A note from karami92

Author's Corner: Thank you to Jason Woodburn for joining the Patreon!

It had been eight hours since the forces of Legion had made their way to the Mad King’s palace. They had been utterly defeated by the man’s mere presence, without even being able to see his face. But they did not give up. They still had tricks up their sleeves.

Thankfully, the Mad King at least seemed to be a man of his word. They chose a spot to rest and relax, even logging out for the day when the system informed them that it was truly safe. While logged out, they discussed with each other about the abilities of the Mad King, and what they could expect from the fight.

“Obviously, he has a really powerful darkness ability.” An elven woman said as she looked at the holographic screen being projected over her wall, nine other faces appearing on it. “The second we opened his door, he used it. Or maybe it’s a passive effect of his. We should equip our darkvision goggles before trying to fight him again.”

“Oi, but ye saw what the man did to me staff.” A gruff voice spoke up, surprisingly deep considering who it came from. Their priestess, their healer… a young dwarven man. Why he chose to play a female character, the rest of the party never really understood. “What’ll we do if he does the same thing to the rest of our items?”

The elven woman, their resident expert mage, spoke up again. “Games always have rules, Burmir. The stronger an ability is, the more difficulty there will be in using it. I can see two possibilities here. First off, it could be an event power that the King only uses to force the attacking party to rest and recover their stamina. If that’s the case, he won’t be doing anything like that in the main fight.”

“The other option is that it is a true skill. A high level mana control skill might be able to control the mana of a magical object to detonate it, like how Leon uses his books. Only his skill would let him target someone else’s items. This is the worst case scenario, because it means that any items with active effects could be destroyed.”

Another voice spoke up, a human male. One of their archers. “What if we swarm him with attacks from all sides, make him unable to focus enough to channel the skill?”

Finally, their party leader, the warrior that had led them through their many fights, nodded his head. “Any skill requires sufficient focus to activate. That’s true in here and in the game. But, did you see the footage?”

“Right.” The elven woman nodded her head. “That wasn’t a normal NPC. Even an event NPC wouldn’t respond like that when there was nobody around to trigger it. I think that there is an extremely high chance that the Mad King is a game admin.”

“Won’t that just make things harder for us?” Burmir spoke up in agitation. “I mean, he could just buff himself through the mists and we’d never be able to finish the job, right?”

“I don’t think that’s likely.” The party leader said again. “If he is an admin, and he wanted to block us off, he could have simply let us fight and wiped us out. But he told us to rest, to fight him at our full power. I think that it’s safe to look at this as a test. If we don’t perform up to a certain standard, he’ll destroy us easily. But, if we can prove ourselves, he might take the fall, stage a dramatic defeat.”

“Would that really be good for the company?” Another mage, this one a halfling girl, spoke up in confusion. “If you look at the Mad King as the end game content, is it really a good thing for it to be taken out in under a year?”

The elven woman gave a light scoff at that. “Vision Expanse always had a limited shelf life. It offers too much, but is way too crowded. They don’t deal with instanced servers, so the space is always going to be limited. Once we take out the Mad King and become the heroes of the world, things are going to change. Players will rapidly expand and establish their own territories, but that will be it. No new content means a sharp decline in their interest. Only those hardcore roleplayers will stick around here after another year or two.”

The party leader nodded his head, seeming to agree with the assessment. “For now, we’ll stick with Vision Expanse. Once a new game comes out, I’ll look into seeing if we should swap over. But, until then, I think we can make our own adventures enough to keep going here.”

“We’ll follow your lead, boss.” The halfling mage spoke up in a bright tone, placing an open hand over her chest in salute.

“Everyone, rest up. Tonight, we’re hitting him with everything we have. Let’s use our Overlord strategy this time.” As soon as he had given that verdict, the holographic screen vanished, the call having ended.

“Overlord, huh?” The elf muttered to herself. “Kind of overkill, but I guess it fits here.”

Back within the game, Legion was ready. Each of them fit a single ring onto their fingers, silver with the image of an open palm. They didn’t speak aloud, knowing that there was the chance that they were being observed, simply giving it a few minutes for the reporter to appear.

Naturally, they weren’t able to perceive her when she did, that being the entire point of her character type. However, they had let her know in advance when they would be doing this fight, so it was just a matter of waiting. After a few minutes, the party leader nodded, opening the door of the room that they had used to rest.

Without a word, the party moved, pulling a pair of black goggles out of their inventories as they walked down the halls. Each of them made sure that their goggles were firmly strapped to their heads before they ever reached the door of the throne room.

However, this time there was no deafening voice, no all encompassing darkness. The door did not even wait for the party leader to slam it open. As soon as they neared it, the door simply opened of its own accord.

Glancing to one another, they took it as a sign that they were expected. They held their hands together as they walked in, rather than having their weapons drawn, using one hand to hide the ring on the other. If the Mad King couldn’t see the ring, then it was unlikely he’d be able to accurately target and destroy all ten.

