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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 5:18 am 
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Joined: Wed Sep 26, 2012 4:26 pm
Posts: 29
Location: Victoria, Australia
“Okay… let’s see what we’ve got here…” Noel rummaged through the starter pack for The World, wondering what else was inside. There was very little he could actually pill out on the train without making more mess that was worth cleaning, and he didn’t particularly want to lose any parts. It seemed to come with a custom game pad, a visor, the game, instruction manual, and collector box. The box itself probably wasn’t much of a collector’s item due to it being the standard casing for the game, but he was pleased with what he got all the same. With the disk in the computer now whirring, Noel sat back with a coffee in hand, watching the progress meter slowly fill, then deplete, then fill again as it loaded each individual portion of the game. Soon enough, the game itself was finished installing, which left the patching section of the game left to complete. While that was pottering along at its own pace, Noel tried on the visor, or what was referred to as the Head Mount Display, or HMD for short. It was a snug fit, but wasn’t too large or too small. He figured that it was mean to stay in place so that whatever purpose it served was maintained accurately.

Setting it aside for now, he plugged in the game pad and adjusted a few settings on his computer so they were ready for play. Thankfully, his internet connection was fairly strong today, which considering temperamental internet, was a godsend for an online game. His mouse hovered over the ‘play’ button for only a second before he pressed down, decisively, and proceeded to put the HMD over his head. Thankfully, while the patching process was underway, the character creation segment was still active. So, with character already made, and pre-loaded onto The World, Noel commenced play as the Twin Blade, Maoh.

~The Son of a Goddess~
Mac Anu
Δ Server


Through the screen of the visor, Noel was able to see through the eyes of his own avatar and into the world that stretched before him. He patted himself down, checking through his inventory, current gear and his current skills before taking a look at the town proper. It was a waterfront town, or at least a town built around a big river running through. From the looks of things, it was the main hub of the game, or at least highly visited. It could’ve been for a few reasons, including but not limited to people meeting up with lower levelled friends, and tormenting newer players. He put his index finger across his chin as he pondered further, staring off into space and quite possibly getting in the way. Taking a few steps forward, he figured he’d better investigate the town at least a little bit, to understand what people were referring to. A group of his friends had only recently started new characters, so they were talking about Mac Anu at club the last time he was in attendance. He eventually made his way over to the bridge and decided to peer over the edge. The water was a nice blue, clean, and otherwise unpolluted. He half expected it to be considering the sheer amount of people traffic that the server was surely used to, but the water was appearing pure all the same. Leaving a hand on the railing, he looked around and spotted a group of players nearby, chatting and having fun.

Upon closer inspection, it looked as though they were berating a member of their group, but they seemed to be taking it in their stride. Noel moved on, heading back over to where he started to where a slowly rotating disk sat isolated from the stores in town. People seemed to be going up to it, doing something, and disappearing. He thought back to the manual he was reading on the train and made the connection: this must be the Chaos Gate. Basically, the Chaos Gate acted as, as its name suggested, a gateway to various parts of the game, be it other servers or the maps in which you encountered monsters or alike. The manual also included a few really basic ones to get players started, which is helpful, but they also strongly recommended mixing and matching as you pleased to make your experience truly unique. Considering it was a feature, it was probably something that should be tested, that way he would have something interesting to talk about with the rest of the group the next time he saw them. Noel flicked through the keywords that contributed to the parameters of the field he would visit. Not really knowing what each thing meant just yet, he picked ones that sounded interesting and went with that.

Raising his hand upwards like a few of the others around him, he stated firmly; “Δ: Discovered Eternal Hypha!” In a flash he was off. The loading screen seemed to be something similar to what a rainbow would throw up, and then accelerate at a blinding speed to wash out a good portion of its colour. After a couple of seconds looking at blinding colours, Noel appeared in the field he had chosen. Before him was a verdant grassland that looked like it had been surviving through the summer. Patches here and there were off colour, or browned due to the heat, and tree cover seemed scarce, but still existent. It was a pleasant afternoon, nearly on the brink of sunset, so the sky was a blanket of ambers to pinks and then indigo on the opposite horizon. The hilly landscape made it hard to see where anything was, so is first instinct was to get somewhere higher and survey the ley of the land. Off in the distance there was a stone structure, which he could only assume was his ultimate destination, at least for this field. Across the field there were swirling disks of gold energy, enemy portals, spaced by erratic amounts with a few between him and the dungeon entrance. With a deep breath, he jogged over to the first one, looking up at it. As he approached, it began to pulse.

