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Edward was on a skin-toasting beach. He was laying next to his heart-fluttering girlfriend. But then his sight swirled. It brightened till his eyes burned. The world went white.

A gentle but glacial breeze scratched across his warm skin, and whimpering, crying, and screaming ravaged his ears and rumbled his heart.

He couldn’t see. He clenched his arms, and he lurched at what he felt. Despite wearing a long sleeve shirt on the beach, he could feel the skin of his biceps. He touched his chest. His shirt wasn’t there. He touched down below. His clothes vanished.

The scent of the sizzling chicken wings and the barbecue sauce that smothered them, and the aroma of his girlfriend’s sweet and heart-easing perfume vanished from his nose to be replaced with the stench of sweaty bodies and something else that strangled his heart with dread: corpses.

“Don’t step over the line!” an inhumanly raspy voice growled to his right. Something blunt and hard slammed into Edward’s cheek. The impact lifted him off of his feet and shot him through the air till he crashed onto a coarse stone floor. The jagged edges of loose tiles scraped across his skin. They wounded his cheek and smeared blood on the ground.

Pain smothered his face. He winced. Slapping his palms on the floor, he pushed himself up. But he fell onto his side. He banged his shoulder. Without any sight, his balance whirled.

Grimacing and groaning on the ground, the bright white that enveloped him gradually dimmed to be replaced with a grey that was dappled with patches of brown and green. He eventually regained his sight, but the world blurred. He could still see enough to slam his hands on the stone floor and drag himself to his feet, but he wobbled and winced as he stood. Blinking a few times, his vision finally became clear.

Wooden walls surrounded him. An icy wind burst through rattling wooden shutters. It smothered Edward’s skin and made him shiver. It made him forget what the warmth of the beach was like. Outside of the building, thick clumps of snow rained down from dark grey clouds. A curved wooden ceiling loomed above him. Candles wobbled on rusty iron chandeliers. The hall was nothing like what he was familiar with in the modern day.

Edward lurched and his heart rattled when he looked away from the walls and ceiling to see green men and women clad in glinting conical helmets, splint vambraces, splint greaves, and twinkling chain mail. Their unusually large green hands strangled the shafts of axes and the handles of round shields. There were several dozen of them. They all had large and sharp ears. Most were green. Some were turquoise. Some were even blue.

Edward turned and saw that these green men and women surrounded and formed a circle around him and at least a hundred other naked regular people. All the regular people snapped their eyes wide and rattled them across the room. Some of them curled up onto the cold stone floor and shivered, but some wandered about, calling for their parents, friends, or lovers.

The green goblin-like people seemed to have drawn a white line made of chalk between them and the regular people. When anyone stepped out of that line, like Edward did earlier, the soldiers would whack them with the pommels of their axes and shout at them.

What did they want? Edward stared at them. They all glared at people like him with skin wrinkling scowls. Or they’d lick their lips and grin as if they were at a buffet. After staring at one of them for too long, a couple of them turned to him and bared their long and sharp fangs. They snapped their red eyes wide and hissed at Edward.

He bristled, jerked his head away from the green soldiers, and glued his eyes to the wall, but before he did, a blue and glowing rectangle appeared above a soldier. It said:


Level: 5

Race: Goblin

Class: Warrior (Uncommon)

HP: 100%

Stamina: 100%


Edward discreetly shifted his eyes towards another green soldier without moving his head and stared. After a few seconds, the blue box appeared again.


Level: 4

Race: Goblin

Class: Warrior (Uncommon)

HP: 100%

Stamina: 100%


Edward blinked a few times, slapped his cheeks and stared at another soldier.


Level: 3

Race: Goblin

Class: Warrior (Uncommon)

HP 100%

Stamina: 100%


Was this a video game? Did someone kidnap him at the beach and trap him in a VR game? But how could a game simulate such icy wind that it made his body shiver and teeth chatter, simulate such a rancid stench of sweaty bodies and cadavers, or such a sharp and continuous pain in his cheek from getting hit in the face?

