As soon as he saw the train in the distance, Vale and the rest of his group hurried forward, trying to be as sneaky and quiet as possible. Since they were crossing railroad tracks and an open area on the outskirts of the Abyssal Ones player base, Vale was cringing during the entire shuffle-run. By the time they all reached the shrine, his anxiety level was overwhelming.
He blew out a sigh of relief as he began inspecting the ugly structure. At least now they were all in some shade. It helped him feel a bit less exposed.
“What are you supposed to do?” whispered Bartholomew.
“I don’t fucking know! Leave me alone so I can figure it out!” Vale snapped. “Go guard or something.”
Bart shrugged. “Okay, but we don’t have forever before the train gets here.”
Vale just growled.
He ignored the rest of his group and walked all the way around the shrine. It was about ten feet by ten feet, and even more disturbing up close. Finally, as Vale had almost gone all the way around the knobby exterior, a small section of the structure opened like a mouth. Vale recoiled away before steadying himself, slowly peering inside.
He saw a glow and a system message appeared:
You have found the Power of the Prince!
While Lord Hygon is sleeping, you can steal this power, but he will wake up and try to get it back!
The Power of the Prince contains a dark power and a light power.
Adds inventory space.
Allows weapons to be stored in internal inventory.
Grants +3 attribute points
Elevates one weapon to the Legendary realm, changing it permanently. This special ascension process will cause the weapon to be soul bonded to the player for all time. (weapon cannot be looted)
Do you wish to take the Power of the Prince?
Vale took a deep breath. Wow.
“Okay, guys, I found it. Are you all ready?” The entire group nodded their heads. “Alright, here we go.”
Vale chose YES.
The light left the hole in the shrine, almost like it was being breathed out. The hole closed as the light left, shutting with a snap. Vale watched as the light separated into bright and dark glowing orbs. Suddenly, five bright orbs flashed out, hitting all five group members. Three dark orbs followed, slamming into Vale, Abigail, and Bartholomew.
A number of status windows popped up. Vale glanced at them, throwing his stat points into Intelligence, Stamina, and Luck. He wanted to make sure his points were allocated right away in case he leveled later. It’d be a shame to miss out on more health or mana.
Next, he closed all the status windows except the one that required his attention.
Which weapon would you like to imbue with the Power of the Prince: Dark Power?
Vale had seen the previous window, so he wasn’t surprised that he had to choose an existing weapon to be enhanced. He realized he should have warned Abbey and Bart. Oh well, too late.
He chose the Rapier of Twilight. He smiled as he did so. He’d been through a lot with his sword. It seemed right somehow that he let it grow with him.
Your weapon has become the legendary rapier, Yarikh’s Will.
It has absorbed a shard of the god Yarikh’s essence.
Please choose attributes for Yarikh’s Will.
He whistled in surprise as a new menu appeared with attributes, each listed with a numeric cost. He had ten upgrade points for his new sword and immediately understood what he was supposed to do.
After some careful thought, he began choosing the abilities he wanted. As he chose, his eyes widened and he suddenly remembered the upcoming fight. “Hey, Abbey, Bart, don’t finalize your weapon abilities yet. Let’s all do it at the same time so nobody is rushed before the boss shows up.”
“Okay, that’s fine, but we need to hurry,” Abbey said. She pointed in the distance where some curious players were watching them. Even at such a long distance, Vale could see there was something wrong with their bodies. They had to be Abyssal Ones. Abbey continued, “It’s only a matter of time until they go get their friends.”
Vale nodded. “Okay, let’s hurry. The train is almost here, too.” Following his own advice, Vale made sure he had made the correct selections. He waited before hitting accept.
“Ready,” called Bartholomew.
“I’m ready,” said Abigail, smiling.
“Okay, get ready for anything!” called Vale. “Let’s do it!” He hit accept on his menu and the sword at his side started glowing. However, he didn’t have a chance to watch it transform. The entire ground began to shake and he felt something waking up under the distant waves.