Dropping his hands to his sides, he grabbed his weapons, gleaming blades of red and gold, and braced himself for impact. The first fight in his character’s life was going to set the mood for the rest of it. Not as dramatic as it was meant to be, but it was going to be the main learning session on how the game mechanics worked. The portal shrunk down and formed into a small, long-eared creature with skin of blue and holding a sword. Noel eased up a little, thinking to himself if this was all that was going to come forth. The creature before him let out a small cackle and charged, brandishing its sword wildly in the air. Startled, Noel dropped his weapon and was left with only the one, falling backwards as the Goblin swiped at him, narrowly missing. Noel struggled to remember what it was that he had seen in his skill list only minutes ago, not sure what was what. Choosing blindly and aiming, he let loose a spell. A vortex of green energy whirled and whorled forth from his hand, picking up leaves and debris from the ground and pelting the Goblin with it. Relatively unfazed, the Goblin lashed out and smacked Noel with his sword, taking off a portion of his total health, but reeling from the effects of the spell.

Using his chance, Noel scrambled over to his missing weapon, ducking down and picking it up. Now fully armed once more, Noel turned to the Goblin and readied himself. The Goblin, being only a meek level one monster, charged again, oblivious to its depleted reserved of energy. Noel decided to try something else, remembering a combat skill in his list as opposed to a spell. Digging his feet into the ground, he sped up, knocking the Goblin’s sword out of the way, swiping at the Goblin only to miss once, twice, but on the third strike it hit its mark and sent the poor thing tumbling backwards. Keeping the pressure on, Noel jumped and raised both weapons up, striking downwards into a kneeling position and plunging his weapons into the Goblin’s chest, leaving the thing bleeding and dead on the ground. Wiping his brow, Noel rose, looking around. It was eerily quiet, and half expected the exchange to wake something up. Finding nothing, he continued on to the next portal, waking it up in the same way he did the first.

This time, the portal pulsed and spat out a set of swords that hovered in the air a few feet off the ground, and another Goblin. Not exactly sure of how to deal with the phantom weapon, his attention was turned to the Goblin first as they both charged. Stepping off to the side caused the floating swords to knock into the Goblin, making it stumble forwards from the momentum; which was then knocked backwards by a well-placed cut vertically up its face, followed by a sidewards swipe which only grazed the flesh. The swords came in next, cutting downwards but finding nothing but blades barring their path, but broke through the guard and sent the Twin Blade reeling. Picking himself up he parried an oncoming attack and rolled away from another, kicking up with his feet to land upright on the recovery. Without thinking twice, he took the hit to his magic to cast another spell, letting the wind pick up organic waste from the ground and pelting the pair of monsters with it. Throwing one of his weapons at the Goblin to finish it off, Noel leapt out of the way, firing another spell to hit the Disco Knife, uncertain that he could take it in melee combat just yet. Standing in the wake of the fallen enemies, Noel decided that it was time for the dungeon; he had had enough practise for now, it was time to move on and experience more.

Running right past the other gate and not waiting for it to spawn monsters, Noel ran down into the dungeon and stopped just inside once he was certain that he was no longer being followed. It was a ruin of sorts, stone built into the dirt walls of whatever it was he was standing in. Being a level one dungeon, it shouldn’t be much different from the battles on the surface. Pressing on, the first room contained very little, the second, even less. Without a map to really go off, he cursed the fact he had neglected to look into getting any items to really help him through this. Moving forward, the next room contained a monster portal, which spat out another Goblin. The pacing in this game was slow, although for that he was thankful, all things considering. Dispatching that with a Saber Dance followed by kicking it into the nearest wall was sufficient to allow passage into the next room. The dungeon went on for a while, very little in the way of monsters and scenery that didn’t change all that much, either. Perhaps the combination of words wasn’t the best choice, but at least this route was fairly scenic. He was surely another level stronger by now. He’d killed what, a bunch of flying swords and a handful of goblins? Reaching the end of the dungeon yielded very little. There was a box sitting in front of a large ornate statue, which was supposedly his prize. The chest was also apparently loadbearing on the statue, for when it was opened, the statue fell over.