It couldn’t be a game. It had to be a real world.

Yet, when he stared at a human woman for ten seconds, who trembled, scattered her eyes across the room, and called for the names of her friends, he saw:


Level: 1

Race: Human

Class: Farmer (Common)

HP: 100%

Stamina: 100%


When he stared at a young man who wandered through the cacophany of frightened people, calling for his parents, Edward saw:


Level: 1

Race: Human

Class: Blacksmith (Common)

HP 100%

Stamina: 100%


When he stared at an adult woman who scurried through the crowd, calling for her children, Edward saw:


Level: 1

Race: Human

Class: Carpenter (Common)

HP 100%

Stamina: 100%


It had to be a real world, but also like a video game. Could it be a dream? Could a dream really recreate such vivid sights, feelings, sounds, and smells?

Ripping Edward out of his rumination, the green soldiers yelled.

“My lord, come quick!” A goblin snatched the short brown hair of a skinny young boy who was barely half their height and appeared around eight years old. The goblin pulled him towards them. They all yelled and pointed at him. Some of them skipped and laughed ecstatically, as if they just won the lottery, but some of them shuddered and gaped as if they looked at a monster.

The young boy whimpered, punched their chests, and screeched at them, telling them to let him go. But the boy’s thrashing of their chain mail covered chests and green faces didn’t even make them flinch. The goblin soldier pulled the boy off his feet by his hair and let his feet rattle and kick the air.

After staring at the boy for a while, Edward saw:


Level: 1

Race: Human

Class: Fire God (Divine)

HP: 100%

Stamina: 100%


Why did these goblins single out the boy? The only thing he could see that was unique about him was the class. Most people had classes like Farmer, Blacksmith, Cook, Carpenter, etc. and were all ‘Common’. What did ‘Fire God’ and ‘Divine’ mean? Did it mean he was strong? That would explain why some of them were afraid. But why would some be excited?

Edward wondered what class he was, so he looked down at his hands, and after staring for a while, he noticed that the floor was much lower down than normal, and his body was much more muscular. In the real world, he was short and skinny, so why did he appear he so tall and muscular?

Regardless, he kept staring down at his hands and a much larger and detailed blue box appeared:


Name: Edward Williams

Level: 1

Class: Dream Knight (Legendary)

HP:100%

Stamina: 100%

Progress to next level: 0%

Race: Human

Racial Ability: Marathoner (Uncommon)

Special Ability: Grave Guardian (Legendary)

Class Abilities: Dream World (Common)

Strength: 8

Defense: 8

Agility: 8

Magic: 8


Seeing that his class was ‘Legendary’, Edward’s heart leapt. A grin twitched on his face because it implied that he was strong, but a frown replaced it when considering the danger surrounding the ‘Divine’ boy. So Edward shifted away from the white line and further into the middle of the crowd of people, hoping to avoid getting singled out like the ‘Fire God’.

Sweat dripped down Edward’s face. He didn’t know what these goblins wanted with him. He didn’t know what they wanted with the other hundred humans. But he could tell that whatever it was - it’d be violent.

So his eyes scattered across the room and scoured it for opportunities to escape. Whilst the soldiers surrounded him and the other humans in a circle, there were some gaps in between them. What if he ran through those gaps? Whilst he felt stronger, bigger, and lighter on his feet than normal, would that be enough to avoid their axes?

Staring at their armour, weapons, levels, and bulging muscles, he ground his teeth and grimaced, realizing that there was no way out. Their levels were much lower than he'd expect of adult goblins who must've spent their entire lives in a world with levels and stats. Why did they only get a mere five in their entire lives? But regardless, whilst their levels were irregularly low, they were much higher than his own. His feet were restless and his heart rattled in his ribcage because he knew he needed to figure out a way to escape as soon as possible, but he couldn’t see a single opportunity.

