This was a problem. Not only did it have two heads, but it had a voracious appetite for the living. It devoured, it killed, it grew, and even hacking off its arms didn’t stop it.
“That’s going to be a problem, isn’t it?” asked Agnis.
“Yeah,” replied Zero. He stood there watching. That’s one ugly beast, he thought. I wonder how it uses the bathroom?
He wasn’t too worried about what was laid out in front of him.
“Aren’t we going to go in to help?”
“Not yet. Aldran and his guild mates are down there helping out. I’m surprised that his group is already there. The KillemAll guild is there too. It would be best if we stay out of the way till we are needed.”
“Plus we need to see what our opponents can do. One day we might be up against them,” Zero stated. There are a lot of tough opponents I’ll have to face. Even this enormous quest is just the beginning for me, and rushing towards the top will be a never-ending battle. A battle in a dog-eat-dog world. He was already sizing them up for future reference.
“But what about the bet? Are we going to sit here and watch their whole fight?”
“No. We’ll keep going after the small fries while the big ones are taken care of for now. I think they can handle it pretty well by themselves,” stated Zero casually.
Charging in carelessly after the giant one won’t give enough points. One difficult kill will still only give me one point, while there are many easy targets to go after. I’m not going to spoil this opportunity and lose this bet. I’m so going to win. He quietly considered what to do next.
What he saw before him was an epic fight. Zero couldn’t help but watch with amusement. Aldran had summoned his magical white gryphon and was fending off the manslaughters by himself. His teammates were down. Whenever Aldran pulled back to regroup, Kyo would rush in and go berserk, wiping away both the small manslaughters and the large ones, devastating the monsters around him. He dismembered them with strong fire magic by enchanting his sword.
Fighters from each guild surrounded the large manslaughter, firing away with magic arrows. There were three main forces: One was a large force that enclosed the manslaughter with two heads by creating a ring around it. Second were the small groups of players that pushed back the other manslaughters that were trying to break through. They were gathered in pockets a bit further away from the double-headed manslaughter. The third was the archers from the wall that shot arrows down at any stragglers that the others couldn’t get.
The main force rushed in to help their leaders battle it out with fire, sword, and arrow. Their hoarse voices yelled out to one another summoning magic to launch at the hideous beast. It thrashed and spat out acidic spit that sizzled and crackled, melting everything it touched.
“Move. Move. Move!” yelled one of KillemAll guild mates.
“Aim for the legs!” Another rushed forward, hacking away at the thousands of legs. Many more swung their swords at the manslaughter, trying to immobilize it. The screams of the dying could be heard echoing in the battlefield. The players had the upper hand now; the tide of the battle had turned.
The manslaughters were dying by the dozens, but then the two-headed manslaughter sounded out a hideous cry for help. Stopping what they were doing, the other manslaughters turned their heads towards the cry and began to rush over. Hundreds and hundreds surrounded the guild mates, trying to get through, but they were held back.
“Time to go,” said Zero. He and Agnis bounded forward. It wasn’t a difficult run, but it did cause some unwanted attention from the manslaughters. They began to chase after him. He noticed all the manslaughters were converging to one spot and this gave him a precious opportunity to score more points.
“Finally,” Agnis replied, “Here I thought you’d given up.”
“You kidding me? This is the perfect opportunity.” He raced in towards the nearest small manslaughter that was running towards the two-headed manslaughter. Their cry sounded off in a scratching high-pitched tone, and he had to pull back his ears to drown out the horrendous sound.
Running side by side, he snapped at its heels. Agnis jumped off his back and onto the manslaughter. She struggled to get on, trying not to fall off its sleek, shiny, hard shell.
“This is so gross,” Agnis said. “I hate giant bugs. It’s like you can already feel it creeping up underneath your clothes.” She shivered.
“Say what?” shouted Zero. The sound of yells, clashing metal, and the screams of the manslaughter made it difficult to hear.
“I hate bugs!” she screamed. She quickly pulled herself up and scaled towards its head. Its ugly deformed human head turned towards Agnis. Its jaws clicked with anger. With one of her small hidden daggers that she pulled out from her armor, she quickly used a downward thrust and impaled the soft tissue of the creature’s head.
Zero finally was able to clasp down onto one of its legs and stopped abruptly. The leg popped out of its socket, while the manslaughter faltered to its side from the vicious yank, making Agnis and the manslaughter tumble in the air. Zero sprinted forward to catch Agnis before she hit the ground.
“Zero!” Agnis yelled as she flailed in midair.
Maneuvering in between the flailing legs and tumbling body, he was able to catch Agnis on his back in midair. Agnis’s hands grabbed on hard onto his coat, almost to the point of yanking another fistful of fur. His eyes watered from the pull, and he bit down trying to muffle a painful cry. She pulled herself up and made herself comfortable again.
The pain… His eyes teared up and he grinded his teeth against one another.
He didn’t have time to cry because the downed manslaughter was not completely dead and was lying on its side. It was trying to get back up but was disoriented from the knife in its head. He turned around and bounded back towards it. With his claws outstretched, he slashed, and tore through soft tissue. Agnis leaned over to the side and grabbed her dagger. For a split moment she dragged it across leaving a large gashing wound on the head when they passed by.
“I thought I would lose this dagger.” She stashed it back away. “It’s my favorite one too.” The manslaughter stopped moving and lay dead.
“Keep it safe or you might lose it for real this time,” replied Zero. He bounded forward towards another. It was a constant battle from one manslaughter to the next. Either they chased the closet manslaughter or they were chased by them. Each time Zero or Agnis gave the finishing blow. They were like the wind moving from one spot to another. There were a couple times where it was a close call, but each time they won.
While Zero and Agnis were running around in the outer circle fending off the manslaughters that were trying to move towards the two-headed one, Aldran pulled back a moment too late and was slashed on his arms. His left arm went limp and he dropped his shield.
