End Online: Chapter 34

Editors: genericIntent, Jack Vanatis, Scott
Author’s notes: It’s a d-double chapter day. T-the excitement is g-giving me the j-j-jitters!
I had completely forgotten as of late but please take a minute to vote for End Online at TopWebFiction.com! Votes are reset weekly so even if you have voted before, please do so again. As there are two chapters released today, this would be a great way to show your support! ^.^
I am also skipping this chapter plan on my Patreon page. The plan is short and disgraceful. It is also on the same page as the plan for chapter 35. Actually, part of the chapter 34 plan was used in chapter 35 too!
Editor’s notes:

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Chapter 34: Battle for Supremacy Commence

-Lost-

As the moment of teleportation arrives,  a grey fog crackling with lightning surrounds us. Apparently, teleportation is a high-ranking spell and has the flashy graphical effects to go with it.

As fog and an occasional flickering discharge fills my vision, I begin to experience strange sensations all over my body. I feel as if I were falling through the air or beginning to drift off into sleep. The fog disappears as quickly as it appeared. Instead of being surrounded by the desert I was in mere moments ago, everything around me is covered in white. The sudden change in not only location but also temperature causes my pupils to dilate in shock. This is an area I have not been to in a long time: Iceridge.

I had known I would appear here, but even that foreknowledge failed to prepare me for the suddenness of the shift. With me are Verde and Sir Laurence, looking just as perplexed as I am. Fen is here as well, grabbing onto my arm and leaning into me. Frowning at Fen’s calm composure whilst having most of her skin exposed, I wonder if the wolf girl is feeling the cold at all.

Verde hastily changes her equipment to thick clothing under her armour and a cloak over the top to keep herself warm. Sir Laurence remains a mystery as none of us know what he wears beneath his full body suit of shining silver armor. The fact that he wore that in the desert is impressive enough.

‘Come to think of it, she is technically an ice wolf. It wouldn’t be abnormal for her to not feel the cold,’ Verde and Sir Laurence look at me as I silently nod to myself.

“Looks like we are all back where we started,” I cheerfully say, pretending like I wasn’t just nodding to myself in my own little world moments ago.

Verde looks around with nostalgia, “It feels like it has been so long, yet everything is the same as ever.”

We’re in a large square lined with various residences, restaurants, and two inns. Other players who have been teleported back to Iceridge crowd around us. If I recall correctly, there are countless areas just like this one throughout our home city. I suspect that each of them are also all full of players.

Several clumps of snow fall off the roofs as a large gust of freezing wind blows by. One unlucky player is directly beneath some of the falling snow and instantly gets buried. He quickly digs his way out, but still shivers and curses the cold nonetheless.

“NOOO!!”

A loud scream sounds two meters behind me, causing me to visibly jump in fright.

The strangest part of the voice is that it seems so familiar to me. The four of us turn around and see someone who only Fen and I know. It is Mouse. I am initially surprised that he teleported so near to us as we were quite far from Sphinx, but it dawns on me that he was still probably the closest player from the Kingdom of Glace to us.

“Mouse, what’s wrong?” I ask tenderly as I stand next to the crying merchant with Fen looking over my shoulder.

“My wares! They’re all gone!” He screams loud enough to attract the attention of several more players in the area.

“What are you talking about Mouse? How are they gone?”

“I was teleported back to Iceridge, but all my wares for display remained! I’m finished!”

“All of them!? You had all of your goods on display?”

“Course not! It was only 10 percent of my wares. But the loss! Such a loss!!”

My eyes instantly become lifeless while looking at the merchant as I fully realize the situation. He has lost 10 percent of his goods and is only crying over spilt milk, so to speak. However, the scene he creates from such a small loss is the truly tragic thing.

I calmly pat him on the back, wish him the best of luck, and walk back to the party with Fen.

“What was all that about?” Verde asks, still puzzled over the situation.

“It’s nothing. Merely someone making a scene because he lost a few of his toys.”

I can’t help but look back at Mouse, who is currently a mess on the ground. Several people who are still unaware of the situation have taken my place in consoling him; some people even offer him a couple pieces of gold, which he reluctantly accepts.

As we’re putting the scene further behind us, yet another interruption arrives. A player dressed in white and gold runs into the square and rapidly climbs up onto the roof of one of the nearby residences.

“Hey, I know we climbed on the roofs in Grenton, but isn’t it dangerous here with the snow?” I ask Verde and the prince as we watch the player standing up on the roof.

They nod and grunt their approval. Just as we had predicted, his footing slips and he slides completely off the roof. The scene causes laughter to ripple through the crowd wherever it was seen. Even I laugh lightly at seeing the fool fall from the roof in one of the most clichéd scenes of them all.

The player who fell off isn’t discouraged however. I can see him moving to the building next to the previous one and climbing back up. He is a little smarter this time at least, selecting a building with a slightly less steep roof.

Once the player has a firm footing on the roof and isn’t in danger of falling, he raises his voice loud enough that it is heard throughout the stadium, “Everyone! We are currently holding a strategy meeting for the Battle of Supremacy outside the north exit of Iceridge. Please head there to take part in the meeting. Everyone we have spoken with already is there waiting for you to arrive!”

Quite a few shouts and complaints sound from different sections of the square, but when all the other players start heading toward the north gate, those who are dissatisfied with being told what to do are humbled and follow the crowd.