Making his way back to Mac Anu, Noel wondered what he should do next. All things considering, he should probably stock up on some items so that navigation and survivability were made easier. Other than that, he figured that a lot of the game would be grinding out levels in dungeons and hunting for more gear. The other parts of classic games he was used to, such as quests and alike seemed to elude his current position in the game, but perhaps it would come later. All the exploits his friends talked about seemed so interesting, but at the moment, he wasn’t sure what the hype was about. He decided to stock up on some basic items, listening to the NPCs for advice on what to take with him. It wasn’t long before he was all stocked up, and a lot more adequately prepared for what was to come next. He figured he could give the keyword game another go, or just pick something from the booklet, but he just wasn’t certain of what would come about whatever it was that he picked.

As he was making his way back over to the Chaos Gate, a group of players nearby were discussing something, talking in raised voices, possibly from all the excitement. There were a few frustrated faces in the small group, but it wasn’t caused out of sheer anger, merely disappointment. He’d seen this thing before, too; it was refreshing knowing that so many things he had seen in game were just like the outside world. It was almost a little disappointing knowing that at first glance, there wasn’t much to be gained from playing this game outside having fun and enjoying it as a game. That being said, it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing to do just that; after all, it was a game. Upon listening in, the players were talking about a specific field that they had been told about on the BBS; the main gaming board similar to a forum in which players can talk to one another and discuss various parts of the game. Apparently, the field had some kind of challenge that was too hard to complete for low levelled characters, but he had noticed a distinct lack of anyone mentioning dying, so he was curious to see if it was just some tough monsters or something else. They didn’t mention the field specifically, so if he wanted to look further, he’d have to visit the BBS.

Taking a small break from the game, Noel logged out and got himself a snack. Coming back and settling down in his chair, he flicked through the posts, trying to find what could be so interesting for lower levelled players. There were the usual, expected posts of players ranting about certain monsters being way too strong, and certain classes being so much better than others; but a lot of these, in Noel’s opinion, were stemming from players who had little self-esteem or people who had egos the size of zeppelins. Soon enough, he stumbled across what was likely to be the cause of the commotion. A small post listed by the GMs running the game, possibly posing as a creature for the sake of an event. The gimmick was a game of tag supposedly, but only against a Goblin. He wondered what could possibly be so hard about it; he had killed those before. A part of him knew that there was going to be something different about this goblin, but he wouldn’t know what until actually heading into the map and assessing the situation for himself. He put the HMD back onto his head and logged back in, touching back down into Mac Anu, spinning quickly on his heel and facing the Chaos Gate. “Δ: Detestable Golden Sunny Demon!”

A familiar spray of coloured splashed across his display, loading in the area. This time, the field he was in was a little arid, and the soil seemed dry and coarse. The sun belt down on them, and the glare was almost distracting, as waves of heat pulsed down, distorting the landscape in the distance with a melting sway. Before him stood a Goblin, picking his teeth with his sword, noticing him after a few seconds and introducing himself. “Have you come to play, gob? I bet you can’t catch me, gob!” Before Noel could even utter a word, he sped off, leaving the poor Twin Blade behind in a small cloud of dust. Not sure of what to do, Noel decided to give chase, running after the goblin. There were times that he thought he was getting close, but right as he was about to make contact, Stehoney would just slip right out from underneath him, leaving him behind. So the gimmick of the level was clearly to chase down and defeat the goblin. However, the goblin moved much faster than what a character normally could, so there had to be some trick to it. “What’s wrong, gob? Tired already, gob? Ha!”

Stehoney ran off into the distance and out of sight, causing Noel to just sigh out of frustration. He returned to Mac Anu for now, to see if there was anything he had overlooked in the way of items. The first port of call was the ‘Magickery’, a store for all things magical. Hopefully something there would be of use, be it some kind of potion or scroll or some other third thing which he had yet to discover. The store had shelves upon shelves of magical supplies; tendrils of coloured smoke rose from the surface of viscous liquids and alike sitting in cauldrons about the place. He thought of incense, the heady aroma that saturated the senses, and clouded the mind of all that was reasonable. He was undecided; did he want to go the full assault road and melt him down before he ran away, or play this smart and pull out something sneaky? As he was puzzling the whole thing over, someone else entered the store, the bell at the door ringing to give that sense of realism. The NPC acting as the store owner came out from the back room and welcomed the new player. Noel watched him carefully, watching what he did in case he tipped anything off. As if knowing he was being watched, he turned to face Noel. “Is zere something vrong, comrade?”