“Aldran! Move back!” Gullifer yelled and rushed forward to cover for Aldran. Another blinding-fast attack was coming towards him. Gullifer raised up his shield to block the attack. Its sharp pincers grazed across the shield. More of his guild mates rushed forward to block and help out while Aldran pulled back to recover.
“Don’t let it through. Keep Aldran safe!” Gullifer commanded. A large group of players surrounded Aldran, creating a protective circle. A group of priests that were in the back rushed over to examine his wound. A majority of them consisted of female priestesses squealing to be the first to heal Aldran.
“Healing hands!” a female priest yelled before she was close enough to heal Aldran.
“Flash of light!”
More and more female priests began to cast their healing spells upon their leader.
“Focus your healing on your other guild mates. One is enough for me. Angrist,” commanded Aldran. He raised his hands to hold the others back. The female priests pouted with disappointment. They each wanted to be close to Aldran. Reluctantly they followed orders and went on doing what they were told.
“You have quite a few fans.” A middle-aged dwarf snickered. He walked over next to Aldran. His heavy armor matched perfectly with the Hercules colors.
“It is not the time or place for it,” Aldran replied with a slight agitation in his voice.
“But who wouldn’t want to personally heal our great leader?” Angrist grinned mischievously.
“I don’t know what to do with them. If I hog all the priests then our guild will lose. I have told those girls so many times. They never listen.”
Angrist burst out laughing. “That’s what you get for being popular.” He smiled and examined the wounds. “It seems that mass healing healed up a majority of the wounds. It would be better if you have another priestess to finish healing the rest.”
Angrist pulled out bandages and wrapped them around Aldran’s arm.
“Yes, I know. I expected as much. I didn’t need any more. Your skill for now is much more needed. I need your buffs. The one you casted before is about over.”
Angrist sighed. “You’re never going to get a girlfriend like this if you keep pushing them aside.”
“Girlfriend? That’s a random thing to say. I don’t need one,” replied Aldran. He got up and picked up his shield.
“Strength of the Lion!” Angrist called out his spell. A golden aura circled around Aldran. A lion’s crest magically appeared on his chest. “This is why you are living your life as a hermit.” Angrist shouted back.
Aldran rolled his eyes. “The last one didn’t work out. I’ll find one eventually.” He waved his hand as if it was nothing and strutted forward towards the battle.
“I can send you some pictures for the next group date meetings if you’re interested!”
“No. I’ll be fine,” Aldran shouted back.
“For your old battle buddy’s sake!”
Aldran stopped and sighed. “Fine,” he grumbled. “Last one.”
“You won’t be disappointed.” Angrist chuckled and ran back into battle.
“Why the hell do I always cave when he states it like that.” Aldran rushed forward into battle. His teammates moved out of the way when he began to cast his spells.
“Are you back from your nice nap?” yelled Kyo as he snickered. He was not too far away from Aldran. “Here I thought you ran away.” With a swing of his heavy sword he sliced through the legs of the manslaughter.
“Hardly,” Aldran monotonously answered. Slashing, dodging, and casting magical attacks, he looked like he was dancing around the two-headed manslaughter.
“You should’ve stayed behind. I could handle this by myself.” Kyo rushed in and slammed down into one of the pincers, breaking it in half. The monster reeled back in pain, and the other head rushed in for an attack snapping its jaws towards him.
“Behind you!” Fielian shouted. She sprinted in from the side to defend him.
Fielian slammed into its body, pushing it off course as the attack struck dangerously close to Kyo’s face.
“I could’ve handled that!” Kyo yelled. He slammed his heavy sword into its head and broke both of the pincer-like jaws clean off.
“I know, sir. But your life is important to keeping our guild intact. We cannot lose you in this battle,” she replied, fending off the two-headed manslaughter.
“You were always my favorite.” Kyo smiled and it caught Gulliver’s attention.
“He actually smiled.” Gullifer stated. “Aldran, he smiled. I thought his face was always stuck in a frown.” He chuckled and smirked.
“I heard that,” Kyo growled. His sword sliced through flesh and bones.
Aldran ignored both of their little squabbles and kept on attacking. With the two headed manslaughter’s health rapidly deteriorating, he swung his sword and sliced off one of its heads.
“Not bad.” Gullifer laughed. He was busily fending off the small fries that had tried to sneak up on them but failed. Back against back, both Gullifer and Aldran fought together in perfect sync. When one side attacked, the other defended. If one went ahead, he would come back in the nick of time to protect the other. They were known as a perfect complementary pair of fighters and were called the Lightning Duo.
Kyo grunted with annoyance. Once again he shouted, “Challenge of the Beast.” The manslaughters in his vicinity were caught in the spell and turned towards Kyo like bees attracted to a sweet flower.
“Kyo!” shouted Fielian in worry. She rushed over to his side.
“The idiot has done it again.” Aldran sighed. His white gryphon slashed through the manslaughters left and right. “Let’s go save him before he does something even more stupid.”
“Why?” Gullifer asked, confused. “It’s his own damn fault.”
“We need every able man for the oncoming wave. Right now we only have two major guilds here in the city. Jergorien left with the other four guilds to quickly search for the answer. We cannot lose any more people. We don’t know if the guilds will arrive in time, even though the deadline is at 3am.” Aldran took out another one like it was butter.
“Wouldn’t it be better if we had gone to search for the answer? We were the ones who finished the Seed Shard quest,” Gullifer asked with slight disappointment in his voice.
“True, but for some reason Jergorien got it instead. It does not matter. We will be the ones to defeat this raid,” said Aldran confidently.
Gullifer sighed. “I follow your lead.” He motioned him forward with his sword.