“Go go go!” yelled Bart. Brutus and Minerva led the charge to the approaching train, vaulting up onto a flatbed car. Because they were first, Vale saw their faces as he climbed up after, their horrified expressions fixed on the sea.
Vale turned around as soon as he was on the train and almost wished he hadn’t.
Lord Hygon was emerging from the waves, and he was even more horrible than Vale could have imagined. His shark head was somehow just…wrong. The proportions were off. He had as many eyes as a spider, and a spiny crest rose above his head. Only the monster’s face had crested the waves, but he looked furious. Each of his many eyes seemed to be locked on Vale.
Then the creature roared, the sound making the ground tremble. Small plants died, growing black and wilting under the creature’s fury. Vale’s world exploded, his mind assaulted. He barely noticed his health dropping.
However, suddenly Minerva’s voice rang out as she used her [Embolden] subclass skill. “What are you all looking so weak for? Zis is nothing, you dickless cowards. Hold your heads high and prepare to fight! The best part of you was flushed down a toilet!”
Vale squeezed his eyes shut, shaking off the confusion. He knew about the [Embolden] skill, that it required a verbal component. He wondered if Minerva had needed to be so…colorful.
Apparently, he hadn’t been the only one to wonder about that. Abigail yelled, “I don’t have a dick, bitch! Yell something less stupid next time!” Vale grinned, throwing back a health potion. In SOO, health potions were expensive and they took a while to actually replenish health, but in a situation like a boss fight, they were a godsend.
“I’ll yell what I want to yell!” laughed Minerva. “Doesn’t zis make you feel alive? Now shoot that damn thing or you are not worth your estrogen, ridiculous steampunk girl!”
At this point, Vale wasn’t sure if Minerva was using her [Embolden] skill anymore. However, as long as she kept the SAN attacks from killing them all, he didn’t really care.
Abigail was apparently not as fatalistic about the matter as Vale. She shrieked and drew her huge howdah pistol, aiming it at the enormous monster rising from the ocean. Then Vale got to see his first legendary weapon in action.
Abbey somehow rattled off four shots from the two-barreled weapon. Vale’s eyebrows tried to climb into his hairline as he witnessed four small explosions pepper Lord Hygon around his eyes. The giant monster screeched in pain, the unholy sound making the surrounding waves surge. Lightning flashed in the sky and clouds began to form.
Vale’s mind seemed to go into overdrive as he quickly assessed his surroundings. He’d noticed a large crowd of Abyssal Ones players leaving their town, drawn to all the commotion. He also observed dark shapes moving under the waves near Hygon, probably his Spawn. He came to a series of quick decisions and began snapping out orders.
“Abigail, pop a few rounds in that boxcar ahead of us to create a hole. That will give us a place to duck into if we have to avoid gunfire. After that, you’re our primary damage deal on Big Ugly. Everyone else, we’ll be protecting Abbey!”
“Okay, but I can’t shoot explodey rounds forever! It costs mana!”
“That’s fine,” yelled Vale. “Just dump as much damage into that thing as you can.
“Brutus, you’re our meat shield. Protect Abbey and help your sister keep them off of us.
“Bart, your primary mission is support. Use potions to help people out where you can. Use lots of health stuff on Brutus to keep him fighting. Your secondary job is to use your bombs for area of effect attacks if things get too thick.
“Minerva, you’re our melee damage dealer! Kill anything that gets on this train, especially anything that gets within a stone’s throw of Abbey. Make sure the SAN attacks don’t make us lose our minds!”
“Got it! It’s nice to know our leader isn’t as dumb as he looks!” the swordswoman shouted.
Vale chose to believe she was using her [Embolden] skill again.
Vale hollered, “I’m going to go where I’m needed, but I’ll mostly be using magic!”
“Incoming!” shouted Abbey.
