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A note from T J Logan

Long chapter for you guys today, been a bit behind on the uploads. If you haven't already, please leave a rating or review and like the already posted ones if you agree with them. I had someone dislike every review on the story because ... I don't know. Trolling I think.

Chapter 17 Shroud Of Shadows


Axel was stumbling through the city in darkness. He was panicking; a king’s ransom was in his wallet and if anyone found him, he would be killed and lose half of it. On top of that, he was still injured by the explosion. Though his health was gradually increasing, he was still having to limp.

He stuck to the back alleys; slowly getting back to the warehouse. He needed to lock himself in there until he found a way to sort his problem out. He heard a few players walking by him; suck in his breath and bit through the pain.

He wanted to scream and shout but he couldn’t. It was agonising. He was alone; he travelled for what felt like hours but was only minutes. Every second that passed, he reconsidered what he had just done.

It was a stupid thing to do. Axel knew it but was blindsided by greed. He knew it but didn’t feel bad about what he did. Instead, he was thinking that he should get someone else to do it instead of him. He was surely turning darker; he knew it himself and almost enjoyed it. A wicked grin spread on his face as continued to limp to Bandits Hideaway.

Eventually, and with much pain, he slammed his body against the warehouse door. He fiddled with the keys and let himself in. “Jason!” he shouted. “Where the fuck are you?!”
“Who are you?” Jason’s meek voice questioned from within the cellar.

“Get the fuck out and help me,” Axel grunted, falling onto the crate and breaking it.

“I don’t know who—”

“Jason, I swear on my mother, if you don’t get the fuck—”

The cellar hatch opened and Jason peeked his head out. “Oh sorry, you get a lot of thieves during hordes. You look like shit.”

“Yeah, I feel it. I need potions.”

“Sure, what kind?”

“Uh—” Axel racked his brain and started throwing out words. “The blender potion, invisibility— I need to disappear.”

“Coming right up,” Jason said. “Do you want a health potion first?”

“Yeah,” Axel grunted, clutching his side.

Jason plucked one from inside a crate and handed it to him. “Did you hear that explosion? I have to say, the uhyre are getting more and more creative.”

“It was me,” Axel spat, gulping down the red liquid.

“Y-you did that?”

Axel nodded as he wiped his mouth. “Yeah. Now all the travellers and NPCs will be after me if they found out who it was.”

“Did you …”

“Yes, I did,” Axel replied, meeting his eyes.

“Cool,” Jason said, nodding slowly. “My mum’s boyfriend wasn’t there, was he?”

Axel just glared at Jason who quickly took the hint. It was bad for Axel. However, it wasn’t as bad as the notification he was about to receive.

 

{Congratulations! You have successfully defended from a Uhyre Horde}

{Rewards by contribution}

 

“No,” Axel gasped.

 

#1 TH3_HOARD3R

#2 DAXONok01

#3 SmellyToes_69

 

“FUCKKKKK!” FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK! FUCKING CUNT! WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME BEFOREHAND I WOULD GET MY USERNAME ANNOUNCED!” Flying kicks and punches met every crate in the warehouse. He was swinging wildly out of frustration and pure anger. Jason was watching calmly as he stirred a potion. Eventually, Axel gave up and sat on the floor. He put his head into his hands and gripped his hair.

 

{Congratulations Player: TH3_HOARD3R}

{Since coming in first place, you have been awarded a UNIQUE item. This reward has been suited to your class and stats}

 

A cloak fell on top of him. Axel didn’t budge as he held in tears. However, Jason watched intently. Instantly, he noticed the quality of the cloak. It was black like the night sky. There were small hexagonal patterns that gently reflected the light from his bunsen burner. He had seen quality items before, but nothing of this calibre.

“Axel,” Jason said, pointing to it.

“Not not Jason, not now.”

“No, Axel. Look at it!”
With a chip on his shoulder, he pulled it off from his back. But once he examined it, his mouth dropped.

UNIQUE Shroud of Shadows


Description: This cloak casts a shadow over the used. When worn, sunlight does not affect the wearer.


Lore: A strange cloak, made from other-worldly materials. Its power comes from the shadows where the wearer lurks. A warning to the wearer, some might forget you even exist.


Tier: Legendary

Armour: 74

Condition: New

Enchantments: Regen III, Dark Move V

Move +50% faster in shadows when worn.

+3 X/s to all regeneration stats.


Abilities: When in shadows, become completely invisible.


I See Coins: No data available.

Axel’s heart rate skyrocketed. “It’s-it’s-it’s—”

“What?”

“It’s legendary,” he whispered.

