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Chapter 22 Declaring War

Owning a city. That is an ambition that has haunted the DrakeXScales guild for many years (in-game).

Owning a city, just like the Armageddon guild.

To fulfill their dream, they searched across New World looking for their ideal city. And found Mutianelis. A heavily fortified city, perfect to withstand any siege.

The fact that it was a starter city was just a bonus. A mark of prestige.

They decided to make the city their own.

For that purpose, they chained their own nature, trying to past their wolf-like personalities as that of faithful dogs.

They came into Mutianelis a few at a time, and started doing quests to earn goodwill.

By the time the entire guild was there, their presence wasn’t any cause for alarm.

They were patient enough, and smart enough, to never get angry, never appear greedy and never cause trouble.

Who cares if you’re cheated out of a few coppers, when soon the entire city will belong to you?

It took two years, in-game, to build enough goodwill with the leaders of the city for the leader of DrakeXScales, Drake, to be appointed chief of peace. Now in charge of the police, he gradually replaced the guards with the members of his guild. In a few months, the guild was in complete control of the streets. Drake then convinced the leaders to send the military away on a mission to pacify the mountains. There, an allied guild had promised to slaughter them, or at least stall them.

The rest was embarrassingly easy. As soon as the soldiers were far enough away, DrakeXScales initiated their coop: they already had members in the keep, so these members simply rounded up and assassinated all the officials, before nominating themselves in their place.

And now, with their goal in hand, it was time for the members of DrakeXScales to savour the reward of their efforts.

Using his new powers as leader of the city, Drake sent a message to all players in Mutianelis, telling them to gather in the plaza.

He was in charge now, and they were about to learn what that meant.

*****
Jinandis and Taname made their way to the now-crowded plaza. It was packed full of players, most of them newbies like the twins.

The two were at the edge of the crowd in front of a hastily erected podium.

Several players, members of the DrakeXScales guild, were standing on it.

There was also some kind of magical microphone device thingy and one of the players stepped up to it. He was a tall guy, with broad shoulders and chest. It was obvious that he was a warrior of some kind, judging by the thick plate armor he wore.

“Ahem, ahem! Welcome everyone! I thank you all for being here.”

The noise from the crowd faded, as everyone focused on the stage.

“My name is Drake. I am the leader of DrakeXScales. As you all know, this morning we became the owners of this city.”

There was some polite clapping, but most of the people in the plaza just looked confused.

“With us in charge of the city, there will of course be some small changes.”

This time, whispered conversations sprouted amongst the crowd. It was obvious that everyone found that statement ominous.

Drake’s smile turned predatory. “We have decided to implement a series of rules. Rule number 1: everyone who wants to leave or enter the city has to pay a 10g fine.”

The whole crowd erupted in protestations. 10g was an outrageous amount. Especially for beginners, which started with only 10 copper coins.

Drake continued: “Rule number 2: for every transaction in the city, including getting quest rewards, there is a tax of 50 % of the profits.”

This time, the words “It’s not fair!”, “Are you mad!” and “F*ck off!” could be clearly hear amongst the audience.

But Drake was still unperturbed. If anything, his smile grew wider.

“Rule number 3: everyone who uses this plaza as a respawn point must pay a fine of 15% of his total belongings.”

At that the audience hushed. Everyone could understand the implication of those words. Every time you entered a city, it was automatically set as your respawn point unless you specifically registered one beforehand, something which few people did. So that meant that if you tried to leave this city and died on the way, you would be forced to pay a ridiculous amount when you respawned, which would make you subsequently weaker on your next attempt, and so forth. But if you stayed in the city, you would get all your money leached out of you.

“Rule number 4: if you fail to comply with any of the previous rules, you will be repeat-killed every time you respawn here. Any questions?”

Even as he spoke, the member of his guild stepped into the plaza, forming two lines on each side of the platform.

There were close to 3000 of them, and each one was a high leveled player. Even if the other players outnumbered them, most of them were under level 10. If they tried to resist they would get slaughtered.

But for Taname, who had waited for a whole year to play New World, letting such a situation occur without trying to prevent it would be unbearable, impossible. She refused to let these people taint her experience of New World.