Noel fumbled the potion he was holding, dropping it and then picking it back up to replace on the shelf. The player that spoke had a thick, gravelly accent, and imagined that he probably hailed from Russia. The surprising thing wasn’t that he was from Russia, or appeared to be; after all, he was Australian and it was common practise to play on the North American servers purely due to the population. What was surprising that he had confronted him so suddenly. Noel looked at the player, large axe on his back and instinctively double checked to see if he was armed. The other player laughed heartily as Noel’s fingertips brushed against his blades. Noel flinched, realising what he was doing and placed his hands elsewhere as the player came over, looking at what Noel was playing with. ”You must be new, zese items are…” He trailed off, rolling his eyes and rolling his wrist around as if to dismiss them casualy. ”Zey are no good. Is good for ze running but is no good for ze fighting.” He suddenly got really loud, roudy, as he went into a long speech about how important it was to fight life’s problems head on and be all… strong.

Noel took the opportunity to pay for a few things and leave the store before the Heavy Axe noticed he was gone. Thankfully, another player had entered and had acted as a distraction for him to slip away. He jogged to the Chaos Gate, flicking through his menu to find the field keywords to take him back to the goblin. Then the colours came back; oh how he was thankful that he didn’t have any form of epilepsy. Touching back down in the field alerted Stehoney to his presence. “You’re back, gob? Thought you’d give it another try?” The goblin was lounging on a rock on his side, peering down at the Twin Blade with sword in hand. Noel nodded, expression determined, and perhaps the faintest bit fierce. Stehoney jumped down, scratched the back of his head and stretched a little. Meanwhile, Noel had already pulled out something that he had purchased from the store; a handy little item that would increase his movement speed. If the Heavy Axe was true in that they were good for running away, then surely their application could be used to chase down someone getting away, too. He crushed the capsule in his hand as Stehoney made to get away, and dashed off after him, keeping pace. Surprised with how fast the Twin Blade was now moving, he figured that he had caught on. “Hey, gob! So you discovered Speed Charms, right? Too bad that’s not going to be enough, gob!”

Noel, a little confused about his statement considering so far, he had been gaining ground, soon came to realise what the goblin meant as Stehoney kicked up dust into his face to prevent him from seeing for a brief while. Noel came to a halt, unsure of what to do. There was clearly more to this than met the eye, and a simple trick like that wasn’t going to work. Stehoney was now a fair way away and had appeared to have stopped. Noel looked around to see what he could use to make this a little easier, but nothing seemed to stick out. Looking at what he had in his inventory, he had very little to work with too; with only one extra Speed Charm, and a few other odds and ends, he wasn’t faring too well. Stehoney at this point got bored and just decided to wander around, but kept watch on Noel just in case he tried anything. Giving up, Noel backed off to Mac Anu to figure out what he could do in the meantime. Maybe it was better to be resigned to grind up a few levels in dungeons first, learn some more skills, and then take on Stehoney again. After all, he had just started playing. Turning on his heel to face the Chaos Gate, thought back to the manual, thinking about what the booklet had said about starting areas, and which ones would be best for newer players. Deciding on another basic field until he got used to the combat controls, he stated his desired destination. “Δ: Bursting Passed Over Aqua Field!”

What Noel was treated to was a verdant field, sunshine pouring down and an array of trees and flowers scattered about the place to give an extra depth of colour. It screamed newbie friendly, and that made him a little happier, at least for the time being. Across the field, he could see the gold portals littered about, each one housing monsters for him to slay. Stepping forward, he approached the closest one, weapons drawn, bracing himself for what was to come. In the span of a few seconds, Goblins were upon him. Brandishing various kinds of rusty weaponry, they charged and made for the Twin Blade, outnumbering him. Noel was not deterred, digging his feet into the ground he pushed off, lunging forward and swiping across at the closest Goblin, and spinning on the balls of his feet to parry an oncoming attack. The goblin he had just struck had come back and countered, knocking the Twin Blade forward, causing him to stumble.