Eventually, the circle of soldiers parted to reveal two unusual green men.

One of them strolled through the gap of soldiers. His bronze armour stood out amidst the sea of grey that the other goblin’s iron armour formed. He sauntered a few feet taller than the other goblins, who were already taller than the average human. His muscles bulged beneath his armour like a monster’s. Each footstep rattled loose stone tiles, boomed through the air, and echoed across the room. His height and musculature was inhuman and more akin to a beast. It had to be a dream; someone so big couldn’t possibly exist.

After staring at him for a while, Edward saw:


Level: 28

Race: Goblin

Class: Warrior (Uncommon)

HP: 100%

Stamina: 100%


Next to this monster stood another green man. However, this one was much smaller and skinnier, albeit taller and bigger than the other goblins. Twinkling sapphire gems smothered his shimmering cyan plate armour, and silver hoop earrings hung even more sapphires, and wobbled on his large and sharp ears as he marched.

After staring at him for a while, Edward saw:


Level: 80

Race: Goblin

Class: Sorceror (Rare)

HP: 100%

Stamina: 100%


The man in bronze armour punched the air and cackled in excitement at the sight of the young boy who whimpered and dangled in the grip of a goblin.

“We did it, Wickancis!” He roared after bellowing a deep and gravelly laugh. He snorted down at the man in blue armour, who Edward assumed was Wickancis. “Why do you look so grim now!? We hit the jackpot!”

“We did not hit the jackpot, Unnalt,” Wickancis grumbled. His knees seemed to tremble as his eyes snapped wide and wobbled at the sight of the ‘Fire God’. “All this does it put a target on our back.” Wickancis rose his hand and pointed a palm at the boy. “Put him down and step back.” A bright orange light flickered in front of his palm.

The goblins bristled, let go of the boy, and stepped back, but Unnalt rushed towards Wickancis. “Wait, stop!” He said as he ran at and reached for Wickancis. “What are you doing!?”

Edward knew what was going on, and the rest of the people there did as well. The crowd undulated as people shuffled away from the boy, but Edward slithered, plunged between them, and ran towards the boy.

Embers crackled and swirled around the bright orange light. Those embers grew into a blazing ball of flame that showered the entire room with an eye-straining light and doubled the size of Wickancis’ own body. Edward flung himself past a few people and finally reached the front of the crowd. He rushed towards the boy.

Just before Unnalt’s reaching hand could brush Wickancis’ shoulder, the fireball rippled and burst towards the ‘Fire God’, who gaped and shivered, freezing in fear.

“Grab my hand!” Edward yelled as he reached for the boy. But he stopped and slid across the stone tiles, letting the sharp edges of them scrape across the soles of his feet. The pain from the floor made him wince, but the sight of the flame devouring the boy’s body made Edward grimace, lurch and trip to the ground. He forgot the pain in his feet and the pain that reverberated up his elbows as he hit the ground, because the anguish that infested within Edward’s stomach, clawed up to his chest, and strangled his heart as he watched the boy writhe and dance in agony, made everything else feel insignificant.

The boy’s skin and muscles burned, peeled, and blackened. His bone gleamed beneath his shrivelling and melting flesh that drooped to the stone in viscous globs. The boy’s ear-shanking squeals and begging for a saviour ravaged Edward’s ears and shattered his soul.

Such sights, and smells, and sounds couldn’t come from a game nor a dream. It was real life. Edward slammed the stone and shook his head at his feet.

If only I was faster!

After staring at the boy for a while, he could see his HP rapidly drop from 100% all the way to 0%. Once it reached 0%, the screaming stopped and his dance of death ceased. His body, that became an incoherent clump of burnt meat and blackening bone, tumbled onto the stone and smeared black ash across it.