 

{WORLD’S FIRST}

{Player: TH3_HOAR3R, is the first to receive a legendary item, gaining the Title: Legendary}

{All World’s First Titles are Permanent}

 

{You have received the Major Title: Legendary}

 

“Fuck it, I don’t care anymore,” he said, his voice completely calm. He was ecstatic, but his face didn’t show it. His first legendary item in four years. It brought back all the memories of his past. He cradled it like a baby; he smelled it— new.

“Put it on then,” Jason said, still staring.

Axel could sell it, make a fortune. But he wasn’t, he was going to keep it. This meant more to him than anything ever could. He could make the money, but there was no chance his fingers were going leave the legendary item. He hated the fact that he could sell it to cover the debt, but his overarching greed could never let it go. It was one of a kind, and it was his.

Axel gently got up from the ground and opened it wide. It was a large cloak with a hood. It was so basic yet elegant. From the light of Jason’s bunsen burner, hexagonal patterns reflected off.

Carefully, he put it on.

“Where’d you go?” Jason questioned, scared.

“You can’t see me?” Axel asked, moving towards him.

Jason heard footsteps, but no saw no Axel. “No. Not at all. Is it the cloak?”

Axel started laughing. It grew to a cackle. “I have a fucking invisibility cloak.” His whole body felt faster. He started running around Jason, letting his cackles echo around the afraid alchemist. However, he moved back towards the bunsen burner which revealed him.

It shocked Jason.

“By the three moons, Axel, I have never seen something so powerful.”

Axel put down the hood. “I think it suits me, don’t you think?”

“I hate to say it, but it does.”

Axel let out another chuckle. It was interrupted by Jack and Jasmine barging open the door.

“Man, that was insane!” Jack shouted. “What’s that—”

“A legendary item,” Axel said, grinning at him.

“No fucking way,” Jack stated, walking up to him. Jasmine was close behind.

Axel showed the description of the item. They both stared in complete awe, mouths wide open.

“You know what,” Jack said. “I was gonna say sell it, but you’d never do that.”

“You know me too well, Jack. This means so much to me,” Axel agreed.

“Can I wear it?” Jasmine asked. “I’m not going to steal it, I know what you’re thinking. I’ve never worn a legendary item.”

Axel gulped. He was hesitant but knew she would be persistent.

“Please,” Jasmine whined, putting her hands together.

“Alright. If you disappear with it, I will hunt you down if it’s the last thing I do.”

Jasmine nodded with excitement. Axel took it off and handed it to her.

“I’m not invisible am I?” she asked.

“Step in the shadows,” Axel instructed.

Once she did, she completely disappeared.

Jack put his hands on his head. “What the fuck, that’s broken!”

“Just OP, Jack,” Axel chuckled.

“Can you not see me?” Jasmine questioned.

“You’re completely gone,” Jack explained. “I can only hear your footsteps.”

Jasmine emerged back into the light and took it off. She didn’t want to give Axel a heart attack.

“My turn,” Jack said.

Axel nodded, and he did the same thing as Jasmine. Jason did too.

“Wow,” Jason said, “this is incredible.”

 

{You have befriended Jason}

{Jason will now do a singular favour for you. In return, he may ask one of you}

 

“Huh,” Axel commented.

“What?” Jason asked.

“Nothing,” Axel responded.

“By the way Axel, there’s a massive red skull above your player tag,” Jack reminded.

“Oh fuck, I forgot about that.”

“The blender potion is ready,” Jason said, turning around to stir a grey liquid.

“Already have a plan,” Jack tutted. “What is it?”

“First. I need to see if the blender potion will work,” Axel said, taking the potion from Jason. He downed it, and his feet started to wiggle.

“Well, has it gone?” Axel asked.

Jack shook his head. “Player tag is gone, but not the skull.”

“Fuck,” Axel spat. “Anything else Jason?”

“I’m cooking up a complete invisibility potion,” Jason said. “It’s about eight gold though— I should have told you before.”

“It’s fine,” Axel reminded. “I can’t keep taking potions for a week, that would drive me nuts. I have something else in mind.”

“C’mon then, tell us,” Jack said.

“I’m going to speak to General Rogan,” Axel said.

“Are you crazy?” Jasmine asked.

“Sort of. I’m going to deposit my wallet first. Jack, where can I do it?”

“Off the main road. You’ll see it.”

Axel nodded. “It’ll be risky, but I need to get rid of this. It’s a massive target on not just my head but yours as well. Did you guys get any penalties for helping me?”

They shook their heads.

“So why General Rogan?” Jack asked.