Noel spun around, blades gleaming as he delivered a series of six light hitting blows against the one who had just hit him in kind. Using the momentum of Tiger Claws, Noel rolled forward to dodge the remaining goblin, before lunging at it and knocking it out with a firm smack with the cross-guard of his weapon. A few new players ran past him and into the dungeon. Watching them go by, he gave the unconscious goblin a firm boot to the skull to silence it before moving on. They were going to beat him to the treasure at this rate, so he had a decision to make. Would he make it a race for the treasure, or back out and let them have it. The Speed Charm in his hand had apparently made the decision for him; he hadn’t even realised he had pulled it out. Competitive streak flaring to life, he crushed the capsule in his hand, wind kicking up underneath him to make the ends of his robe rear up and coil slightly like flaming tentacles. He pushed off, running towards the spot on the horizon where he could see the dungeon and the new players entering. Skidding to a halt just before the door, he looked back at the field, realising that he was giving up fighting monsters to level up to get some treasure from an area which probably yielded very little. Why that may have been the case, he still descended down into the dungeon regardless.

By the time he had entered the dungeon, the other party had moved on, leaving the room facing him empty. At the rate they were going, they could kill faster than he could alone, but considering that they had to keep stopping, he would undoubtedly catch up. Pressing on, he came upon another room, this one with nothing more than jars and a few crates. Untouched; they had not come this way. Leaving the room and continuing his search down the corridor, he checked the next room, finding more of the same. The next room was more enticing however. It was a large, cavernous room with recent signs of battle. He was catching up, but they were still ahead. On he went, finding that the next room held what he was looking for. The door to the room on the other side opened, letting them through, but closed soon behind. He groaned out of irritation, but approached it and looked around. A monster portal made itself known and swirled violently; spawning down a monster he hadn’t seen before. Before Noel now stood a monster of a feminine form, wielding a partisan and protected by magenta armour. Without so much as a word of warning, she turned and sped towards the Twin Blade, pole-arm held forward and ready to skewer the intended target.

Taking a cautious step back, Noel readied his blades. The soldier thrust forward and up, bringing the tip of her spear around behind her head for a follow up cut coming in diagonally. Crossing blades and holding them up resulted in a parry, but turned into a grapple for power. Noel was locked down, and the Cadet Valkyrie currently had the upper hand in the form of leverage. The Valkyrie withdrew from the strike and skewered Noel through, taking off a big chunk of his HP before wrenching the weapon out from the Twin Blade. Being a class meant to deal damage and not really for tanking the damage as much as other classes, the loss came at both a shock and was alarming to see his vitality take a plunge. Instinctively he touched the place where the spear had struck, checking for blood or some kind of hole. Being none, he got his head together and readied himself for another exchange. Another incoming attack from the left; parried. A solid swing from the right; parried. He wasn’t gaining any ground, and neither was the Valkyrie he was facing. Noel couldn’t afford another critical hit like that. Maybe it was just lucky shot, but he couldn’t take the risk lest it set him back.

“Repth!” In a bloom of light, Noel healed himself back up to full, and just before the Valkyrie swiped across his chest, grazing his avatar and taking off a small portion of HP. He was only missing a small portion now, which was much more preferable to being a fair chunk down. As the Valkyrie came around to attack again, Noel blocked the oncoming weapon with one blade, running up the length of the pole-arm with it and striking with the other. One firm smack and the Valkyrie tried to withdraw to bring the fighting distance in her favour; only to have Noel bring his weapon down on her weapon again to trap it in close distance. A second, third, and fourth were quickly delivered to finish off his Saber Dance, immediately using Tiger Claws to leave the Valkyrie a bloody mess on the floor. Its body faded away, leaving behind nothing but tendrils of data in its wake, allowing the door to open. He had lost time, the other party was bound to be ahead at this stage and he had ground he needed to cover.

He spun on his heel, keeping blades drawn and dashing through the door. He entered the next room. The room was empty, aside from a few pots. Stairs leading down were before him, and so he ran down those, leaving the pots behind. “Faster…” he thought to himself, a voice inside himself was driving him forward, urging him to go faster. He was only a newbie, so chances of actually pulling this off was slim to none, but it was if an instinct left dormant for the longest of times had come to the surface. The next room was recently cleared out; it appeared as though the party ahead of him was having some trouble, or at least running into some tougher monsters. The next room was bare, but he could see them entering the next room; he had caught up.

