tentacle back so much that it flopped uselessly in the water.

Tempest's Lance is now on Cooldown. It will be reusable in 20 seconds.

The reaction was instant. A deafening cheer erupted from the lower and upper decks as they witnessed the temporary fall of a single tentacle.

Before their shouts could die out, a salvo from the Dread Faction's ranged specialists exploded in unison.

James had yet to witness their individual strengths, but whatever he had expected... the followers of the Dexterity God still surprised him.

Cannon balls smashed into each of the outstretched tentacles, all of them connecting and increasing the damage dealt. As James watched his cooldown decrease, he heard the Master Cannons firing again, followed seconds later by the Unique Cannons.

An infuriated shriek escaped the Void Kraken as it thrashed its still mobile tentacles in a full-frontal assault. Two enormous tentacles disappeared from sight before teleporting dangerously close to the ship, preparing to slam down against the top deck.

James didn't even hesitate as he gripped his almost ready cannon.

"Quickdraw!"

Quickdraw is incompatible with Tempest's Lance.

James ignored the notification as he watched the cooldown timer finally reach zero.

"Crackshot!"

The result of skill was both instantaneous and dramatic, piercing a hole through the looming tentacle and continuing to soar far into the sky beyond. The Void Kraken, finally wounded, flinched in pain as it withdrew the injured tentacle. The other limbs paused in their attacks as if waiting to see if there would be a follow-up attack, which James was more than happy to deliver to them.

"FIRE!"

Half a second after the word left his throat, a roaring salvo erupted from the starboard side of the Tempest. The cannonballs screamed across the jagged waters of the maelstrom as they closed in on their target. The Void Kraken whipped up two tentacles to block the attacks that were on route to its main body, which didn't escape James' notice. Seconds passed as James waited for his cannon to complete its cooldown. His eye remained locked on the moving body of the Kraken, looking for any semblance of a pattern.

In the last two seconds, a notification popped up that he hadn't been expecting at all.

Quest Updated: Breaking the Wall

He didn't dismiss it immediately, but he didn't open it either. James instead looked at it for a moment before finally hiding it from view. He couldn't afford to get distracted at the moment, but he couldn't help but wonder if the other leaders in Rayth had started their attack on the wall. With Shari being able to ignore instructions and act on her own free will, it showed James that the new Vendetta system really allowed the non-playable-characters full autonomy within the game. Alternatively, it could be Elvira acting as the Plague Doctor? That was another thought that struck James. He really should have spared more time to learn about her character, but there was no use in thinking about that now. He had spent altogether too much time thinking about the strategy and his plan, he just needed to put things in motion and get on with it.

The countdown timer hit zero, and James was about to fire it when he noticed a slight change in the Void Kraken's behaviour. Instead of firing, James watched the massive creature move around in the Maelstrom. Something felt off.

James' eye darted between the tentacles, counting them one by one.

"BRACE YOURSELVES!"

The Dread Pirate roared as he pulled the base of his cannon upward, aiming it straight down into the murky waters below. Each of the Dread Faction members held tight to the cannons and surrounding fixtures at James' command, many of them looking at him in confusion as they instinctively reacted to his orders. As James' Legendary cannon fired alone, it slammed into the surface of the waves and confirmed his suspicions. As the water jetted up to the sides from the explosive blast, it revealed the hidden tentacle of the Void Kraken.

"HOLD!"

James shouted again, waiting for the eventual attack to connect. The Void Kraken truly was a Legendary creature, it was adapting its attacks to avoid getting hit. But for it to attempt a sneak attack amid battle? That made it all the more terrifying.

When no attack came, and the tentacle didn't emerge from the water, James frowned... why would it send a tentacle under the ship, if not to attack it from below?

As soon as the thought came to him, a sense of dread washed over him.

"You've got to be kidding..."

James muttered as he got to his feet and darted to the port side of the ship, to confirm his suspicions.