Sir Laurence receives a few lusty stares from female players around due to his exceptional body, which the system basically guarantees is the same in real life. Due to the crowd of interest forming, Fen and I are separated from Verde and Sir Laurence. The crowd loves it when he goes to one knee in front of Verde and calls her ‘my lady’. However, venomous stares are directed at Verde when she kicks the shining knight onto his back and stomps off.

‘I will give them another half hour before they understand that prince’s horrible personality and suddenly distance themselves.’

I once again nod to myself at my prediction.

Interestingly, Verde doesn’t seem to dislike Sir Laurence’s actions at all. Despite the violent and woeful rejections she gives him every time he does something shameless, she still stops and waits for him to catch up. Several times, I notice her pause while walking away from the prince to casually check her nails until he catches up.

Following my prediction, several of the crowd, the males at first and then the females, begin to notice his prejudiced personality and start distancing themselves. This allows the two of them to catch up with Fen and me before we reach the north gate of Iceridge.

Outside the city, players easily numbering in the tens of thousands are grouped without organization and casually chatting amongst themselves. I can hear one conversation nearby in which a player describes all the ways he will ambush the enemy during his assaults. His whole description is overly glorified and something that one of the first people to die usually says.

The four of us mingle amongst the crowd until the people who decided to coordinate the attack and defense for the Kingdom of Glace begin to shout.

“Players of Glace!”

The speaker, a male dressed in ornamental green and gold armor with a large war bow on his back, uses some skill or magic to amplify his voice so everyone in the field can hear it. “I am EyesofHorus, the vice guild leader from Guild Snowdragon, the largest guild in the city of Iceridge!”

I was wondering how these people could become the leading party for such a big event with so few refuting them or vying for power. Guild Snowdragon is possibly the most famous and prestigious guild in Iceridge.

“The Battle for Supremacy is the largest event of End Online to date, and we are the kingdom with the least amount of players! In order to have a fighting chance, we must make up for this disadvantage with tactics! We at Guild Snowdragon have come up with a top class battle tactic that will give us a fighting chance, but we need everyone to work together for it to work!”

Loud cheers arise from the crowd, eager to take part in the battle.

“We will separate into nine groups! Five groups to attack unexpectedly and assault the enemy, four groups to defend our city and crush all invaders! Several of our guild members are going around collecting participant names and assigning you all to groups! Please cooperate with them and join us in victory!”

As the vice guild leader is finishing his speech, I hear another voice nearby which attracts my attention, “…Mortis, Specializing in defense, group seven. SecondGrade, we could use your strength with the sword on the front lines, group two…”

I notice that the voice is slowly getting closer and closer to me. Eventually, I see a player dressed in white and gold which must be Guild Snowdragon’s guild colors.

The player, who has two short daggers equipped and is dressed in light armor finally gets to assigning the players near us. He looks in my direction and his eyes instantly light up. He rapidly finishes assigning the players near him and immediately rushes in my direction.

“Lost! I thought I recognized you!” He exclaims once standing in front of me. I wouldn’t have minded it as much if his announcement of my name hadn’t attracted the attention of everyone in the area.

Excited whispers run through the crowd about me, but they are too quiet for me to hear what they are.

“Ah, there is no need to be so loud,” I try to calm him down, but he is gibbering like a young kid who has had too much sugar.

“What do you mean? You are my idol! After seeing you fight, I practiced training my speed as much as possible and even wield two shortswords, the same as you! Everyone used to believe that a heavy defense was the best way to become strong because you can’t outspeed many enemies in agility or reaction time, but you proved that wrong time and time again.”

He looks me up and down, inspecting the small amount of armor I wear, revealed through the open gap in my cloak.

“Will you have a look at my weapons? Let me know if they are any good! You are currently the founder of the ‘Speed King’ player build.”

‘The ‘Speed King’ player build? What is that?’ I wonder to myself curiously, making a mental note to ask Mason about it later. If anyone would know about it, it would be him.

Without waiting for my opinion, the guild member from Guild Snowdragon holds his weapons in his hands and flicks over the item information window so it appears in front of me. I am actually surprised by this action; I never knew this sort of thing was possible in the game. There is clearly much more to this game than I am aware of.

 

Kodachi of the Flame Fairy King
A short kodachi that was forged by the master smiths of the
Flame Fairy Clan for their king. The greatest fear of the Flame
Fairy Clan was that of ice and water magic. This blade has a 
strong resistance to ice and the ability to cleave through and 
extinguish magic.
The blades are 39cm long. 

Requirements:
~ Level 100
~ Dex 39
~ Mnd 30

Weapon Type: Single Edge/Short Sword
Attack: 58 - 65
Durability: 42/45
Weight: 2.4 lbs

Abilities:
~ +30% Ice element resistance.
~ +30% Water element resistance.
~ Has a 15% chance to dispel magic if used to cut through its source.

The sword is of the ‘Epic’ rarity, and quite a high class one at that. His other sword is also a kodachi, and whilst doing similar damage to the first one, is only of the ‘Unique’ rarity and has less impressive abilities.

“It’s very impressive,” I say to him unsure exactly how to praise him.

I never sought to create a specific style, but apparently someone has tried to work out some formula for my fighting style from all of Mason’s videos. I feel like I should have expected something like this with the amount of people who have come to know me and the even more impressive number of views Mason’s videos have been getting lately.

Sir Laurence suddenly appears next to me, puffing out his chest in pride with a look on his face that seems to say he is at peace with the world. My idolized fan looks at him before suddenly exclaiming, “I know you too! You’re Sir Laurence, one of Lost’s party members: The arrogant one!”