She walked forward. “You guys have no right to do this!” she shouted at the top of her lungs.

Drake turned towards her and smirked. “Oh what do we have here? A whining newbie? …Hey, whining newbie, why don’t you direct your complaints to someone who gives a f*ck?”

Even as Drake was talking, two members of his guild walked forward and framed her. But she didn’t let that deter her. Raising her chin, she spoke again, with a voice filled with conviction: “This is a game, a game we are all playing together.
You have no right to take away the happiness we feel as we play it for your own selfish gain!”

Drake looked at her, dumbfounded. The he started laughting. “KHYAHAHAHAHAHA…”

And at the same time the other members of his guild that were in hearing range also started laughing:

“hahahahahaha…”

“hihihihihihi…”

“hohohohoho…”

The sound of their laughter echoed in her heart, making her sink into despair. These people, not only did they not acknowledge her words, they even found them funny enough to consider them a joke.

“There are so many things I feel like replying to that”, Drake said, “but for now just die, you’re an eyesore.”

One of the two guild members standing beside her lifted his broadsword, and with one strike cleaved her in half.

Seeing that, Jinandis rushed towards him, enraged. It was just a game, but even in a game, who can remain calm when someone kills your sister in front of you?

The other member, a woman holding a pair of daggers, covered the distance between them in the blink of an eye and killed him in a single strike.

And thus, the twins both died.

*****
At home, both of them came out of their pods. Both were shocked by what had happened. Around them, the house was empty. Today was Wednesday, it would normally have been a school day. But their mother had allowed them to stay at home today because she knew they would want to play right away.

Thus, with nothing to do, the two siblings made their way to the living room and sat on the couch.

It was quite ironic: after all that time they had spent anticipating playing the game, it only took an asshole guild to turn that dream into an unpleasant one.

They discussed what they should do. Both arrived at the consensus to not tell their big brother about it. What could he do about it anyways?

Instead they would keep their heads down, wait until their one-month period ended and devise a way to flee the city as soon as they could with Kiro.

They briefly debated whether or not they should delete their characters and start anew. But the idea was rejected.
Creating an avatar in New World was an emotion process. You were creating yourself as you would like to be. Deleting them just because their situation was bad seemed wrong somehow. Even if they lost 5 stat points right at the beginning.

So, that night at supper they hid their disappointment from their mother, and the next day after school, they tried to quietly return into New World.

But as soon as they materialised in Mutianelis, they were recognized by members of the DrakeXScales guild, and killed on the spot.

Mina went directly to her bed from the pod, without even coming down to dinner.

Jinan, not knowing what was the right thing to do, lied to their mother by telling her Mina was asleep because she has been up all night playing.

The next day, they once more went to school, trying to act normal. And that evening, only Jinan tried login in. Once more, he was killed. When he returned, he told Mina that he had managed to send a message to Kiro before he died.

The two of them were discouraged. Tired. Especially Mina, who had been looking forward to playing so much. Her image of a fun game had been irremediably shaken by the acts of those selfish players.

But she knew her older brother was living in that world, and she still desired to meet him face to face.

At dinner that night she did her very best to behave normally in front of her mother. Then she went to bed early.

The next morning, Saturday, she woke up later than normal, and tried her best to act upbeat.

Allise was sitting at the dining table eating toast. Mina said “Hello!” in as cheerful a voice as she could manage.

Her mother just looked up at her, and asked: “What happened in the game?”

“Wh… what? Nothing.”

“There is no used in hiding it. I can tell when you and Jinan are unhappy. You and him where looking forward to it so much. I was to have my ears filled with tales of adventure. So. What happened?”

Her voice was tender, motherly. Somehow, Mina’s eyes were filled with tears. She jumped into her mother’s arms and started sobbing.

As she did so she started talking about what had happened in game. In the middle of her explanation Jinan walked in and started filling the gaps.

Once he finished by explaining that he had sent a message to Kiro, all three of them fell silent.

Then, Allise spoke: “So, now, what do you two want to do?”

“I don’t know.” Replied Mina. She still looked depress, although less than before.

Allise didn’t know much about the game. So she didn’t what she could suggest to help her children.