Both Aldran and Gullifer jumped into the fight defending Kyo and Fielian. It was a grand display of power. Kyo with his brute strength held back the two-headed manslaughter with Aldran. The guild mates and the guards of the city helped push back the swarms with Fielian and Gullifer taking the lead.
With a loud cry, Kyo and Aldran simultaneously attacked in a crisscross motion and wiped out the two-headed monster. A cry of joy sounded out from the people. Already, a majority of the manslaughters were slain, and only a handful remained. Small groups went out to battle the last surviving few.
The crowd cheered with victory as they chanted the names of Hercules and KillemAll guilds. Their praises rang with power and clarity as Aldran held up one of the monster’s heads and Kyo held up another. They stood proudly upon the fallen beast.
“Tch, I could have killed it without your help,” stated Kyo arrogantly.
“If you say so,” Aldran replied, ignoring Kyo’s disgruntled outburst.
People screamed with more excitement and looked upon them with awe. A couple burst into tears with happiness and fell to the ground.
Zero was busily finishing off another straggling manslaughter. Already his kill count was around 250. Now it had become 251. He was taking advantage of the bet that Aldran had forgotten about while Aldran was basking in his glory. He knew that the way to win was to get every single one till the end of the mission. Leaving even one behind could be disastrous because of the growth rate of these monsters. Another two-headed manslaughter could be born from negligence.
Not only that, he had gained ten levels through the fights, and he was getting closer and closer to his goals.
There were now only three monsters left. He didn’t see them anywhere nor could he find any. He passed the roaring crowds that surrounded Aldran and Kyo, trying to find them. It was difficult to even use his nose because of the stench of the dead, especially the pungent smell that the manslaughters gave off.
“This is more difficult than I thought,” said Zero. His nose was hurting from the strong smell. Bodies were littered everywhere from players, NPCs, and monsters. It was a graveyard.
“What have you done?” an unknown voice whispered in his ears. Jumping back, Zero and Agnis were both startled by the appearance of an unknown enemy so close to them.
“Zero!” Agnis yelled. Her sword gleamed dangerously under the moonlight. Sparks appeared from clashing metal on metal as Agnis defended both of them in the nick of time and the figure disappeared back into the darkness.
“What have you all done to my children?” An unholy cry rang out across the field. The being appeared and disappeared like wisp of smoke in different locations. “What have you done?” The voice trailed off from one place to another.
The players and NPCs turned their heads in confusion, wondering where it was coming from. Its booming voice echoed into the dark night.
“What have you done to my children?” it cried out in an agonizing voice. A dark gust of wind blew across the field in waves. People stumbled backwards and onto the ground.
“So it’s you!” The voice singled out the KillemAll and Hercules guilds. “It’s you who have done this! I curse you all to fall into eternal slumber!”
A green fog washed over the players. One by one, the people who were invited into a party with KillemAll and Hercules guild members fell to the ground sleeping in stupor. Even the NPCs that were down on the ground fell asleep. No one moved nor woke up. The green smog reached the foot of the city wall. It licked at the walls with ghastly green tendrils but failed to infiltrate the city.
It slowly faded out and disappeared. Complete silence filled the air. Coughing out loud, Zero opened his eyes. What lay before him were players and NPCs alike falling into a deep coma-like sleep.
“Agnis?” he called out while walking through the field, making sure she was okay.
“Yeah?” she replied in between coughs. “What was that?”
“I don’t know, but I think we are in deep trouble,” Zero’s voice whispered while he slinked through the darkness trying not to create noise. He looked for a place to hide. Not too far from him was a tall grassy area that he could hide in.
“What do you mean?” she asked loudly.
“Shh!” Zero walked in and crouched down into the tall grass, hiding their forms.
Agnis covered her mouth and hugged closely to his body. She opened her hands and whispered, “What’s going on?”
“It seems everyone is sleeping.”
“What?” She gasped a bit too loud and then tried to cover her outburst with her hands.
“Listen.” Zero strained his ear and could hear shouting. He slowly began to move towards the direction of the sound.
“Aldran!” Gullifer yelled out, calling for his leader. “Aldran!”
“Quite down, Gullifer. I’m alright.”
“What’s going on? What just happened? Why are we the only ones still standing?”
“I don’t know. It seems everyone is asleep. Even Kyo. This is a predicament.”
Zero peeked out of the tall grass, observing what would happen next. Agnis sat quietly listening in on the conversation.
Thousands of bats flew in and gathered in front of both Aldran and Gullifer, all converging into one. A shadowy humanoid silhouette shimmered into existence. Appearing before them was Dion, with his head held high, his skin milky white, and his black and purple gothic coat fluttering behind him. He was a proud member of the ancient race of vampires. Gone was his clown-like outfit; instead a princely demeanor was in place.
“I see a couple has remained still standing. I am impressed you are able to resist.” Dion floated down onto the ground magically.
“Who are you?” Aldran eyed him warily.
“I am Dion, the father of all these creatures.” Dion’s hands motioned towards all the dead manslaughters. “You and your people have slain my children.” His voice rang with pure malice.
“You attacked us first. We only protected ourselves. Leave. You are not wanted here.” Aldran faced Dion, unafraid of what was going to come next.
Dion threw back his head, laughing.
“Humans. All you do is threaten me with empty words. You have no one here to protect you.” Dion cackled with laughter.
“He has me here,” replied Gullifer. He stepped forward to face Dion with sword drawn.
“You think just two will be enough to defeat me?” Dion grinned from ear to ear. “How typical of you humans. You’re either brave or a fool.” He stepped forwards towards them. With each step he took, he radiated with power. Aldran and Gullifer stepped backwards in unease, but then stopped to stand their ground.
Gullifer rushed forward with his sword drawn. Both contacted at the same time. Aldran sent out his magical attack, and a gryphon-shaped white aura burst forth from his sword and screeched with anger. It slashed towards Dion with power.