Verde and I burst out in laughter at his so blatantly being called arrogant. The prince himself staggers back a few steps in shock, dropping to his knees and mumbling to himself in self-dialogue, “It appears this world is not yet ready for this noble knight’s sacrifice. I must continue to strive to stand by my values regardless of how others view me.”

‘Hey, what exactly are you doing? You are just going to go along with the insult like that?’ I wonder at Sir Laurence, undecided whether to frown and shake my head or be impressed by his iron determination.

The Guild Snowdragon member looks over Fen and Verde as well with admiration, not a trace of lust in his eyes. His eyes come to rest on our new tattoos used as a guild symbol imitation.

“You’re all in a guild already?” He asks in surprise.

“Sort of. It is more like a guild we formed: The Wanderers,” I rub my chin while trying to predict further questions he may have and how to answer them.

Despite my expectations, he doesn’t ask any further questions, “Such a shame, your party members are all on our guild’s VIP list. I wanted to be the one to invite you to Guild Snowdragon. Anyway, you are all still VIPs for this event, so how about being in group one?”

His offer is interesting, but also somewhat different from what I wanted. Thinking that his guild consider me an important person, I act a little brazenly, “We plan on staying to defend the city. Place us in one of the defensive groups and we are happy to assist you.”

The guild member looks at Verde, Sir Laurence and Fen who is holding onto my arm. Seeing them not refute my decision in the slightest, he seems to look a little helpless.

“But our guild was insistent that if any members from the VIP list was encountered, they are to be grouped together in group one to form a specialist corps for attacking the enemy.”

“If you pretend you didn’t recognize us, then it will not be a problem.”

“O-Only if you show me the stats of the new weapon you got during the Royal Summer Tournament! I remember your attack power skyrocketed when you got that and even your speed increased somewhat.”

He seems so focused on me that he may have forgotten the rest of the world. Someone could casually walk up and stab him in the back and he probably wouldn’t notice it at all. I open up my cloak with my arms, revealing my pure white and glistening silver attire. On my hip are two pitch black daggers. I draw the daggers, whose blades seem to glisten like the night sky and open the item information window.

‘The best strength is the one kept hidden, but my greatest strength is my class skill, not my weapon. One person seeing the stats shouldn’t be a problem,” I find myself rationalizing my actions as I repeat what he did earlier, flicking the screen over so he can view the item information.

The guild member looks at the item information, his mouth opening further and further in shock every second. He reads the information three times before turning to me and exclaiming, “S-scaling weapon. G-g-god class rarity!!?”

His voice is so loud everyone around hears him and turns silent. It is safe to assume that at least a thousand people heard the words, “God class rarity.”

‘I… forgot about that…’ I inwardly curse at forgetting about how high the rarity of my weapon is. I only hope that I don’t become the target of greedy individuals with the aim of killing me until my weapon drops. Well, it can’t drop so hopefully that won’t happen.

“Alright, I-I will place you in group nine, the final line of defense.” The guild member fitfully writes down our names under the group nine section, nervous about being discovered by the guild. “By the way, my name is LostForgotten, please remember it.”

With his parting words, LostForgotten moves elsewhere in the crowd to assign people to different groups. I won’t forget his name, I will never be able to forget the name of the first person I met to have used my name as the base for theirs.

“Lost,” Sir Laurence appears next to me with his usual noble demeanor, “congratulations. You are the first of our party that someone has named themselves after.”

I give him a defeated look, “Please don’t congratulate me. It is embarrassing enough already.”

He simply puts a hand on my shoulder and gives me a broad grin that makes it seem like he is mocking me. Before I can continue further, I notice several people in the crowd are slowly edging closer to us. They don’t look like they have good intentions either.

Verde notices them next, while Sir Laurence remains oblivious until I mention them and recommend we leave the crowd and go back into the city. As we were one of the last groups to exit the city, we aren’t far from the city gates. Once inside, the guards will stop any assaults so we will be safe.

Turning around and ducking my head, I lead the way back to the gates as fast as I can through the enormous crowd. Poking my head up from the crowd momentarily, I can see the pursuers have noticed our movements as well. They are practically barging through the crowd, leaving angry shouts in their wake.

“They’re gaining, push through!” I hiss through my teeth to the others in the party, rushing for the gate as fast as possible.

Just when I think we are clear, a hand casually brushes past my hip and over one of the ‘Twin Nightingales’. It is someone using a thieving skill, and a highly levelled one as well. I snort in laughter at the hand as it attempts to steal my weapon through my cloak. I know all the weapon’s abilities by heart, including the one that bestows the curse of the dragon to anyone attempting to steal it.

Just when the hand is about to close in on the weapon, a pitch black flame appears and engulfs not just that hand but the whole arm. The thief stops in his tracks with a mixture of surprise and disbelief on his face. Clearly this curse will consume the arm entirely, creating a status effect similar to a disabled or severed limb.

The effect will disappear and the arm can be healed, but not until the black flame burning at the missing shoulder vanishes. I would like to know how long this curse lasts, but only the player who is affected will be able to see how long it has left. By the ugly look on his face, I assume it isn’t any time soon.

Everyone else, seeing what happened to the thief, creates some distance between themselves and us. It helps us in reaching the gate faster, but also the other pursuers who are trying to catch us.

“Fen, ice wall behind us!” I order the scantily dressed wolf girl easily keeping pace next to me.

Fen nods slightly, turning around while still running and with the raise of a hand, forms a fifty meter wide, and five meters high wall of solid ice. The two of us could have escaped the pursuers easily with our speed, but Verde and Sir Laurence have little chance of being able to do that.