Vale glanced up in time to see a handful of disgusting, miniature versions of Hygon scuttling towards the train. The Hygon Spawn had found them.
Then everything went to hell.
Vale could hear Abigail screaming as she unloaded round after round into the approaching boss. A couple Hygon Spawn leaped aboard the flatbed car. Brutus and Minerva began making short work of the first one. The other creature landed near Bart. Vale’s heart stopped; he thought his friend was going to die.
However, Bart drew his little pistol, snarled, and fired. Vale’s eyes widened in surprise. He had assumed his friend would have made his sword cane into a legendary weapon, but Bart had had other ideas. The dark-clothed man’s pistol belched a continuous stream of fire. The glow from the flames reflected off of his spikes and all the metal in his costume, making him look hellish.
The demonic, shark-headed creature shrieked in agony, its exoskeleton charring to a crisp. The Hygon Spawn tried crawling away and eventually fell over the side of the train where it died beside the tracks.
“Wow,” breathed Vale.
Bart whooped and pumped his fist in the air. Vale smiled too until he saw the Abyssal Ones players in the distance. Some of them had flintlock rifles.
Vale raced forward past his friend and began weaving figure eights with his sword. It was time for him to show off his own legendary weapon.
The distant sound of gunfire accompanied flashes of silver near Vale, his sword deflecting the big, heavy bullets.
His transformed sword began glowing white-silver as it deflected the musket balls. Vale got his first look at his new sword while he protected his party and grinned, showing all his teeth. Yarikh’s Will still looked like a rapier, but now the guard and pommel were black. A large, silver, crescent moon with a face and small silver stars were worked into the design of the guard. Silver wire wound around a soft gray grip.
“Bad ass,” breathed Vale. He heard his group fighting behind hit but couldn’t divert his attention. Deflecting the rifle fire was taking a lot of concentration. More Abyssal Ones players were joining the distant riflemen, too. Vale started to see Lords of Finality symbols among the attacking players.
Eventually, Vale counted over one hundred players in the distance all firing at his group. Luckily, none of them were good enough marksmen to overcome Vale’s defense. He grinned savagely. The LoF members among all the Abyssal Ones players were going to make his next action very satisfying.
Vale suddenly drew his sword back and channeled ten mana through his hand into his blade. “Wind Slash!” he yelled, cutting the air horizontally. The wide crescent of angry wind magic scythed outward. The flat wave of destructive energy hit the distant Abyssal Ones and blew up the entire hill.
The attacking players were literally torn apart. Pieces of fish men scattered everywhere, up to a couple hundred yards away. Some fell among the rampaging Hygon Spawn, distracting them and causing some to turn on each other. The monsters began fighting over scraps. It was madness.
Vale grinned and turned to see what was going on behind him. He dashed back to the other side of the train car, slamming his rapier into a Spawn creature. His legendary blade found a soft point between the creature’s chitin armor plates and effortlessly slid home. The monster shrieked and shuddered.
While the Hygon Spawn was distracted, Brutus ran forward and slammed his huge sword into the roof of the creature’s mouth.
The dead monster slumped down and Brutus knocked it off the train with a mighty kick. Vale noticed the big man was growing red like his sister. His eyes were red, too, probably a sign of his legendary class.
Brutus and Vale grinned at each other in a rare moment of understanding before Brutus ran at him and slammed Vale to the ground.
“What the—?” Vale yelled right before the entire train shuddered. An enormous tentacle had just slammed into the spot where Vale had been standing.
“Holy shit!” screamed Vale.
“No time for gawking. Attack it!” growled Brutus. The man suited his words with action by jumping up and delivering a devastating two-handed cut to the tentacle.
Lord Hygon screamed, the piercing noise overtaking the sound of Minerva yelling insults at the group in accented English, constantly using her [Embolden] Skill.
The boss had finally caught up and was keeping pace with the train. The entire world seemed to be exploding around Vale. He could only sit there for a moment and take it all in.
What the hell did I get myself into?