“Is that all you’ve got?” Dion swiped Gullifer like it was nothing. Gullifer stumbled forward and was kicked in the back.
“Demonic Pet!” yelled Dion. With a sweeping motion, Dion brought forth an equivalent monstrous creature that clashed with Aldran’s gryphon, each furiously tearing into each other’s throat. Black and white colors swirled angrily, creating a small electric storm around them. In a flash both dispersed into thin air.
“And here I thought you two were special because you survived my lullaby.” Dion’s voice was filled with displeasure. Both Aldran and Gullifer attacked simultaneously, combining their attacks together one after another.
Agnis whispered into Zero’s ears. “We need to help them,” she said worriedly.
“I know. Stay hidden and attack when you have an opening,” Zero replied. Agnis quietly slipped off his back and crouched down, hidden. She carefully pulled out her bow and nocked it, ready to fire.
This might not be a good idea, but what choice do we have? he thought, slinking slowly like a cat through the grass. If we don’t help soon we are all going to be in trouble.
Zero lunged forward with claws outstretched towards Dion. He followed right behind one of Aldran’s magical attacks.
“Another has escaped my power?” Dion said and tured towards Zero and Agnis.
Zero’s sharp claws clanged against Dion’s metal sword. With every ounce of strength Zero pushed hard at Dion, snarling and snapping at his throat. With a powerful gust of wind, Dion pushed Zero back.
At the moment of disengagement between Zero and Dion, Agnis fired magical wind arrows in his direction one after another. Each was coated thickly with wind magic making it speed up faster and faster. But Dion easily sidestepped out of harm’s way, and on the last arrow he grasped one from midair and redirected it toward Zero. Its speed amplified with even more power than before, everything all happening in under a minute.
Shit, Zero thought as he watched the oncoming attack while he was still falling backwards from the blast. It was impossible to move out of harm’s way. He slightly shifted his body in midair, and the arrow took a chunk of his skin. He fell down with a loud thud, unmoving. Dion sent a powerful blast of dark energy towards Zero.
With a loud bang, a black crackling energy rippled through Zero’s body. He screamed out in pain. The electrifying static shock stunned him for a moment.
“Zero!” Agnis screamed in horror. She rushed over to him in worry. Dion appeared before her in a blink of an eye and grabbed her by the throat.
“Kah. You. I remember you.” Dion’s eyes glinted with glee. His mouth curled up to show his pearly white vampire teeth. “You and that pup. No. It seems he has grown.” He stared at Zero lying down on the ground. He sheathed his sword.
Agnis struggled hard in Dion’s grasp, but Dion’s hand clasped down harder and made it very difficult to breathe. Her breath quickened as she gasped, and her magical abilities slipped through her fingers like water.
“I remember now, we were here at the same place, weren’t we?” Dion smiled evilly. “You smell different.” With his free hand he raised a lock of her hair to his nose. He sniffed deeply, inhaling her scent.
“Nostalgia I cannot seem to remember.” He leaned in towards her as his fangs appeared next to her neck. His tongue licked her neck, leaving a bit of saliva. “And an unusual power that I smell.” His eyes brightened in hunger.
“Get off me, you freak!” she gasped in anger. Her right hand came flying to his face, but he blocked her with his free hand. Like a snake he bit down into Agnis’s throat, drawing out red jewel-like blood.
Agnis screamed. Her legs shook and collapsed, unable to hold her body. A soft suckling sound could be heard, and he wrapped her closely into an embrace. Each gulp took more and more of Agnis’s life and vitality. Agnis’s breathe quickened, and her hands shook as she lost her power. Her eyes were slowly closing and her breath was barely audible.
From behind, Aldran slammed into Dion as hard as he could. Dion let go and snarled while pulling out his sword. Agnis collapsed onto the ground next to Zero’s unmoving body. Dion looked down where a small dagger protruded out of his side, piercing his stomach. With a grunt, Dion pulled it out and threw it onto the ground.
“Get back, you vile creature!” yelled Aldran. He took this chance and attacked furiously without any remorse. His sword speed was equivalent to Dion’s attack. Each was on par with the other. The clash of metal rang throughout the area in a chaotic beat.
“Not bad, human.” Dion let out a powerful swing that knocked Aldran onto his back. “I would say your power is one of the rare few that are born once every hundred years.”
Aldran slammed against the ground hard, spewing blood out of his mouth.
“Aldran!” Gullifer ran towards Dion in a mad rush, trying to stop Dion’s next attack. “You bastard!” He swung down unto Dion in an overhead strike.
Dion stopped it with just two of his fingers and broke the sword in half.
“Wha-a-at?” Gullifer stared, stupefied at the outcome.
“Trash should stay where trash should be.” Dion roundhouse kicked him hard against his stomach, sending him flying backward into the city wall a good ten feet away from them. A loud crash was heard as Gullifer was embedded into the wall.
Dion stood still as rock on top of a mound where dead bodies lay out before him. One foot after another, he began to walk down. His sword tip dragged against the ground. Blood dripped off the sword, creating a trail. He walked over to Aldran.
Zero slowly regained consciousness. His vision was hazy and his senses disoriented. He was having a difficult time even moving.
“You. How have you been blessed by power?” Dion stepped forward and stepped on Aldran’s wound.
Aldran cried out in pain. His hands whipped towards Dion’s foot, trying to push it off.
“Did she give you it?” He stepped on Aldran’s shoulder harder.
Aldran’s face contorted. “What are you talking about? What power? I have earned everything by myself,” he yelled back as he tried to push Dion’s foot off his wound.
“Earned? No one is given the gift. You must be chosen. No gift from her is ever given without a price. What have you given up?” Dion leaned forward. Smirking, he searched Aldran’s face. Aldran gazed back vehemently.