A wolf whistle comes from the side and I turn my head while drawing weapons. A knot forms in my brow when I see it is just a male player casually gawking at Fen. Now that I am looking for it, I notice a few other people are eyeing her as well.

‘Damn it, are you serious?’ I want to hit them already.

Before the pursuers have a chance to get around, over, or even through the ice wall which many are trying to do, the four of us safely enter the city gate. When the players see this, most lose hope. There are still several others who stare with obvious greed, willing to take the risk of attacking in the city in the hopes they may be able to get my weapon.

I vow to myself never to reveal one of my strengths ever again no matter what.  For now, I can only concentrate on avoiding people grouping up and pointlessly killing me in the futile attempt to claim my weapon. I consider publishing the item information on the internet so they see it cannot be taken by anyone, but instantly decide against it.

There are too many idiots out there who believe the information may have been faked. At the moment the information is only known to about a thousand players from Iceridge. They also shouldn’t spread the information beyond close friends to prevent someone else from claiming the reward. What I need to do is escape Iceridge and all the people who know about the ‘Twin Nightingale’.

“Lost, how are you? I assume you had a strategy meeting for the city, same as us?” Mason’s voice sounds in my head from a private message.

Gently grasping my throat to activate the private message system while walking down a desolate street in Iceridge, I respond to him immediately, “There were a few things that could have gone better! Regardless, I will deal with it. We did indeed have a strategy meeting. We will be defending the city. Yourself?”

“Matrix and I will be defending our city as well! Barely a quarter of our city’s player population to defend, but most of Grenton is surrounded by impenetrable forest so we should be fine.”

“You know, I wouldn’t complain if you just happened to attack one of the guard posts as our offensive is launched on Grenton.”

“Strange, I was about to suggest the exact same thing from my end!”

“It appears that only one of us will be the victor.”

“May the best city win… What’s that Matrix? Their city only has 10 percent of the total player population? I know, their fall will be quick and effortless.”

After taunting us, Mason goes silent. I’m not angry or frustrated in the slightest either. I repeat the conversation back to Verde and Sir Laurence and we all have a friendly laugh about it. Of course, we vow to have Mason and Matrix eating snow the next time we see them.

“Why don’t we go back to the ‘Unknown Goblin Lair’?” I ask all of a sudden, surprising Verde and Sir Laurence.

“Let’s go,” Sir Laurence decides before Verde which is strange. “But I need to go to the church first. There is a skill I want to learn.”

“A skill?”

“Yes, my skills are directly related to the main church. I have unlocked a few that normally aren’t available. Recently I received a notification that the next tier has unlocked, including one skill that I want.”

“That is amazing! I never knew that’s where you got your skills from. Are you a member of the church?”

“I am. After Verde disappeared, I managed to get into the Guardians of Light faction of the main church of the three kingdoms.”

“So that is how you became stronger. I was surprised at the time, but it makes more sense now. What is the skill you want?”

“It is called ‘Self-Sacrifice’. I can actively take a portion of the damage instead of other party members.”

“So you could take some of the damage I normally would. That will be a great help!”

“You can take your own damage!” Sir Laurence declares and looks toward Verde. Anyone can tell that he plans to get the skill and protect her with it in hopes of gaining a more favorable position with her.

I don’t press the matter, I know this man far too well to bother trying, “Okay, okay, let’s go then.”

We change direction and head for the church where players revive. The trip takes about half an hour of walking and the evening sun begins to set by the time we arrive. At least there are no players following me as far as I can tell.

I have a nostalgic feeling while climbing the steps to the church and wonder whatever happened to that aggravating old man. Beyond the steps, we follow Sir Laurence’s lead toward the confession booth that is used to attain new skills. He steps inside and emerges a few minutes later.

What gets my attention is that from the other side of the booth, the priest who gives the skills exits the booth.

‘Hang on, a priest that grants skills…’ Mental cogs begin turning in my mind as I start to understand a greater picture.

As my mood darkens, the priest that steps out is indeed the old man who knocked me unconscious and bestowed the hated ‘Aggravation’ skill on me. The light grey robe, long white hair and even the staff with the amply-sized blue crystal decorating the top. It’s all the exact same as I remember.

Acting reflexively on my feelings toward the old man, I immediately grab five of the throwing knives strapped to my thigh and throw them at him. Three knives fly directly at his torso, while the other two are aimed at his head. The old priest noticed the attack as soon as I sent it, whirling around on one foot and deflecting all the throwing knives with an impressive staff technique.

He glares at me furiously before noticing my equally angry expression and recalling who I am. His fury completely vanishes and he quickly escapes back into the confessional booth, leaving Sir Laurence standing around stupidly.

“You’re not getting away that easily!” I shout as I surge forward as fast as I possibly can.

Thanks to all the boosts and bonuses my speed has reached a frightening level. It takes me a single second to cross the twenty meter distance and arrive in front of the confession booth as the priest’s door clicks shut.

I bang on the door ruthlessly with my fist, “Get the hell out here, you have nowhere else to go!”

From inside the booth is utter silence. After a few minutes of banging on the door, I draw my blades and start hacking at it, leaving deep gouges on the door wherever the knives pass. Sir Laurence attempts to stop me, but one fierce glare is enough to have him halt in his steps.

I eventually manage to break through the door. What is behind it however, rather than a scared old priest, is nothing. An exact mirror image of the other side of the booth where the player usually sits.