Edward’s eyes fled from the corpse and to the floor. But an ember flickered into being within his heart. That ember burned and grew into a raging flame, and pulled his eyes away from the ground and up at Wickancis. Fury roared in his stomach and grabbed his hands, clenching them into fists. His face ached from how much his scowl wrinkled his skin.

Edward wanted to escape, but that’s not all he wanted. But he also needed to kill that man. He didn’t care that he was Level 80 or had fancy armour. If this world really was like the video game he saw it as, then if he escaped, he could level up. He could level up higher than eighty. He could get powerful enough to kill that man, and prevent him or any more of these wretched goblins from summoning humans to treat in such a horrid way.

“What the fuck is wrong with you!?” Unnalt roared, marching up to Wickancis and glaring down at him. “Why didn’t you steal his class, or at least sell it!?”

“Are you slow?” Wickancis glowered up at Unnalt. “If I stole his class, then everyone across the Kingdom would be after me.”

“Why not sell it!?”

“For how much would I sell it for? Do you really think Eveena would buy it for such a price? She wouldn’t. She’d kill us all and steal it for free.”

“If you stole it, then you’d be a God of Fire. There would be no reason for you to feel fear.”

“If I was an idiot, then you’d be correct.” Wickancis turned and strolled out of the circle. “But I’m not. I have no desire to take such a risk.”

“You’re not an idiot,” Unnalt sighed, shook his head, and followed. “You’re a coward.”

Wickancis chuckled. “No, I just like living.” He turned, faced all the goblins, and cleared his throat. “Kill every human here with a common class and throw them into the meat wagon!” Wickancis’ command echoed across the wooden walls, battering Edward’s ears and shuddering all the humans there. “But don’t do that to those with uncommon classes or above. You should cuff them and pull them over to me in a single-file line.”

He clapped, and the soldiers tightened their grips on their axes and marched. All the humans shivered and gaped, unable to process what was going on.

After the first axe rammed into the skull of the first victim, people began to understand that their deaths approached.

Some people prayed, some curled up onto the floor and shivered, and some tried to run and scramble past the approaching soldiers. But the common thing amongst them was their inevitable doom.

Edward fell to his knees and retched as he watched the chaos. He was in hell.

Blood splashed all around Edward like a fountain. Pieces of pink flesh and drops of dark blood splattered on his skin. Confused kids, teenagers, adults, and the elderly fell to the ground with torn flesh and shattered skulls, oozing into pools of blood. The goblins would then snatch their corpses and drag them away to a huddle of hundreds of wagons that sat in a corner of the horrible hall.

Bloody cadavers already filled many of the bloody wagons before the slaughter began. That must’ve been the source of the earlier stench. Summoning humans to their world to kill and throw into ‘meat wagons’ must be something they did regularly. The raging and blazing inferno that roared and swirled in Edward’s stomach only grew in intensity and clenched his fists tighter.

A goblin snatched the neck of a screaming and writhing young girl beside Edward, and the rage that roared and begged in his heart couldn’t let him stand still and watch.

Despite the fear that trembled his legs, the despair that burned his eyes, and the confusion that scattered and jumbled the contents of his mind; an infernal fury begged him to fight.

So he rushed to his feet, ran at the goblin, and flung his fist up at the goblin’s chin, flicking the goblin’s head back and splattering blood up into the air. The goblin’s conical helmet fell off his head and rattled on the stone floor. The young girl smiled and sighed in relief as she fell out of the goblin’s grasp.

Edward never felt so fast, he never felt so strong, and he never punched like that before. Whilst eight strength and agility sounded low, it must’ve been much greater than average, and that fact thrilled him.

It gave him hope as he snatched the girl’s wrist, and ran for the chalk line that surrounded them, ignoring the axes, and shields, and armour, and green and veiny muscles that smothered his vision. The world around him blurred, and the bright light that shone through the hall’s archway entrance got brighter and brighter and bigger and bigger as he approached at a superhuman speed.

Freedom appeared closer and closer.

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