“He’s a high member of the city right? The general for the king’s army— I already have something in mind.”

“Need anything from us?” Jack asked, yawning.

“Nah, get some sleep. We’re close to the target of 4,000 gold. I want you at the top of your game.”

They all nodded, it had been a stressful day. “Is there a spare mattress?” Jasmine asked.

“Oh!” Jason exclaimed. He grabbed a potion and threw it on the floor. It exploded into foam and turned to wool.

“Got another?” Jack asked.

Jason threw another. “I might start my own mattress business.”

“Don’t get ahead of yourself,” Jack reminded, pointing to a chicken leg inside the wool mattress.

“Of course, I will need to iron some things out.”

“Goodnight you lot. Just to let you know, I’m gonna leave the items we got today inside of the cellar. I want them to be a fail-safe.”

They all nodded. In truth, Axel wanted to give them more trust. It was good if he knew he could trust them. Jack was the most loyal, but Jasmine and Jason were still new to him. While Jason and Jasmine snuggled into their chicken-bone bed, he placed the items inside the cellar. It was surprisingly large, and Axel thought it would make a nice loot of labyrinth in the future. Even more surprisingly, there were no bodies down there.

Once Axel came back up, Jason handed him a potion.

Invisibility Potion


Description: Makes a player’s body invisible (Not armour). You may switch the invisibility off by will but cannot regain it.


Tier: Uncommon

Duration: 3 Hours

Side effects: Causes one to wiggle their toes a lot. It is also disgusting.


I See Coins: 11 Gold Silver

“Thanks.” Axel took it. Breezing over the description, he downed it. Immediately, he started coughing. “W-why does it taste so bad?”

“Well, the usual one requires a special flower which is controlled by a company. I used a rats tail instead. Pretty cheap too.”

Axel maintained eye contact as he tried to push the vomit in his stomach down.

“Now,” Jason said. “In three, two, one.”

Axel’s vision went blurry, then his toes wiggled. “Ah, fuck, what’s going on.”

“Breath,” Jason coached. “It’s an unusual potion.”

Axel blinked a few times to get his bearings. He leant onto the wall but found his hand was missing. “It worked.”

“Of course it did, it’s me we’re talking about,” Jason reminded. “You can go now, just be careful.”

Axel turned to Jack who gave him a nod. “All gone. “

“Thank fuck,” Axel said. “Alright, I’m going to head off.”

“Goodnight,” Jasmine said, turning over on her wool mattress.

“You get some sleep too,” Axel told Jason.

“I’ll be fine, I got some when the horde started. My mum always used to make me go to sleep in case of monsters came and murdered me.”

“At least she cared that much,” Axel commented.

“No. She went to a party every time.”

“Well,” Axel said, clearing his throat. “I’ll see you guys in the morning.”

After that, Axel covered his face with his new cloak and headed out into the night. The skull and his player tag were hidden, but he could still be seen in light. He would look like a nightmare to most people; he just needed to be careful.

He reached the main street and looked for the bank. Sure enough, it was hard to spot as Jack said. There were a few players around a small deposit area. It looked like a typical bank for any VR game. It wasn’t like a real bank, rather just a front to access a terminal.

As quick as lightning, he came from within the darkness and opened the terminal. With his hood up, he looked like an ordinary person; that is if they didn’t look at his hands. He didn’t draw too much attention and deposited every single bit of coin inside the bank.

He leapt back into the shadows and disappeared. He breathed a sigh of relief. All his coin was safe for now. The only thing he could lose was the legendary item. Axel would fight an army to keep it. He’d give his left leg if it came to it. He was not the Hoarder for a reason.

‘Next stop,’ Axel thought, ‘General Rogan.’

Axel knew he’d be on the battlefield. If the game was as realistic as he thought, he was ordering his men to clean up the dead horde. He travelled through the city, staying out of light from the streetlamps.

He loved it. The item was something else entirely. He moved faster; was stronger and his all regeneration stats were increased by a flat three. It was a dream come true. He did use unorthodox methods to get it, and he definitely didn’t mean to, but regardless, he still acquired it.

Eventually, he arrived at the wall. There were players around in large groups, all talking about the recent event. Axel stayed to the walls and listened in.

“You think the Hoarder did the explosion?”

“No. I heard he’s good but not that good.”

“Whatever you guys think, he killed a bunch of NPCs and players. He should pay for his crimes.”

One of them yawned in response. “But did you see that explosion? It was fuckin’ awesome. I even got it on record.”

“You’re wrong. It was criminal and I hope he’s punished.”