She decided to ask someone who could. Therefore, she took up the phone, and called Anamai, who decided to come over immediately after hearing the situation.

*****
Kiro was running through a plain of grass. After hearing his brother’s confusing message, he had increased his speed, and he was now 2 or 3 days away from the city of Mutianelis.

That’s when, in the distance, he saw a cloud of dust.

As he got closer, he realized it was dust created by the feet of over one hundred players.

Judging by the direction they were coming from, and the fact that there wasn’t much else around, they were probably from the city. In other words, they probably knew what had, or was, occurring there.

He altered his course slightly to intercept them. Once he got closer he dropped his speed and started to walk towards a tall brunette woman in priestly garb. Probably a healer of some kind.

“Excuse me, ma’am. May I have a moment of your time?”

He was usually shyer around strangers. But he felt it was necessary.

She looked at him. Her gaze wasn’t particularly friendly. It was more cautious. Still, she answered: “What is it?”

“I was just wondering, are you guys perhaps from Mutianelis?”

At that name her eyes narrowed in anger. “Yes, why?”

“Can you tell me what happened there?”

She looked shocked. “You don’t know?”

He shook his head.

She looked at him with amazement, snorting. Then when she started speaking again, her voice sounded tired but the words poured out as a torrent: “DrakeXScales happened. We thought they were good guys, but they were just after the city. Once they got it, they made our lives hell. They started lording over us, and imposing outrageous fines and taxes on us. Whoever tried to protest they just killed, and killed again every time the person tried to respawn. I even heard the first day, a couple of newbies tried protesting, and some guild members just killed them then and there. Finally we,” she gestured to the people around her, “had enough, so we decided to band together and leave…”

“I see, thank you.”

He resumed his run. After her explanation, he could make a reasonable guess as to what happened. He knew his sister very well, and he was aware that her sense of justice was very strong. Of course, hearing people impose such unreasonable demands on others, she wouldn’t have remained silent. And so they killed her and his brother.

Kiro speed up even more, heading towards the city.

Fiery anger and dread where now added to the unease that had filled him ever since he had seen Jinan’s message.

He wasn’t angry because his brother and sister had been killed. He was fully aware that New World was a game that held many dangers, one in which death was common.

No, what angered him was how they were killed. By shallow people who didn’t hesitate to trample on others for their own amusement.

See, Kiro truly loved this world that he lived in. This world filled with danger and magic.

Knowing that his siblings would be joining him here, it had been his earnest wish to show them the beauty of this world. To have them love it as he did.

But then his brother and sister were killed by a greedy bunch of players. And Kiro feared that because of that, their view of New World would be tainted. Maybe… they would come to hate it? If that happened, Kiro could give up hope of seeing them regularly again.

He absolutely did not want that to happen.

****
He was about a day away from Mutianelis. He had decided to travel through a pine forest, and the trees provided some cover. Night had fallen a few hours ago.

He didn’t know why he was running towards Mutianelis. It was obvious that his brother and sister wouldn’t be there, so what was he trying to accomplish? He didn’t know.

Suddenly, just ahead, he felt a presence, when there had been none just a second ago. He froze.

How did it escape his notice? This hadn’t happened to Kiro ever since…

Narrowing his eyes, he walked forward.

On the road ahead, illuminated by a flickering, dusty lantern, was an old rickety wagon, next to an indolent looking man in old, patched clothing. His face was wrinkled and tanned. On the wagon, a dirty tarp covered a huge pile of… something. Everything was covered, except for a dirty helmet peeking from under the tarp, covered in something Kiro fervently wished was rust.

Both the man, and the wagon, looked extremely out of place in these woods.

Looking at Kiro, the man let out a greeting: “Ho there, stranger!”

Kiro was extremely suspicious of the man. He decided to be direct. “What do you want, merchant of experience?”

It was a logical assumption. The only time something had escaped his Sensing Presence skill, was just before his meeting with the experience merchant.

The man laughed. “Ho Ho. It seems you have meet with my kind before. But I assure you, dear customer, that I am nothing like those miserable predators. For I am a merchant of War!”

“A merchant of War?”