“I see.” Dion burst out laughing. “That is what you have given up as the price of power.”
“What do you mean? I have given up nothing,” Aldran spat back.
“How naïve you little humans are.” Dion chuckled. A gust of wind wrapped around him. “All must pay a toll when given the gift. Nothing in life is given freely, and everything is given and taken in equal value.”
“What are you talking about? Tell me!” he shouted.
Dion spaced out for a moment. His eyes glazed over, thinking about what he was going to say, as his lips turned into a snarl. Aldran grabbed a fistful of dirt without Dion noticing.
Dion’s lips curled at the ends. “Wouldn’t you like to know? What would you give up in return to gain more power?” He grinned evilly from ear to ear.
“I have given up nothing.” Aldran spat.
“Oh, but you have.” Dion leaned over to his ear and whispered. “Your humanity.”
At that moment, Aldran threw the dirt into Dion’s face, making him reel back. He shoved Dion’s foot off his shoulder. Dancing around in laughter, even with eyes full of dirt, Dion moved fluidly out of the way.
“You have lost it all. You have lost it all,” Dion sang. “The fool has gone and chased after a dream. He gave himself in exchange for a precious gift. Why would a man do something so foolish without knowing the consequence? Is he so blinded by the joy of receiving and being ahead that he forgets what the world will bring? Or is he just naive and thinking that the world will go in his favor?”
With great effort Aldran got up onto his feet. Dion wiped his eyes and circled Aldran, dancing to his own beat. He left behind ten different afterimages, creating false doppelgangers. His afterimages faded in and out, changing into a creepy clown-like figure.
“The fool has lost his most precious thing for a gift by her. He sings his glory out to the world but has forgotten what he has lost. No more can he go back to what he once was, but moves in rhythm to her beat.”
“Shut up,” Aldran whispered with a difficult voice. His throat was parched, making it hard to speak out loud.
“Oh the poor fool, what have you gotten yourself into?” Dion cackled with laughter. “Oh the poor fool.” His voice faded in and out.
“Shut up!” Aldran yelled. He released a golden glow that brilliantly shone around him, making Dion stumble to the ground.
“Shining Burst!” Aldran exclaimed. He hurled a chain of white light energy balls at Dion. Surrounding him like a python, hundreds of small energy balls appeared before him. Simultaneously they all went off like a bomb.
Large gaping wounds appeared on Dion’s body and he tumbled backwards. A loud electric hissing sound could be heard as Dion’s flesh melted and blood seeped down onto the ground. The ground hungrily soaked up his blood. Aldran rushed forward and attacked brutally, his sword swung towards him. His mind focused on one goal: to destroy.
Dion fended off a majority of Aldran’s strikes, but more than half went through. He was like a comet that cut through the night, dispelling the darkness in its path. Each slice sparked a new light energy ball that he had constantly cast to trap Dion from escaping. Each time Dion had a difficult time dodging out of harm’s way because he had nowhere to go. He was dancing to Aldran’s tunes and ferocity.
With a final downward strike, a large gaping wound appeared across Dion’s chest. Dion yelled in pain and tried to reorient himself. String-like sinews appeared around his bleeding chest, trying to hold it together. Dark magic wrapped around him like a cocoon as he floated in the air in a meditative pose. His eyes closed with his palms together. From the left to the right, zig zagging all over his body, dark sinuous magic wrapped his body tightly likes clothes. He stayed unmoving, where he casted a healing spell healing himself slowly.
Dark electrical sparks held Aldran back when he tried to approach. He covered himself from the electrical sparks before they could harm him.
Finally getting enough energy to stand, Zero made it to his feet. His vision was still foggy and disoriented. He noticed his life points were already halfway gone. At least his side wasn’t punctured with holes. Looking over he noticed that Agnis lay unmoving on the ground.
“Agnis?” Zero walked over and nudged her. “Hey, Agnis?” He pawed her couple of times and he noticed the white hair near her neck was saturated with blood.
Zero was shocked at the two small puncture wounds on her porcelain neck. Zero quickly pulled up his item menu and searched for a possible cure. In it he found the holy water that he had gotten from the church.
A warning message appeared before Zero’s screen.
|Origin form cancellation. You have exceeded the amount of time to stay in your Origin form. You have two transformations left. Cool down time of thirty minutes will go in effect.|
“No. No. No. No!” Zero’s voice filled with panic. This was the worst time for his Origin form to go away, especially when his status was now cut down by half. The chaotic event of the battle had made the time fly. He felt his body shift back into a thirteen-year-old boy, his paws turning into actual hands, his skin stretching, and his face changing to his human form. It was a very unusual feeling, changing from one body to another, and it always felt like a tug-of-war between both forms.
His hands still outstretched on the ground, he was once again back in human form. Luckily he was not naked this time; apparently once he wore clothes, they would magically disappear and reappear between shifting. It was quite a useful skill that he was glad he had. He didn’t want to run around stark naked if he could avoid it.
“Why now?” he whispered under his breath. He was not too keen on losing half his statuses and skills when there was a boss character nearby making fighting even more difficult. Wobbling back on his feet, he stumbled over to Agnis. First getting used to one’s feet was always a pain, but he was more worried that something was not right with her.
Making his way over, he sat down and gently turned her over. Her skin was pale white, and her white hair slid down and revealed the two perfect punctured wounds on her neck. A black smoke-like aura seeped out the holes. There was no time to lose before the curse to take effect and destroy her body.
Quickly skimming through his side pack, he pulled out a small crystal clear vial. It was filled to the brim with holy water that he had personally bought from the Church to use for later. Luckily it did not cost him too much, and now it was worth a try.
Lightly twisting off the cap, Zero slowly poured it over her neck. A loud hissing sound was heard upon the moment of contact. Agnis groaned once. The black aura dissipated and the wounds slowly closed.