Just as he had feared, the tentacle had flanked the ship completely as it emerged on the other side, poised to attack.

Glancing around him at the array of cannons, James grinned. He wondered if he had just found an effective way to avoid the cooldown timers.

His hands gripped the closest cannon, and he completely ignored the notifications. He didn't have the time to read. The cannon fired and contacted the looming tentacle, but the limb didn't falter in the slightest. James darted to the next cannon to his left and fired again in delight. It turned out that they attached the cooldowns to the items instead of the actions. When he noticed that the only noise being generated from the gun deck was from his actions, he realised his followers were following his orders to the letter.

"Resume fire!"

James shouted without looking back. He also ignored the notifications that popped up as he moved from cannon to cannon, firing each one at the tentacle. It was maybe on the fourth cannon that he recalled how he had dramatically damaged the tentacle last time.

"Crackshot!"

He didn't need to shout out the name of the skills for them to activate, but the high octane energy from the battle was feeding his excitement.

Like before, the attack pierced the yellow tentacle, but didn't cause a dramatic amount of damage, which James attributed to the random cannon he had just used. Instead of crashing back into the depths as the previously injured tentacle, the Void Kraken persevered through the cannon fire and slammed the tentacle against the ship.

"Everyone that had a Master cannon, get over to this side and start firing!"

James shouted his next command. Since there was only a single tentacle as an opponent, it made sense to take the weakest offensive force from the starboard side. This way, he'd be able to equip his followers with Unique cannons on both sides of the ship. It would hopefully dissuade the Void Kraken from repeating this type of attack again.

As several followers swarmed to join him on the port-side of the ship, James took a step back to appraise the situation. He could no longer hear any cannon fire from the above or below decks, which he attributed to Shari and her group. He listened intently between the salvos to see if he could hear anything from the top deck, but his attempts were fruitless.

"CAPTAIN!"

One of his followers called out from the starboard side of the ship, facing the Void Kraken. The alarm in the man's tone made James' heart skip a beat. Curiosity and excitement mingled as he sped towards the other side of the gun deck. His feet made no sound on the wood as he ducked below some low hanging ropes.

Before James could ask him what was wrong, he got his answer.

A tentacle smashed into the side of the ship, followed immediately by another tentacle, followed by another.

The force was enough to send many of his men flying backward, but as they were all incredibly dextrous, they all somehow landed on their feet... taking no damage. Those that had kept a hold of their cannons were firing erratically in different directions, which confused James.

"What's happening?"

The Dread Pirate asked as he leaned down to look through the hatch.

Two yellow tentacles were flailing powerfully in the distance and teleporting at the last moment, reappearing beside the Tempest and causing a devastating blow upon impact. As one attack connected, the next one was coiling in anticipation.

James returned to the Legendary cannon and thought about his next steps. He wasn't sure why it had suddenly changed its attack pattern.

As if to answer him, James noticed a few notifications he had unwittingly suppressed throughout the battle.

The Void Kraken has lost 5% of its Health.
The Void Kraken has lost 20% of its Health.
The Void Kraken has lost 30% of its Health.
The Void Kraken has become enraged!

James grinned as he read through the notifications.

"So we've pushed it to the next phase?"

Attacks continued to slam against the side of the ship, giving the Tempest no time to adjust course. Each impact caused the wooden walls to creak painfully, and James knew it was only a matter of time before it would give way.

His eye quickly ran through the remaining notifications to see if there was anything else important.

Quest Success!

  • Break the Wall!
    • You can now sail across the entire continent of Abidden
    • Your Faction can now expand beyond Rayth.
    • Tales of your Infamy are expanding across the waters.
    • Quest rewards cannot be allocated whilst you're in battle.

The Celestial Crusader has defeated the Elves of Magnus and destroyed the Wall! The Dread Lake and its inhabitants are now invading the Mana Lake and expanding your domain!