He stopped just before the door to the next room, staring ahead into the dark doorway leading into the next room. He had his weapons at the ready, what little gear he did have was ready, and as far as he could tell, optimal. He strode into the next room, expression blank, focused, looking around for who he was hunting. Inside the room, the party was fighting off Swordmanoids; from the looks of things, four had been spawned as it was one of the later parts of the dungeon. They were struggling, indicative that they were not very good at the game. He fixed his hood, making sure that it was up and covering some of his face from view. It would be less of a bother if his identity was obscured. The fact that his clothes were distinctive enough was another issue, and one he didn’t pay mind to, already caught up in the moment. One of them had their HP drop, causing some panic amongst the party, unsure of what to do. ”This’ll be a slaughter.” He pushed off, gripping the blade in his right hand and made a beeline for the Wavemaster in their group. For a moment, he thought the party believed he was another monster they hadn’t noticed before, but he didn’t get to continue that thought for much longer.

His blade gleamed with black energy, striking the Wavemaster where it hurt and silencing him cold. He was thankful that he had picked up the pair of Slayers in the store; the added Death effect seemed like it would come in handy, and it was already starting to pay off. The remaining Blademaster and Long Arm shouted in protest and worry as their source of healing had been cut off. They both charged, causing Noel to brace himself by taking a step back. Two against one wasn’t going to be a simple task, but at least it wasn’t three against one. The Blademaster leapt up, sword raised and came crashing down at the spot where Noel was only moments ago, a swift movement to the side causing his opponent’s aim to be off. The Long Arm didn’t seem to know what they were doing either, and was just randomly jabbing in the air, hoping to get a lucky shot in at the Twin Blade. Noel parried an oncoming thrust into the path of the Blademaster, catching him off guard and forcing him to back off lest he get hit by his teammate. He backed up a little more, giving himself more room to work with. The Blademaster hadn’t seemed to have healed back up after engaging the Swordmanoids, so he figured that it would be best to deal with him quicker so the odds were evened up. Blades lit up in a scarlet aura, churning, burning, and left ghostly apparitions in the form of red streaks in the air every time they moved. With a simple command, that energy manifested itself as a group of fiery orbs that honed in and struck down the Blademaster.

The Long Arm was bewildered that the party was being wiped, and it had only just sunk in that this wasn’t a monster they were fighting. The ghosts of his friends were cheering him on as pale, translucent ghosts that floated there, unable to act until revived. Noel’s weapon shone again, that black gleam wanting to find its target and strike them down much like it did with the Wavemaster. Alas, the strike was off its mark and the Long Arm dodged, the blade narrowly missing the targeted mid-section. The attack was pressed; swipe after swipe kept the Long Arm on the back foot, but each attack was either parried or dodged in some form, only serving to increase Noel’s frustration. Noel brought his weapon around again, striking three times and missing every shot, except for the last shot which was a well-placed uppercut, sending the Long Arm reeling. SP was effectively gone, what little reserves he had couldn’t be utilised for anything useful. He got greedy, swinging and chipping off the Long Arm’s HP while they were struggling on what to do to end the battle; but he forgot to account for the Long Arm having superior range.

A solid smack knocked Noel off the ground, and the follow-up drove him back down into it. His HP was a mess, but he got up and kept fighting. The Long Arm, finding renewed confidence started the assault, striking with a lot more fervor than before. Noel began to worry, he’d look foolish if he were to die right now, and he’d come so close to achieving the task he had set himself. The Long Arm swung their spear around in a slicing motion, before bringing it overhead to chop down. Noel stepped to the side, narrowly avoiding it but taking the chance to dash into close range where the spear was near useless. He got in two good hits before he was pushed away, more of his HP being lost to the spear. He reached for a Health Drink, knocking it back and replenishing his HP reserves, ducking out of the way to avoid another shot to the head. As the spear moved overhead, the Twin Blade reared his weapon back, gleaming with the same black as before and plunged his weapon into his opponent’s chest, bringing his other one straight up for a decisive uppercut.

He looked down at his defeated foe as his body faded away; the voices of his ghostly allies now silent. Noel was breathing heavily, blood rushing, and he felt alive. He put his weapons away, looking around. The air was still, calming, as if something had washed over the place in the absence of the other players. A part of him was conflicted due to the actions he had just taken. He had killed other players, so why was there a refreshing calm rather than a solemn sadness? He shook it off, the thrill was now over so he needed to continue on and get out of here lest they come back and exact revenge. The next room contained the Gott, a statue that acted as a marker for the end of the dungeon, and watched over the treasure that lay before him. Taking the contents for himself yielded more for a single player than what the other three would have had to share between them. Treasure obtained and the dungeon otherwise cleared, it was time to leave. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a Sprite Ocarina before using it. The item allowed a quick exit from the dungeon and into the field and once there he returned to Mac Anu.