I guessed right, he thought. He laid her head back down. She sighed in relief and slept in peace. He wanted to wake her up, but he knew that she might not be able to fight right without recuperating.
He turned around to see Aldran fumbling to get up with his sword in hand. Aldran faltered and fell forward. Zero got up and walked over to his side. He slung Aldran’s arm over his shoulder and hoisted him up.
“You alright?” Zero asked.
“Barely holding. He packs quite a punch.” Aldran chuckled and wheezed heavily. He held down harder onto the sword’s jewel. “Who might you be?”
“The one that you made a bet with.”
“The fox-looking creature?” Aldran asked with surprise. “I didn’t know you were a human.”
“Yeah, it comes with the package. We better figure this out quickly or we’re going to be dead.”
Aldran let go and stood up. “We are completely overpowered. I am not so sure we’ll be able to defeat him,” he said worriedly. “I’m pretty low on magic, you?”
“Same. It seems you were doing well by yourself.” He too was low on magic and health as well.
“I assumed as much.” Aldran scratched his chin. “Look, we still have people in the city. I don’t think the fog has touched them. We can win this with their help.”
“But why aren’t they attacking?” Zero was confused at what they were doing. He wasn’t sure if they were planning to help or if they couldn’t see them far off in the distance.
“They might have thought it’s over. Most of my guild mates are down and even Kyo’s guild too. Other players on the wall are usually low level.” Aldran began walking towards Dion. “Our communication is down and we need to get this bastard now. I’ll hold him back. Find reinforcements!” He sprinted forward with his sword in hand and pulled down the visor on his helmet.
“Go!” shouted Aldran with a commanding voice.
Zero sprinted off towards the gates. He could not climb the wall anymore nor was it a good idea to try. It was a non-stop strenuous run. His heartbeat sped up and his breath became short.
Passing through mounds of dead manslaughters and sleeping players, Zero could not help but be amazed at the amount of power Dion had. The first time he met him he thought he was another weak and useless nobleman. He should have expected something was wrong because he had monsters underneath the castle walls.
As he approached the gates, he noticed a large group of players inside the gates not stepping out. They cautiously tested the air around them to see if something was wrong.
“Is everything alright?” asked one of the players that were hiding behind the gates. A lone brave player stepped out into the field.
“It’s clear!” The player gave a thumbs-up to everyone.
Streams of players and NPCs alike anxiously came out of the gates.
“So much carnage.” A female player glanced around with sadness in her voice. “I wish this had never happened.”
“Did we win?” another asked anxiously.
“No. Check your mission. It states that it is not completed yet. I wonder where the last ones are.”
Zero stepped forward in front of the large group of people, panting heavily. He bent over, trying to catch his breath. The crowd of people stared over curiously. Whispers could be heard amongst them.
“Is he a survivor?”
“He must be strong, right? But he looks so weak.”
“What’s he doing here?”
Zero cleared his throat and stood up straight. He needed their help fast and didn’t have time to answer questions.
With a loud clear voice he called out, “Aldran is in need of assistance now.” People around him burst out with questions.
“What can we do? What does he need help on?”
They clamored and surrounded him from all sides, asking thousands of questions. A short and stocky dwarf pushed his way through.
“Move out the way, Hercules guild member coming through!” the dwarf grumbled. He made it through the thick crowds and stood before Zero.
“I’m Angrist. I am part of the Hercules guild. Where is Aldran?” Angrist asked. “I had to run back into the gates when I saw the green smog coming towards us. Luckily I was near the safety of the gates to make it back just in time before the gates closed.” His clanking armor was decorated with dried blood spots.
“He’s holding off the vampire Dion by himself. He told me to come here and gather more reinforcements,” Zero quickly explained.
“By himself?” Angrist replied with shock. Without any hesitation Angrist turned around and called out in a booming voice, “Spread the word! Aldran is calling for our help! We need people ASAP!”
The people around him hustled and bustled, moving fluidly into action.
“Quickly, take us to him,” Angrist said to Zero.
“Me too!” yelled a female player.
“Me too. He saved me in my dire times.”
Many voices spoke up loudly from the crowd and even more streamed together to go out to help Aldran.
Zero nodded and jogged towards where Aldran was. Hundreds and hundreds of players and NPCs alike followed after him like sheep following their shepherd. He picked up his pace.
“How much further?” Angrist called out between short breaths. His short legs were having a difficult time keeping up.
“We’re almost there.” Zero looked straight ahead, his mind racing to get there as soon as possible. He hated how he was in his weaker form at this moment of crisis. It made fighting a lot more difficult just when he needed to be at his best.
As they approached, Dion stood waiting. His eyes glimmered with excitement at the possibility of annihilating everyone. A wide grin spread from ear to ear, making him look snister.
“Where’s Aldran?” Angrist asked Dion.
Dion snickered and chuckled. “Do you mean him?” He pointed across from him. Aldran lay motionless on the ground.
People gasped from shock at the scene laid out before him. It was a brutal scene of defeat. Aldran’s helm lay cracked open with blood flowing heavily from his head.
“Aldran!” Angrist gasped in shock. He was just about to rush forward, but Zero held up his hands to stop him.
“What are you doing? Move out of the way, kid,” Angrist snapped.
“Not a good time. He’s waiting to pick us off one by one,” Zero whispered closely while holding Angrist back. For a small dwarf, Zero had a bit of difficulties holding him back.
Angrist calmed down and silently mouthed, “Oh.” He impatiently rubbed his fingers across the edge of the axe. “What are we going to do?” he asked with concern.
“We wait for an opportunity.”
Dion paced back and forth like a hungry jaguar. People stepped back with unease. The soldiers that followed along were tense, while the players were still in complete shock. Aldran had fallen and it was very difficult to take in.