‘Damn it, where did he go!?’ I stomp on the ground and make sure there are no trap doors or anything like it, but apparently he simply vanished into thin air.

Sir Laurence and Verde come up to me cautiously, even Fen gives me a curious look, asking what’s wrong.

I begin from the start, relaying how I first logged into End Online and walked out of the church. I explain that I was already in an agitated mood from several real life concerns and ended up in an argument with the guide for new players over choosing a name. It then escalated into assault and I had my player name forcibly chosen and was even imprinted with that ‘Aggravation’ skill.

Verde expresses that she thinks I am still going a bit far, but Sir Laurence secretly sympathizes with me over a private message.

Shortly after, we leave the church and start walk toward the eastern gate. Day turns to night and glimmering street lights begin to light up one after another. The meeting between players about the attack and defense of the kingdom must already be over, as the number of players traversing the city’s streets had exploded exponentially.

Every street has at least one player trying to hawk their goods under a lamp, making the most of the large battle to come. From some of the conversations I overhear while walking, the five assault groups will be leaving tomorrow morning to try and catch Grenton unprepared. I sincerely hope they do catch them by surprise, especially Mason.

At the east gate of Iceridge, we find a small inn out of the way and rent a few rooms for the night.

The system wakes us up at sunrise. Fen is sprawled across me in the clothing we got from ‘Emperor Rahad’s Tomb’. Her slumbering head is bent backwards on my shoulder, exposing two bulging ridges on her chest. I do not wear armor when sleeping either, so the sensation of her breasts pressing against my ribs is extremely potent.

I roll around to try and get up off the bed and end up tangling the two of us together. She awakens from the movement and opens her eyes when our faces are only an inch apart. I stare into her crystal blue eyes, still drowsy. Reflected in her eyes is my completely flushed face. The both of us lie there, not moving when a banging sounds on the door.

“Stop flirting and get up!”

It is Verde that shouts, her voice somewhat hesitant.

Fen’s face in front of me suddenly pouts and becomes something difficult to describe. If I had to put it into a single word: disappointed.

We surprisingly become untangled relatively easy and I get out of the bed, equipping my armor again as I do so. Outside the door are both Verde and Sir Laurence. The former is hesitant while the latter has a look of indifference on his face, but both pairs of eyes shine with curiosity and a myriad of questions.

I hastily leave the hallway with Fen in tow, not giving them the opportunity to ask any questions. Outside the inn, the morning sun slowly melts the thin coating of ice that is covering all the windows. Small fires are burning in the back alleys of the area, players with the ‘Cooking’ skill taking charge of breakfast before the big expedition.

Verde, Sir Laurence, Fen and I hastily leave the city through the east gate before it becomes too congested. I have the nagging feeling that someone is following me, but whenever I turn my head, there is no one there.

Half a day and three hundred wolf corpses later, we arrive at the goblin village amongst a group of hills southeast of Iceridge. I look at the wolf girl, my memory replaying the scene of her ditching me here and leaving me for dead.

From the hills surrounding the village we casually stroll toward the center. Some goblin scouts spot us blatantly walking down the center of the hill and charge to attack us. I see them coming from a distance, but wait for them to get closer before attacking them.

There are two groups of six goblins coming from two different directions.

“Leave this to me,” I pridefully say to the others, charging toward the group that is nearest and throwing all my knives at them.

My throwing knives are actually quite weak by themselves, only made strong by countless damage bonuses from my skills and stats. Against a strong monster they are practically useless, but against these weaklings they do major damage. Two throwing knives are enough to kill a single one of these goblins that we used to have to fight with our lives on the line.

Four of the six goblins in the group are instantly killed from my ranged attack. Like a ghost against the snow, my figure almost flies down the hill at a speed that would leave most people frightened, just before vanishing toward the end and reappearing in the center of the final two goblins, one blade cutting through each of their necks.

I have long since mastered the speed which even my senses can’t keep up with. Rather than trying to control every action, I predetermine my route, where I want to start and where to stop moving. This allows me to move at a speed others can’t react to, but also limits me to linear movements.

I use this speed to appear in the center of the second group of goblins like a spectre. I first use the sacred art ‘Triple Stab’, my blade glowing brightly as it leaves three puncture wounds in one of the goblins. The attack had so much power that not only did it kill the weak monster in an instant, but pierced through and killed the goblin behind it as well.

I follow up with the sacred art ‘CrossX’ on the next nearest goblin, sending it flying with a giant red ‘X’ on the torso that nearly quartered its body. The final three are killed with normal attacks, my body seemingly disappearing in the face of their attacks yet appearing to deal fatal thrusts and slashes. The goblins are constantly chasing after images until they are all dead.

The entire battle against the twelve goblins took me about twenty seconds. It was over before it even began.

“Congratulations,” Verde claps unenthusiastically at me bullying the weak monsters.

I ignore Verde’s sarcasm and reflect on how much stronger I have become since leaving Iceridge. The difference is leaps and bounds beyond what I thought it would be.

Sir Laurence, Verde and Fen join in as we quickly enter the hidden goblin village and eradicate all the goblins within. Despite the massive difference in strength, all the goblins still recklessly charge at us. Of course, with my class skill causing an intimidation effect and over half the goblins within its range, the majority of them attempt to overwhelm me with numbers.

With the village clear, we descend the crevice in the middle of the settlement and enter the dungeon below.

Entering ‘Unknown Goblin Lair’

Having not been in this dungeon for so long along with the fact that none of us have the ‘Cartography’ skill, we end up becoming lost on the first floor of the dungeon. Nothing in this dungeon can prove a threat to us so it becomes a task of navigating the maze.