He decided to log off for now. It was now late afternoon, meaning that he had been playing for a few solid hours and was now behind on chores. Chores at this hour was more preparing a meal or just making sure the place was tidy but they were things that needed to be done regardless. Noel set down his gamepad and HMD pushing away from his desk on his swivel chair. The gave the HMD a quick look before spinning around, getting up, and making his way towards the kitchen. It was one of those nights he felt like being a cheapskate and grabbed a packet of instant noodles from the pantry. As they sat with hot water to rehydrate them, Noel began to reflect on the day. Being a public holiday, or at least a pseudo one, most things weren’t open unless they were things that were very, very popular. The store he worked at was only semi-popular with the people that lived in the area, so he was given the day off; the joys of management wanting to cut costs by understaffing the place. Tomorrow was Saturday, and the following day was naturally Sunday. Ahead of him were another couple of days where he could get stuck into the game and hopefully get some more experience under his belt.

His phone rang, bringing him back to reality. It was sitting on the counter and making the annoying, almost grinding sound that comes from it vibrating against the marble surface. He picked it up, looking at whom was calling before answering. He rested the phone against the side of his face, speaking calmly. “Hey, Jess. What’s up?” The person on the other end of the phone was a girl who he had come to know through her visits to the store. She worked in a café near the store where he worked, and was training to be a chocolatier. Being a fellow confectioner, it was normal for her to run past ideas or get him to taste test new creations just so she had a point of reference to bounce ideas past. He had done the same in the past, but while her store was a café where patrons came in and gave regular feedback, his storefront was half performance art and half catering for high end functions that needed candy. What that meant though was that most of his artistry was structured and done to a plan already, giving exactly what the customer has asked for, compared to surprising them with a few new things every visit.

_________________
Maoh l Lvl. 32 l EXP: 0/1000 l HP: 495/??? l SP: 140/???
GP: 31,541


Last edited by Bane on Wed Nov 07, 2012 9:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 11:23 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 26, 2012 4:26 pm
Posts: 29
Location: Victoria, Australia
Jess seemed excited, immediately kicking off the conversation with talk about her day and what the store was like today. Being a more popular store, she was required to work but did so at penalty rates, meaning the pay she got was even more enticing to not call in sick. She spoke for a while, with Noel making small affirmative sounds to reassure he was still on the other end of the line while he fixed up his noodles. She was planning on popping around over the weekend with her new experiments to get some feedback, assuming that Noel didn’t have any plans. Sure enough, he didn’t aside from playing The World so the plan was formed to come around at lunch time tomorrow. She ended the conversation with a cheery farewell and he hung up the phone.

His noodles were done so he sat down on the sofa, flicking on the television. The news was on, so he figured at the very least he’d find out what the forecast for the weekend was.

”…Will make a speedy recovery over the next couple of days. In other news, reports of internet terrorism have elevated today with the collapse of several more victims to this mysterious cause-and-effect that’s affecting all those who play The World. The new victims were found all in the same room, reportedly all playing The World. Police refused to comment further, and parents of the victims refused to be interviewed. We would like to remind everyone that having proper protection against hackers and keeping your passwords safe are your best defense against this terror…”

Noel frowned, switching the channel. These reports came one a couple of times in a week. Not necessarily reporting new comatose victims, but more to make sure that everyone is doing what they can to defend themselves against cyber-crime. A long time ago, the focus was more to prevent thefts and false identities, but people were way more convinced now that it was an act of violence, war, or some other third thing that caused them to target players in The World. Surely it was just a co-incidence; there’s no way someone could be affected that way by playing a video game. He pondered further, concluding that it was possible if they had epilepsy, but he was only half certain of that possibility anyway.