“I know people don’t like the Hoarder but you gotta admit, he’s got style.”

Axel pottered backwards and forwards. There were mixed responses from the players. He was expecting something far more negative but was ultimately surprised when people defended him. It was good, not great. He never had a good reputation anyway with players so nothing had changed.

He kept to the wall and climbed up a few stairs; all while avoiding lights sources. He grabbed a rope from a pile and used it to abseil down the other side. His boots crunched onto the ground, and he took in his surroundings. He was right, there was a cleanup effort.

“A tent, a tent, a tent,” Axel mumbled to himself as his eyes looked around. “There.”

A collection of tents. There was a larger one with the flag of the city raised high on it. He let out a sharp breath and headed towards it. As he walked, he noticed the huge damage that the horde had caused. The ground was hilly and littered with arrows and magical resonance. Then there was the stench of all the dead bodies, humans and monsters. It was frightening, but he put that thought behind him. He had a goal and he was going to achieve it.

Once inside the camp, he trailed around them while avoiding light. Eventually, he was next to the giant tent. He crouched down and moved towards the entrance. He was about to look inside but a few soldiers walked out. Axel tensed up and held his breathing.

“All night we gotta clear up. Screw this.”

“Yeah, screw that old, stubborn bastard.”

‘Nice guys,’ Axel thought.

He looked into the tent, seeing General Rogan leaning over a table. There was light all inside but he expected it. He didn’t want to kill him, only talk to him. Axel took a deep breath, dismissed the invisibility potion and walked into the tent.

As soon as he stepped into the tent, a sword pierced the ground next to his feet. Axel threw his arms up in the air.

“Sorry!” he said, taking his hood off.

“You,” General Rogan said. “You’re the Hoarder, the one everyone’s talking about.”

“I know, I know,” Axel said, acting submissive. “I can explain everything.”

General Rogan screwed up his rough face and walked over to him. He got an inch away from Axel’s face and stared into his eyes. “Speak, or I shall have your head in front of the king within an hour.”

Axel faked a sigh of relief. “It was me who set the bomb off. It’s not what you think. During the second wave, I knew we were going to get overrun. I know you even thought it too.”

General Rogan moved a few steps while nodding. He grabbed a whiskey glass and filled it up. “And what else, you killed innocent people?”

“You think I didn’t want to?” Axel questioned. “I begged the guards and all the players on top of the wall to move away, but the captain only laughed in my face. I didn’t want to see the city fall, so all I could do was set them. I know how it looks, but I saved the city; I didn’t sabotage the defences.”

General Rogan cleared his face as he looked at a map of Tresluna on the wall. “So, you saved the city. Congratulations. You also killed innocents; people devoted to withholding the peace in this city.”

“You think I don’t know that!” Axel shouted, playing the part. He even welled up tears in his eyes. “I did it in order to save the city. Why can’t you see this?”

General Rogan’s mouth twitched. He filled up the whiskey glass, drank all of it and slammed it down onto a wooden table. “So what do you propose I tell the king?”

Axel gulped. This part was important. “Tell him the truth. I, the Hoarder, saved this city. I do not want recognition or rewards, only the bounty on my head to disappear.”

General Rogan huffed. “There’s been a lot of rumours about you, from the travellers. The residents of this city talk about you in good spirit though. Why?”

“It was from a long time ago. Most of them have hated me ever since.”

“Because of your illegal antics?”

“Not illegal. I merely played the system, General.”

General Rogan chuckled. “So, you want this bounty removed?” he questioned.

Axel nodded while gulping. “I only wish to better this city. I may be unorthodox in my ways, but I want to see it grow.” That line from Axel was true. A flourishing city meant more money into his pockets. Though, he wouldn’t tell General Rogan that.

“Fine. All bounties on your head have been removed. Just so you know, I will tell the king everything you’ve said to me.”

“I’ll have it no other way. Honesty is the best policy, Sir.”

“Now be off with you, and don’t sneak into my quarters again.”

Axel bowed his head and scooted off into the darkness. Once he was far away, he threw his arms up into the air victoriously. It had worked. He needed someone of high standing in the city to wipe the bounty, and General Rogan was the only person he knew of that could do it. Lenny, on other hand, was yet to become the guard captain.

“I wonder where Lenny is.”

Axel moved around the camps in search of him. Many were on breaks from their clean up effort. Alas, Axel found him sitting around a fire with a cup of ale in his hand. He appeared to be the talk of the town. The soldiers and guards were all cheering him on; slapping his back and filling up his drink.

Axel sighed happily. It looked as if his grand plan had worked.

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T J Logan

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