Three hours pass and we finally uncover the enormous shaft that leads toward the second level. On the second level, we have more luck than on the first and find the passage to the third floor with relative ease.

From the entrance of the third floor, it is only a matter of time before we find the final boss room. We find several areas we didn’t the first time through here, but we eventually reach it. Once we arrive at the boss room, I am a little disappointed.

I can see the chest in the center of the room is open, unlike last time when it was closed. I still walk into the room regardless, hoping that the boss is still alive. The four of us stand in the middle of the circular room and inspect the walls for the goblin boss or any goblin minions waiting to emerge.

A few standard goblins emerge from the walls, which are easily taken care of by Fen, but the goblin boss does not appear.

Just as I suspected, someone had already killed the boss and it has yet to respawn. I try to think of who would have killed it and my first thought is Chronix and his guild, Swords of Light. It can’t possibly be him; he has appeared all over the continent and attacked me every time he does. Therefore he has moved on from Iceridge and toward bigger and better things.

‘No, he got teleported back to Iceridge the same as the rest of us. But would he come back to this dungeon? By now there are bound to be others who have discovered this dungeon,’ I wonder to myself helplessly and don’t realize Verde and Sir Laurence are talking to me.

“Lost!” Verde waves her hand in front of my face, her voice considerably irritated. “Let’s go, this wasn’t as interesting as I thought it would be.”

“Ah, sorry. Yeah, let’s go.”

I continue to think to myself as we track back through the dungeon and emerge in the goblin village. We walk toward the top of one of the hills to get a better bearing when another player appears on the top. I look at the person twice, not believing what I am seeing.

“Verde,” I whisper to the girl next to me equally as shocked as I am, “things just got interesting.”

“Yeah, I think we should run away again. Just like last time,” she whispers back to me, staring straight at the man in golden armour casually looking down on us from the top of the hill.

“Definitely; on three?”

“How many times have I told you that my skill lets me hear what you are whispering about to yourself? You give away your plans just by speaking them. Why haven’t you figured out to just use party chat?” Chronix stares at us in disbelief, drawing his sword and waving it in a few circles above his head.

With his signal sent, about a hundred players emerge from the other hills and surround us.

“You think I didn’t learn from the last time you escaped?” Chronix looks down on us with scorn, already believing he has won. “These people are all elites. I have also gotten considerably stronger since you left Swordbreak and went to the City of Sphinx. I have waited very patiently for this moment.”

Seeing all the people surrounding us, I decide to become serious, “You already killed me once, isn’t that enough?”

“Apparently not. I plan to kill you today, and keep killing you until I am satisfied. That wolf girl too. She escaped once before, but it won’t happen today.”

The group surrounding us are all equipped with top tier armor. There is no way we can fight them head on. They also plan on specifically targeting Fen and myself, which is the worst possible situation.

“Fen, listen to me. You grab Sir Laurence, break through the formation and escape. I will grab Verde and be right behind you. Run as fast as possible.”

Fen looks at me with disapproval and refuses to do it initially, but after pressing the matter she eventually nods her head in resignation. Chronix frowns as I make the plans. I know he can hear my plan as I speak of it, but what can he do about it?

After saying the word “go”, Fen almost becomes a shadow, sending tens of blunt ice bolts at several people in the line to break them apart as she grabs Sir Laurence before charging at them. I am right behind her, scooping up a surprised and struggling Verde and running behind Fen. Carrying someone drastically reduces our speed, but it is still explosive enough to escape the other players if we can emerge from this encirclement.

Three players are taken by surprise and get knocked away by the blunt ice bolts, which opens a hole in their formation. Just before we can get through, another player suddenly steps into the empty spot of the encirclement with an enormous plated shield as tall as he is. This must be one of the defensive specialist players who protect the parties from boss attacks.

His shield glows red like blood and gives off a faint mist. The position of my real body is revealed in this mist and when Fen sends several more ice bolts, they are weakened by the mist and easily blocked. Fen and I enter the outskirts of the mist which causes the air to become thick and difficult to move in, further halving our speed.

We both crash into the enormous shield, which absorbs the shock of the collision before pushing back. The four of us fly through the air and crash back to the center of the encirclement. While I was in the air, I noticed that there were several more people with enormous shields just outside the encirclement, ready to replace any fallen members.

I rapidly cast and throw dire flame fireballs at the encirclement when I think I see those defensive players waiting to replace anyone necessary. Thirteen players end up affected by the dire flame after effects, but the damage is too little to prove a threat to these high levelled players. Each will take at least several hours to die.

“Fen, ice shields. Sir Laurence, use whatever shield that was you used against the Kraken on the ocean,” I shout the orders immediately as my mana runs out.

Fen is the first to respond, raising her hands and summoning an opaque three-layered ice barrier fifty meters wide and twenty meters high to block out Chronix and the other players. Sir Laurence slams his shield into the ground shortly after and that familiar box formed by the shield sigils covers and further protects us.

“With this, we should be safe for a while,” I sigh in relief looking at Verde and Sir Laurence who are still frowning at me.

“You could have given us some warning.” I don’t know whether Verde is angry or upset as she pouts.

Before I get the chance to reply, a loud laughter reverberates within the ice dome from some sort of skill or spell to transmit voice, “Lost, did you honestly think something a weak as this would stop me? Do it.”

At the end of his speech, he appears to speak with someone else. The other person’s voice enters the dome with the same method as Chronix’s, possibly because it is a transmission spell that is still active.