“Power and beauty. Bring fear and bring wonder.” Dion raised his head in the air looking up into the sky. His eyes glowed brilliantly red. “Yes. Power brings beauty in the eyes of the people. The awe. The fear. The wonder,” he cooed. His sword soaked with blood glistened underneath the full moon.
Zero warily watched for any unusual activity, ready to spring forward when need be.
“You human species are like that. You hunger for a place of power through money or position. You exchange it without a second thought when you have gained it. It has always been fascinating to watch you over the centuries that I have stayed alive. It just never changes.” Dion put down his hands to his sides.
“What are you talking about? We are not all like that,” said Zero.
“Really? Then why do you all go after the goal to grow more powerful in this world? Do you not aim for power? To become stronger, and to aim for the top?”
Silence followed after.
“We do this to play, to enjoy, and to have fun with one another. To connect with the people who we don’t have a chance of meeting so easily in real life. It is a place to socialize and become a place of being. Even if we have gained power we cannot always live alone,” replied Zero with confidence.
“Ah yes. There is that one as well. The power of the masses. It is a formidable power, but it’s just as easy to break. To turn against itself. Look at the fear in these people’s eyes.” Dion waved his hand across the field where many lay scattered and dead. The residents of Noriene cowered in fear as they huddled together in fright. They could not even pick up their swords to fight back. The intimidation that Dion gave off was in full effect. Even the players were slightly disturbed by this new predicament they were in: a boss monster talking back and acting like a living being.
Dion rubbed his hands together on top of his jeweled sword. He watched his prey out before him like they were dinner.
“My precious foods all laid out for my babies and me to eat.” He licked his lips in hunger once again. The people stepped backwards trying to get away from Dion’s reach.
“But you also know what it means when the masses become one. Don’t you?” Zero replied. Panting with heavy breath, his sword still in hand, he said, “It means it’s your defeat.”
“Defeat?” He burst out laughing. “You jest. My beautiful power against all of you weaklings? It doesn’t compare.”
“If humans are so easily defeated then why have you stayed hidden till now? Wasn’t it your lack of power that took you so long to arrive at this point?” Zero pointed out.
Dion slightly cringed from hearing Zero’s words.
The people listened. Their eyes filled with understanding, their heads cast down in shame. Dion’s black cloak flapped magically in the dark, making him look more intimidating.
“You think we are bugs to fool with under your hands. Have you not killed enough of our daughters, wives, husbands, children, and loved ones?” Zero’s voice filled with righteous anger. “Or you think we are just puppets that follow your tune?”
“Kahaha. You are all my playthings. My toys that I can break at any given time.” He counted each one with his fingers. “You could hear their sweet lullaby of screams at night.”
Dion pointed towards one of the man cowering in fear. “You, I remember you. Your lovely girl was the finest morsel I have ever tasted. The blood of a virgin. Would you like me to tell you more of what had happened during those nights?” Dion grinned evilly from ear to ear. The man’s face was full of complete shock. His hands began to tremble, clenching and unclenching.
“She cried out every night for more. More. More!” Dion barked out loud with laughter, his head thrown back with his hands pushing back his hair. The man’s eyes glazed over into complete emptiness.
“Oh, and you, lovely pet.” Dion disappeared and reappeared towards a young female hidden behind light armored clothes. Her eyes and half her face was showing through. His fingers lightly touching her chin, bringing it up towards his.
“Kah. Regrettably you escaped from my hands. No matter—when this is all over, you will come back to me. Didn’t you know your little brother has been made into one of my finest off springs? Cast your gaze upon him.” He forced her to look towards the manslaughters that were still standing. Her eyes widened in complete horror as tears streamed down her face.
Dion moved through the crowd of thousands and stopped in front of a young male. His armor was loose, making it look too big on him.
“Ah yes. The step-brother, or should I say the lover? Incest? No.” Dion closed his eyes and sniffed around him. “Brother with no blood relations.” His eyes opened and floated backwards. The young male mouthed a slow no hoping Dion wouldn’t say anything more.
“Kehehe. She became food for my babies.” He grinned. With a flick of his cloak he turned away. A gasping cry could be heard as the young male fell to his knees sobbing.
Dion floated over to Zero. “You see, kid, I know every single one of these people’s secrets. You think I won’t know. You make me laugh. Your supposed righteous speech has done nothing for these people. They are too afraid of me. What can one kid do to me?”
Zero smirked. He was not giving up so easily because he could tell that Dion was weakening. The more Dion talked the more he was trying to keep the people from harming him while he recuperated. He could sense that it was all a bluff.
“A lot more than you think.” While Dion had made his petty speeches, Zero had picked up a shield from a fallen warrior and drawn his sword Kamori. “And you have dealt the finishing blow.” He raised the sword and charged. “To arms!” he yelled to the crowd. “He is actually weakened! All his talk is just jest!”
With his Kamori, Zero sliced forward towards Dion’s body. Dion parried it with lightning fast reflexes.
“Kahaha. You worm. Look at the feeble minds of these people. You think they will follow after you? I am more powerful than you or them,” said Dion while they clashed sword to sword.
“You really think so?” Zero side stepped out of the way. A blazing blue magical arrow whizzed past his head and straight at Dion. A blast of wind hit Zero, and he had to keep himself from falling over. Dion did not have a chance to dodge out of harm’s way.
With a thud, the arrow pierced Dion’s shoulder. He faltered backwards, stumbling onto his knees. Two more went flying towards Dion and landed perfectly on his other shoulder and the hand holding the sword. With a clang it fell onto the ground, and he hunched over holding his hands in pain.
“It’s about time, Agnis,” Zero happily called out.
“I was waiting for the right moment.” Agnis was standing a good ways back from Zero. She had hidden in the midst of the crowd. “You took quite a beating over there.” She chuckled and nocked another arrow.