“Indeed. Unlike those vile predators hunting vulnerable prey, I seek a different breed of customers.” He cleared his throat loudly. “Where somebody discovers a great treasure. Where a tyrant plans to conquer a nation. Where great injustices are committed. Where civil discontent reigns. Where there is unrest.  These fertile grounds I seek, bringing the seeds of war, so that they may be sowed by those with the courage, or the greed, or the ambition to do so.”

“War?”

“Yes. I sell war. All kinds of war. Every kind of war. Wars of conquest, defensive wars, sieges, wars of annihilation, wars of attrition. It all depends on what kind of war you, dear customer, seeks.”

“I – I don’t seek any kind of war!”

The merchant looked at him with unblinking eyes. “What attracted me to this land was injustice. The injustice of a cities’ rulers being usurped. What attracted me to this land was resentment, the resentment of a population towards its oppressor. What attracted me to this land was greed, the greed of the oppressors who has seized all it could yet want more, and the greed of those that envy what he has.

But what attracted me to this very location, in these woods shrouded in night, was bloodlust. Your bloodlust.”

At that, Kiro could offer no reply. It was true that whenever he thought of the DrakeXScales guild, and what they had done to his siblings, his hand unconsciously reached for his sword.

“Therefore let me ask you, dear customer, what is it that you desire? Is it the city? Or perhaps you wish to free it? Unless… Maybe, do you have some sort of grudge against the people currently ruling it?”

Just hearing the merchant speak, it was obvious to Kiro why he had come here after all, despite his siblings no longer being there.

“Yes. I want to punish them. To kill them. To crush them.”

“Aha. Therefore what you want, dear customer, is a Vendetta!”

“A Vendetta?”

“A war for the sake of revenge. A war for people ready to sacrifice anything to tear their enemies apart. Is this the type of war you would like to purchase?”

“But what is the benefit of buying a war from you? If I want to kill them, I can just go to the city and start killing them.”

“Haha. But that would be murder. While it would be perfectly acceptable in a war. But that is not the true advantage that I sell. What I can offer you, dear customer, is something perfectly adapted to your needs. Allow me to explain. Your enemies are strangers, are they not? Therefore, they are not bound by the chains of mortality. In other words, killing them once is not enough. But by purchasing a war from myself, you will have the power to impose a penalty on the losers of this war, at a suitable price of course. Penalties that are severe enough to follow them even in death. In other words, I am a merchant that specializes in providing wars for strangers. So, what do you say, dear customer, have I caught your interest?”

Kiro could only nod.

“Splendid. Here are your options. Choose wisely, as the penalties are severe:”
Ding!
[/td100][/tr]
Vendetta
War for the sake of revenge.

Conditions for winning: killing every member on the opposite side.

Conditions for loosing: every member on your side being killed.

To purchase this war, you must select one or more penalties from the options below. Be wary, as these penalties apply to both sides.
Options:
I will kill you not once, but twice, thrice!
Anyone who dies during the war will suffer three times the normal death penalty.

Price: The enemies your side kills will yield no experience.
I will burn your home to the ground, and leave you with nothing!
Anyone who dies in the war will leave behind all the gear they have equipped, as well as 33% of the content of their inventory.

Price: You and your allies cannot loot the corpse of your enemies during or after the war.
I will scatter your ashes to the four corners of the world!
At the end of the war, all players on the losing side will respawn at random locations.

Price: At the advent of your victory, your side is forbidden to travel farther than 10 km from the location of the battlefield for 1 month.
I will take away your land, your title, your pride!
Once the war is over, the looser will lose all claim to any piece of land, as well as any title of nobility that they possessed.

Price: At the advent of your victory, your side isn’t allowed to lay claim to what formely belonged to your enemies.
My curse will follow you for seven generations!
The losing side will have a curse placed on them, which will only disappear after they have died 7 times. The curse will cause them to be 15% weaker (-15% to all stats, health, mana, stamina, all resistances, damage and defense).