Quest Updated: Expanding the Dread Domain
Quest Updated: Legendary Alliance
Quest Discovered: Visit the Ruins of Dervius in Lostridge
Quest Discovered: Visit the Temple of Locke in the City of Nova.

A torrent of quests appeared and James couldn't dismiss them fast enough. He needed to concentrate and adjust his plan.

His heart was racing as he tried to compose himself, but he couldn't contain the excitement that he felt at that very moment.

Jorgen Baw had just taken down the wall... and was undoubtedly in the area to hunt down the Dread Pirate. As long as James didn't attack him, the Celestial Crusader wouldn't be able to discover him.

James gripped the Legendary cannon as he aimed at the Void Kraken.

"Crackshot!"

A shot of lightning pierced across the sky, above the Void Kraken and into its outstretched tentacle. The momentum it had intended to use against the Tempest instead brought the tentacle into range of the lightning. Coupled with the skill, Crackshot, that targeted the vitals of the opponent... the tentacle didn't stand a chance.

The Void Kraken released an ear-piercing shriek that echoed throughout the Dread Lake.

Chunks of yellow rained down into the maelstrom, with some parts of the now dismembered tentacle teleporting against the side of the ship. The sounds of slopping meat hitting the wood was disgusting, but oddly gratifying to James, who just laughed and moved the cannon towards the next available tentacle.

The Void Kraken has lost 40% of its Health.

James grit his teeth as he waited for his cannon to recharge, but a smile was never far from his face. He couldn't remember the last time that he had this much fun in a game.

The Void Kraken has lost 50% of its Health.

James glanced to his left and right. There was no way that the cannon fire had taken an additional 10% of its health in such a brief space of time.

"Hold Fire!"

The Dread Pirate instructed as he squinted at the massive creature.

"Here, you can use this!"

One of his Followers threw an item towards him, which he caught without thinking.

  • Dread Duelist's Spyglass (Uncommon)
    • Sight Range increased x4
    • Ability Granted: Pinpoint

"Thanks!"

James muttered as he gave the options a cursory glance.

"What the hell does Pinpoint do?"

He idly wondered as he raised the spyglass to his eye.

Just like it said, it magnified his vision to four times the normal capacity. He could see the Kraken thrashing erratically in the water, jolting back and forth whilst keeping half of its arms below the surface of the Dread Lake.

Suddenly, a green flash appeared amidst the waves and James tried to focus on it. Before he could identify the anomaly, a tentacle smashed into the side of the ship again.

James gritted his teeth in annoyance as he completely lost track of the strange light. He raised the spyglass again, and it surprised him to see that the Spyglass snapped back to the exact location he had focused on before.

The Dread Duelist's Spyglass has activated Pinpoint!

As his sight zoomed in on the location, James couldn't believe what he saw.

There was a tiny ship behind the Void Kraken, barely traversing across the jagged waves of the Maelstrom.

"Notifications. Search by Dread Lake Factions."

He couldn't think straight, so he just said the words aloud, hoping it would trigger a response from the system.

You have gained the Respect of Maris the Siren.

"No way..."

James laughed as he moved the spyglass left and right. Small flickers of green flashed in front of his eye. He recalled that the creatures in the Dread Lake flashed red, showing danger. Maris had been amber and didn't attack him... so did green mean that they had become allies?

All the while he was searching with the spyglass, notifications from the Dread Lake continued their onslaught, but one of them caught his eye.

The Guardians of the Dread Lake have joined the Battle!

 

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A note from James Northman

Next up is Greaves' Interview on the Samantha Show, which you can read now by clicking on the link below. 

Chapter 45: A Night to Remember

Thanks for your support! 

Chapter 46: Remember Me? - Part 2, is being written right now! 

James


Support "Wildcards: Book One - The Dread Pirate"

About the author

James Northman

Bio: Irishman struggling to get through the #LitRPG Tutorial Island.

Currently writing Wildcards: Book 1 - The Dread Pirate

If you'd like to support me, here's a link to my Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/JamesNorthman

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