When they stood inside, all lined up, they saw with their own eyes the elven youth. This had been a point of interest for them when they saw the footage earlier, as all of the texts described the Mad King as a demon.

As he spoke, however, they could hear that same ancient voice. “So, you have come. Finally, there is someone that has made it here to challenge me?” The way he asked was almost as if the matter was of no real importance. He could have just as easily asked what was for dinner in the same tone, and nobody would bat an eye.

“That’s right!” The party leader spoke up, taking a step forward. “We’re here to end your tyranny. Everyone!”

At once, the ten members of Legion lifted their hands, the rings pointed out towards the Mad King. He watched with an amused smile as a dozen rolls of parchment appeared in front of each of them. “Very well, let’s see how well you prepared for me.”

Over a hundred spells fired together, mixed blasts of lightning, fire, wind and stone. All of them focused on a single point. This was the Overlord strategy. A single barrage of attacks meant to erase bosses. And if it couldn’t completely destroy them, it would at the very least weaken them for the battle ahead.

A small smile appeared on the party leader’s face when he saw the obvious collisions from the spell, but he still immediately drew his weapon. Unless the system announced that an event had been cleared, he would always expect that the fight was not over yet. Likewise, the others all drew their weapons at the same time, not waiting for the smoke to clear.

When it did, however, their expressions froze. The throne that the Mad King had sat upon was in ruins, broken bones littering the floor. Standing in front of it was the elf… no, the thing that had looked like an elf.

The Mad King had holes piercing through its body, and even its head, yet it stood calmly. An empty void pierced straight through its skull where one of its eyes had been, yet they still felt its gaze focused on them. Darkness oozed out of every wound, dripping onto the floor and spreading out like a black puddle beneath its feet. One that kept growing, and growing, and growing.

“Good. You have spirit. Had I a mortal flesh, your attack may have done me in. Especially you, dear scribe. Your aim was quite excellent. Straight for the heart and brain. Sadly for you… I have neither.”

As he spoke, the black pool continued to expand, beginning to creep up along the walls. Legion was forced to step back away as it came closer, their priestess once more striking the ground with her staff. “Begone, ye evil darkness.”

A brilliant barrier of light surrounded the party, and seemed to halt the progress of the black pool. For a moment, the party seemed relieved, as this would confirm their suspicions of the attack it had used the night before being an event only ability.

“Darkness is not evil.” The Mad King spoke, his body slowly sliding forward along the surface of the black pool. “Light is not good. No element possesses a moral superiority over any other. Watch…”

When the king drew closer, and placed his palm on the edge of the barrier, the priestess suddenly had a very bad feeling. “Oh light which has intruded upon my sacred darkness, I banish you.”

There was a cracking noise, and the barrier shattered like glass, the black substance once more spreading closer. Strangely, the Mad King did not move with it. Suddenly, a thought occurred to the elven mage, and she held her staff high above her head. “Balefire rain.”

A ball of fire shot up from her staff, turning into a swirling cloud above the battlefield. Molten rain fell from the cloud, smoke rising as each ‘drop’ struck the ground. The Mad King let out a hiss of pain, the darkness recoiling away from the fires.

“He’s transformed his body!” She called out to the others. “He’s not just controlling the darkness, he is the darkness!”

“Clever girl.” The Mad King growled as he heard that, his skin turning pitch black. “But that won’t be enough to save you.”

“Oi, wanna bet?” The priestess asked with a wide grin, swapping out her staff for another. This one had a golden hoop at its top, five rings linked into it. Unlike how she had used her previous staff, this one she swung in front of her, allowing the rings to shake and chime. “Oh being of darkness, creature born of malice. In the name of the goddess Ashley, I drive you back! Divinity’s Wrath!”

A dark energy flashed out from the tip of her staff, striking at the black pool of shadows on the ground. Immediately, the pool seemed to weaken, being pulled in to the dark beam. At the same time, the rest of the group similarly arranged their own equipment to be strongest against the darkness.

Bursts of light and energy blades shot out one after another, followed by the screams of the Mad King as he stumbled back towards his throne. Now that they knew how to fight him, and had weapons that opposed his element, he did not appear so domineering. However, he would not allow them to have the final laugh so easily.

“You think this is it?” He laughed, even as he gripped a cut in his side, one that was not truly healing as it should. “Foolish mortals… this isn’t even my final form!” A clap of thunder rang out as the figure exploded upwards in a pillar of darkness.

The ceiling of the palace shattered, debris flying away for hundreds of meters. The members of Legion gripped their weapons tight, expecting a final stage of the boss battle. However, soon, silence emerged. In the dead of night, the Mad King could not be seen, having flown above the sky, above the clouds, and into the infinite darkness.

“...Really?” The halfling asked after several long moments. “He ran away?”

...Really? I asked mentally as I watched the scene playing out, as well as the announcement playing that they had driven away the Mad King. You had to?

Oh, come on! Aurivy’s voice responded back moments later, far too amused with herself. That line’s a classic!


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