Price: Your side will gain no fame for killing any enemies with infamy.
I will make it so that not even the memory of you remains!
The losers of the war will no longer have the right to form, or join, parties, guilds, associations or alliances which have another member of this army. They will be forced to leave any guild, associations or alliances they are currently in without any right to resume their membership at a later date. Any guild, association or alliance formed by more than 50% of the members of this army will be forced to disband. If none of these conditions apply to the losers, their friend list will be disabled for 3 months in-game.

Price: No one can join your side after the war has started.


Kiro looked over everything carefully before making his choice. He looked at the merchant, and said: “I will purchase everything!”

The merchant coughed, then started laughing in a shrill voice. “Gihihihi. You really are a bloodthirsty one. Have you no fear of losing? Gihihi, after all, it doesn’t concern me.”

He took out a parchment from who knows where and scribbled a few things on it.

“Here you go. Just let a drop of your blood fall on this paper, and then make everyone in your army do same, before bringing it back to me and your war will be officially declared!”

“There is no need,” Kiro replied, making a cut on his finger before pressing it against the paper, before handing it back. “There is no one else on my side but me.”

“GAHAHAHA! Gihihihi! Interesting. Truly interesting! Do you honestly think you can do it? Nono. There is no need to reply. I can see from your eyes that you don’t expect defeat. Hahaha. This I will have to see.” He smiled. His eyes were filled with a mad sparkle. “I look forward to seeing your valor. Good luck, dearest and daring customer of mine!”
In front of Kiro’s eyes, another window appeared.
Ding!
Vendetta in Mutianelis!

You are declaring war on the DrakeXScales guild.

Conditions for victory: the death of every guild member in the DrakeXScales guild.

Conditions for defeat: your death.
Your side

Kiro
The other side

The DrakeXScales guild:
Leader – Drake
3058 other flunkies
Penalties to the defeated:

I will kill you not once, but twice, thrice!

Anyone who dies during the war will suffer three times the normal death penalty.

I will burn your home to the ground, and leave you with nothing!

Anyone who dies in the war will leave behind all the gear they have equipped, as well as 33% of the content of their inventory.

I will scatter your ashes to the four corners of the world!

At the end of the war, all players on the losing side will respawn at random locations.

I will take away your land, your title, your pride!

Once the war is over, the looser will lose all claim to any piece of land, as well as any title of nobility that they possessed.

My curse will follow you for seven generations!

The losing side will have a curse placed on them, which will only disappear after they have died 7 times. The curse will cause them to be 15% weaker (-15% to all stats, health, mana, stamina, all resistances, damage and defense).

I will make it so that not even the memory of you remains!

The losers of the war will no longer have the right to form, or join, parties, guilds, associations or alliances which have another member of this army. They will be forced to leave any guild, associations or alliances they are currently in without any right to resume their membership at a later date. Any guild, association or alliance formed by more than 50% of the members of this army will be forced to disband. If none of these conditions apply to the losers, their friend list will be disabled for 3 months in-game.
Will you declare war?


Without any hesitation, Kiro shouted his response: “Yes!”

****
In the central keep of Mutianelis, in the room once occupied by the top bureaucrats in charge of the city, the leader of
DrakeXScales, Drake, was comfortably seated on the chair once reserved to the ruler of the city.

All around him, charred marks on the floor were all that remained of the previous occupants of the room. Robbed of even the chance of a decent burial by the scorching flames that were the guild’s version of a cleanup.

Being in this room gave Drake a sense of power.

Reminding himself of the tyranny he and his guild had imposed on the inhabitants of the city, he could not help but chuckle.

In his mind, it was just the reward for the troubles he and his guild had went through to acquire this place.

The coming of newbies to this city had slowed to a trickle. Everyone who could had left already. That suited Drake’s purpose. Since the beginning he had wanted to keep the city for the exclusive use of his guild.

There had been no word from the troupes belonging to the city. The DeathSquad guild had done a good job.

Laughing quietly, he returned to reminiscing about the past few weeks.

And then.
Ding!
The player Kiro has declared war on you!

“What's this?!!?”

The same window displaying the conditions of the war that had appeared in front of Kiro appeared in front of him. He carefully examined it.

“Is this some kind of f*cking joke?!!” He couldn’t stop himself from murmuring.

Chapter 23
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olyver

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