The voice is quiet, I can tell it is a male voice, but not what the words are. Sir Laurence’s face visibly pales when he tries to make out what the voice is saying.

His voice is wavering in complete shock as he says, “They’re chanting a top tier scroll, Heavenly Dispelling. This is bad!”

“How bad?”

“Very! Not only will it dispel all these shields, but it will put them on a cooldown for the next hour. This is a ridiculously expensive scroll, and they are using it on us. How did you piss them off this much, Lost?”

“I didn’t do anything! Well, not much… I think.”

I seem to recall all the times I have escaped Chronix or killed him and feel like this is my fault. Just as my worries are at their peak, the voice finishes chanting.

As a transparent shockwave of white light washes past everything, Chronix’s voice echoes in the dome again with a lunatic laughter, “I know all about you and your team, Lost! I have thought of every possibility and have more than enough strength to overwhelm you! You’re trapped Lost, just give… What the hell? Why didn’t it work?”

The white light passes over Sir Laurence’s shield and instantly dispels it like it was a wisp of smoke. What doesn’t make sense, and also apparently has everyone befuddled, Chronix included, is that Fen’s triple layered ice shield remains unscathed.

“Sir Laurence, you said this was a high quality dispelling skill?” I ask the prince as we both stare at Fen, not sure how to comprehend her shield still remaining after ‘Heavenly Dispelling’ was cast.

“Not just high quality, it is at the very top. There isn’t a stronger dispel than ‘Heavenly Dispelling’.”

“Yet the ice shield was unaffected. Any ideas?”

“None.”

Chronix’s spell is also still operating, his voice entering the dome as he sends orders to all the players encircling the shield, “Draw your weapons and break through it! Anyone with fire magic, use that! Where are the people Lost set on fire? They are basically human torches for melting ice!”

‘Sorry Chronix, the dire flames aren’t very hot,’ I hold back laughter at Chronix’s currently hopeless situation.

Chronix had thought he was prepared for everything and killing me would be just like following a script. But Fen’s ice shield had proven to be much more difficult to deal with than he anticipated. Well, honestly I am equally surprised.

I can hear the sounds of weapons and spells crashing heavily onto the outside of the barrier, but there are no cracks or signs that they are about to break through.

“Focus your attacks on one location!” Chronix’s voice echoes through the dome, followed by what sounds like voices further away asking for what locations.

Shortly after Chronix’s last order, the sound of the players trying to break through is concentrated on six locations throughout the dome. They are equally separated but there is a large enough gap in between to escape through.

“Fen, can you open a small door in the barrier while leaving the barrier?” I suddenly have an idea for escape.

Fen simply nods her head in response, “…Yes.”

Excited, I turn to Verde and Sir Laurence and gesture toward the back of the dome in good humor, “Ladies and gentlemen, if you will turn your attention to that section of the wall, we will shortly be escaping this current bombardment and reaching safety.”

When they look at me confused, I clear my throat and explain my plans, “Fen and I will carry you both so we can escape as quickly as possible. Fen will create an opening in the barrier for us but we have to quickly get out and get as far away as possible before they notice us.”

Verde and Sir Laurence look at each other indecisively. I am certain they are currently concerned with being carried to safety, Sir Laurence more so than Verde. They eventually agree, considering it is the only escape we have. I have them take off any armor and just wear plain clothing to reduce as much weight as possible.

Sir Laurence’s complaints instantly stop when he is picked up by the beautiful and immodestly dressed Fen, though. I know he knows better than to make a move on Fen, but I sincerely hope he isn’t stupid enough to try it anyway.

I pick up the blushing Verde with a princess cradle again and follow Fen in charging at the rear of the dome. One of Fen’s feet stomps on the ground when we are near and a full door sized block of ice soundlessly splits out from the barrier and collapses inwards.

There is absolutely no one outside where we escape and we successfully break the encirclement. We run for a couple of minutes without being bothered by Chronix.

“Lost! Be careful, there are arrows coming from behind!” Verde warns while looking over my shoulder.

I twist my neck so I can see the arrows, but only view a couple out of the corner of my eye. All I can do is run as fast as I possibly can.

I’ve outrun the players, but this volley of arrows is inescapable. Dozens of arrows rain down on us, three landing as hits and taking me down to half health while a fourth hits Verde.

Furious shouts sound from the hills behind us as we finally reach the outskirts of the forest and quickly disappear within. Fen and I let Verde and Sir Laurence onto their two feet now that we’re beyond danger.

“How the hell does he keep finding us?” I scour my mind for answers but come up empty.

Sir Laurence gives it some thought before answering with one of his more serious answers, “Normally I would suggest a spy, but considering the high class scroll he wasted on something so trivial, he probably burns through location scrolls like there is no tomorrow. We also all transported back to Iceridge, making it easier to track us down.”

“Yes, I suppose that’s true.”

Silently, we begin walking through the trees until night is upon us.

“It’s late in the real world and despite sleeping in the game, I am still weary. I will be logging off to rest,” Verde informs everyone, preparing to log off.

Just as I am about to do the same, an idea comes to mind, “I also need a break. I was thinking, we still have a while before any fighting to defend the city happens and we are trying to dodge Chronix, how about we don’t log in tomorrow and meet up in real life like we were talking about?”

Sir Laurence agrees without complaint, but Verde gives it a lot of thought, trying to work out the solution to some problem, “Tomorrow? Yes, I think I can do that! Where shall we meet? We were meeting in downtown because Lost can’t travel too far, right?”