“I wouldn’t have if you would’ve done that sooner,” he said, his voice hardened. He raised the sword in front of him, ready to attack. Striking fast like a snake, Zero snapped forward, hitting his mark and slicing off Dion’s arm.
“You dare!” Dion screamed. He held his stumpy arm. Dion’s eyes grew menacingly black, and his hair changed color to complete white. Power around him swirled in like static electricity.
Zero could feel his hair rising up on end. His instinct screamed to back up before he got the full blast. Already he could feel the draw of power for a powerful attack.
“Everyone hit him before he can attack! He’s weak!” he yelled.
Dion laughed. “You think the puny humans will follow your lead? They’re too afraid!”
Zero looked over his shoulders and saw many people still not moving. Their eyes held no hope and looked away in shame.
“See. You have failed.” He laughed maniacally.
Zero felt disappointed, but it did not stop him. Twirling his blade over his head he slashed forward. Dion blocked his attack and stepped out of the way, but in that instant hundreds of different arrows and spells were launched upon Dion. They all struck him at once together. A loud bang sounded off and smoke filled the air. Zero was surprised at where all the arrows and magic came from. It was none other than the people that were left standing. Each of their eyes filled with resolve.
“Thanks,” the young man who had lost his lover called out to him.
“Thank you!” another shouted out, the lady who had lost her sister.
|With your speech you have influenced the people. Beacon of Hope has temporarily activated upon even the living for the duration of five minutes. People will now look upon you as the light that guides them in dark times and will follow your lead for a short duration of time.|
More and more people yelled out their thanks, and Zero couldn’t help but smile. His heart tingled with warmth.
A blast of power burst forth, and a massive wind blew back the dirt. Zero and the people pulled back, covering their eyes.
Before them Dion was on his knees covered in heavy wounds. One of his eyes was sealed shut and his clothes were torn to shreds. His other hand was still covering his wounded arm. No arrows were still embedded into his skin; instead they were lying all around him.
Panting heavily, Dion faltered trying to get back up on his feet. “You!” He stared evilly at Zero. “You will pay. All of you!” He yelled with such ferocity that people shied away. He pointed with rage.
“Coming together? Bullshit. You all came to gain something: fame, power, revenge, and recognition. But oh no. I will never allow that.” He chuckled then coughed.
“You’re done for,” Zero replied back. He advanced forwards into a run. With a swing of his sword, he impaled him in the stomach. Dion coughed blood, and looked up with a smirk. His body began to melt, turning into red liquid. It dripped onto the ground, sliding off the sword. The liquid burst forth into small red bats that scattered outwards into the sky.
The manslaughters that were remaining attacked and jumped forward into the fight. It was a battlefield between swarms of NPCs and players hacking away at the last remaining monstrosities.
“Shoot it down!” exclaimed Zero. He sliced up into the air. Dozens of red bats fell to the ground as players and NPCs shot towards the flying bats. Even Agnis was pulling one arrow after another, knocking them down. A few escaped into the dark forest.
A message rolled into every player’s view initiating the completion of slaying all the manslaughters in the vicinity.
|Special Hidden Quest Alpha has been updated.
All 9,999 manslaughters have been slain. Dion, the mastermind behind the manslaughter, has appeared. Aldran fought and wounded him to the point of death.An unusual eerie curse is still in effect throughout Noriene. All residents and players are cursed till the source has been eradicated.
Difficulty Level: A
Special Requirements: The Seed Shard quest: Dispersal must be completed. Calling of the top twelve warlords of Noriene must be in the same room and majority must agree on countering the threat against Noriene. Once agreed upon, guilds may form temporary alliances and send out invitations to other players. Players who have watched the meeting have the choice to choose which group they want to join in the duration of the quest. NPCs must also join in on the quest. All requirements also apply to the NPCs.
Defeat: A preemptive attack has been initiated. Defeat the 9,999 manslaughters. Defeat Dion. Defeat the wave of the undead land sharks and the source that brings upon the curse. Must prevent all the residents of each city from being annihilated.
Deadline: 3/4th of the population of each city must survive. The quest must be completed in three days. (half a day remaining)
Reward: One high-level armor from the highest level of monsters that they had killed during the duration of three days for each person. Experience points depend on how much you have contributed.
|For slaying all the manslaughters an extra bonus experience will be given for the duration of the next three hours. Defeating a boss character will not be included.|
|The hidden quest Alpha is still in effect until the completion of the eradication of the curse and the land sharks.|
The thought of gaining more experience points delighted Zero. This was going to help him get to level 150 a lot faster than he’d hoped for.
|Side Quest: Friendly Wager completed.
Zero has won the bet. You have earned 150 gold coins, and the jewel has been sent to you through mail.
Zero excitedly read the message over and over again. He thought he was far behind in the count, but he had surpassed everyone else.
“Great job, Zero,” Agnis called out. She stashed her bow on her back and walked over to Zero. “I didn’t think you will get the most out of us all. You even started late.”
“Yeah.” He fumbled for words but he couldn’t contain his glee.
Dion’s voice boomed loudly. “I’ll get you for this. My darling is almost upon you. You people who had cast us aside. Now you will feel our wrath.” The voice of the Dion echoed.
“Is it over?” a player asked.
“No. He’s not dead,” another stated with worry.
“What are we going to do? How are we supposed to kill someone like that?” asked a soldier who had joined the fight at the last minute.
The people of Noriene turned their heads towards Zero, looking towards him for an answer. His tongue became dry and he didn’t know what to say.
Clearing his throat he stated, “Do not worry, he is wounded. We should split up and go search for the last remaining bats. They can’t have gotten far.” He wasn’t sure how he was going to track the remaining ones, but he needed to quell the hearts of the people. “Let’s move out.”
Zero hoped this would end the life of Dion, but he knew that it might not be likely if he didn’t find him in time.