We stay online for another hour before we decide where to meet. Fen looks at us sourly as we discuss meeting in real life where she cannot go. She remains in a bad mood and ignores me until we log out, where after she traps me in my locker unable to log out for another hour before I convince her that what she is doing is wrong and she needs to not do it.

Outside of virtual reality, the thought of meeting everyone in real life makes me incredibly nervous and unable to sleep. I eventually fall into a slumber, but I know I will awaken extremely tired with a lack of sleep.

***************************************************

-Chronix-

I am sitting in the grand conference chamber of the Swords of Light guild in Iceridge. Tapestries and paintings hang on the wall; each and every one of them is new. The solid wood table in the center of the room is the same as usual, but the twelve people sitting around it are not the same people that previously did.

The Swords of Light guild has had massive changes based on my decisions. All the previous members have long since been expelled and replaced with new players. The entire line up of our guild is new, as is our new general purpose. These new players are all a part of the new Swords of Light guild because they are players who share the same thoughts. Of course, those thoughts are in regard to Lost and his party.

Looking at the first seat on the right hand side of the table, I glare at a man with long brown hair and the looks of a woman. He wears light armor and wields two short swords. He said this is the new Speed King player build that is supposed to be becoming more popular lately.

“What the hell was that? Do you realize how much I paid for the ‘Heavenly Dispelling’ scroll?” I shout at the player I had cast the spell, still unsure as to what went wrong.

“It should have dispelled it but it completely ignored the barrier. The only possible explanation is that barrier wasn’t actually a spell but instead a part of the environment.”

“What the hell do you mean a part of the environment? We’ve all studied Mason’s videos profusely; we know all of their strengths and weaknesses. Fen, that wolf girl, or whatever she is, summons ice and uses it to attack and defend. We have a large list of all the types of attacks and defenses she uses.”

“Yes, but that barrier must have been different. What if she in fact just raised the ice from beneath the ground and let it settle there. We can’t dispel the environment.”

“That was a triple layered barrier of hard packed ice that even high intensity flame magic could not melt. She also created a door in it which they used to escape from. It can’t be that.”

“I’m sorry, that’s the only explanation any of us can come up with.”

“I recorded the battle, everyone, study this recording and learn from it. We don’t want to mess up again, understood?”

“Understood!”

Using a projector that can only be bought for a guild with real life money, I project the battle onto the far wall of the grand conference room. The battle does not last for a long time, but is replayed frequently, especially at the point where the ice barrier is formed. Yet no matter how much we study it, we can’t figure out the secret to it. The only solution for quickly breaking it we have, is to lure a boss monster to instantly crush it.

“Guild leader, what about our spy? Could he discover the secret of this?” A female member with long blonde hair in a ponytail hanging over one shoulder and the freckled face of someone from the country asks curiously.

“It’s possible, but we don’t want to make them too suspicious. I will pass on that if he can find out it will be best, but not to press too hard for information.”

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22 Comments

      1. But yea. No idea who it actually is. It being one of the brothers just seems wrong tho. Because the spy was once a member of Chronix’s guild and got kicked out and allowed to return only if they spy… I don’t see one of the brothers being able to hide that from the other. They would surely know

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    1. It’s got to be Mouse! He always pops up out of no where, and surprises Lost. How was he able to cross the continent much quicker than Lost’s group? It’s very possible that he’s the person Lost keeps “sensing”

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  1. I have always felt that it was Mouse after Mouse popped up in Grenton. Personally, I think Lost should just Dire Flame the Guild Hall for the Swords of Light, and stand by on other buildings to use Burn Remedies on them to prevent them from burning down… That’s what I would do in his situation.

    Personally, I think Mouse has always been a bit too chummy with Lost… Can’t wait to see them meet up IRL.. They should have also contacted Mason and Matrix and tried to get them to meet up too, in my opinion.

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        1. Yeah, I mean cummon lost, you should have been on the attacking team. Dire flame us way better for city wide devastation. Also, lost needs a serious upgrade in defensive power soon, he is way to squishy.

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  2. Hey, quick question, is Lost able to follow more than one religion at a time?

    Also, are you ever planning on letting lost learn any spells? With all the perks he got from Grael, he actually has a decent amount of mana.

    And are you able to have more than one class skill at a time, like, for example if lost fulfilled all the requirements needed to gain the thief skill, would he be able to have that as well?

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  3. Can a player really just murder a NPC character in a city? It seems like the guards should have tried to stop Lost from attacking the priest.

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    1. Yeah, good question. What happens when you cast an unstoppable destroying spell on that which cannot be destroyed? Well, given that the flame can be stopped with a burn salve, and the sword durability is hard coded into the game, I’d say the flame would skid off the sword, land on the ground, and keep burning there.

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  4. There are now a bunch of people, who are on fire, running about through the woods. Here’s what I think will happen…

    The woods start on fire in multiple places and start burning outward. Animals and creatures flee. An approaching army gets close. Suddenly massive waves of creatures fall on the army, rending, shredding, the army is decimated. Then the army sees the approaching fire. Turns out the creatures just wanted to run through the army. The army arrives at the kingdom and the tiniest kingdom defenders are able to destroy the (originally much larger) enemy army.

    LOST ends up receiving credit for starting the fire and helping his side win.

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  5. Meatbun Delivery~
    Thank you for the chapter 😁

    What?!! Fen carries Prince?! This is outrageous! Meatbun vote to expell him from the knight brotherhood!
    But thats a really effective way to shut him up i guess.. lol

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