A smirk crept across his face. The media was used to sensationalizing things. It was only when things were dire were they completely serious, but perhaps it was the content that just made the whole ordeal something hard to take seriously. It was about as serious as the cartoon currently on television, in reality. After watching TV, and factoring he had to deal with the leftovers from dinner, it was only just before 7pm. As the clock ticked over, Noel got up and made his way back over to his computer and sat down, fondling the controller sitting on his desk. There was plenty of time left in the afternoon, so he could afford to play a little longer. He still had to have a shower and get ready for bed, but that was a few hours away now. Putting the HMD on his head, he booted up The World and logged back in, picking up where he left off. Considering the time, most of the players on his server would be heading to bed. Granted, with midnight gaming being something fairly normal amongst the more hardcore gamers, he figured that server population would be around the mid-range, meaning there’d be more people to hunt if he wished, but more people to socialize with, also.

Stepping foot in Mac Anu, Noel looked around for any familiar faces. There were a fair few people still online, but there was no on familiar. For the briefest of moments, he was a little concerned about running into the group of players he had encountered and then suffering revenge in the middle of town. He took the first few steps cautiously, then composed himself and carried on as per normal. The sky in Mac Anu reflected how late is was, now being a starry canopy draped overhead. Street lights were on to help alleviate the darkness that was brought about by the night simulation, making the place seem very warm whilst being closer to midnight. As he was staring up at the stars, he thought he saw a shadow move high up above. He peered up at the sky, skeptical; was it just a trick of the light? Seeing nothing further, he continued into the center of town, stopping on the bridge and leaning against the railing, just enjoying the view. The lights of the city drowned out the stars above, leaving the sky mostly black with minimal cloud cover.

Here was different. The sky was clear, and seemed to ignore the light pollution coming from the street lamps as stars littered the night sky like fireflies swarming high above. As time rolled on, more and more people logged off, until there were only the dribs and drabs left lingering while they sorted out items. He'd been standing in the middle of town now for a good half hour, just people watching and wondering what he could try next. The game against Stehoney was still outstanding, but he figured that a few more levels under his belt was probably the smarter thing to do before attempting that again. Before he knew it, the server population dropped to the point where everyone that was conforming to regular American time was in bed, leaving him alone in Mac Anu when the last few people entered a field.

The isolation and eerie quietness of the area made the hair on the back of his neck stand on end. It was a little bit of a wake-up call to how lonely it is to be surrounded by nothing more than programmed entities who said the same line of dialogue over and over. As if to relieve him of his loneliness, a loud cry echoed through the town. It came from above, or was it below? The sound echoed so much that its origin was hard to locate, setting Noel on edge. His hands reached for his weapons and he grasped them tightly. It sounded again, but closer; he braced himself for impact.

When nothing happened, and the echo faded to silence once more, he eased up. A large form crashed down on the other end of the bridge, its hulking form blocking the wide clearance of the bridge. It cried again, although due to proximity it sounded more like a roar. Plumage came into view, and all Noel could utter was, “Is that... a bird?” The bird charged, gnashing its large beak towards the Twin Blade, causing him to back up immediately. He turned tail and ran towards the back of the town. With the Chaos Gate blocked off, he had little means to escape to a field. He could have easily logged off and be done with it, but the small amount of curiosity he had drove him onwards, wanting to find out the purpose of the creature and hopefully put an end to it.

He dug his foot into the ground, turning on the balls of his feet with weapons ready, facing down the creature before him. It reared up and plunged its beak down, causing Noel to leap out of the way, form glowing with a red aura. As the words few from his mouth, fireballs materialized above the bird and rained down of it, the sheer size of the beast ensuring a hit. The only down side was that the bird seemed to shrug it off as if it were rain, and continued the assault. It thrashed and knocked Noel into a building causing a fair chunk of his HP to disappear. He turned down a side alley, the clearance of which being far too narrow for the bird to get into.

He made a run for it and heard the bird take off. The beating of wings along with the sound of his breath was all he could hear as he ran. It had turned into a game of cat and mouse from the looks of things. It perched on the rooftops, peering down into the crack where Noel had disappeared and snapped at him, sticking its beak into the gap. Noel swore and ducked, dropping to his hands and knees to avoid being clipped. He risked looking ahead and the bird was trying to fit one of its talons into the gap to swipe, hoping to get the reach it needed. Moving from running to scrambling along on his hands and knees, Noel continued onward, ducking behind dumpsters and alike to avoid getting hit. The alley took a sharp turn to the right, causing Noel to do the same. In the corner, the bird shuffled around too much and got its foot stuck, squawking loudly in frustration. The Twin Blade took the opportunity to make a run for it, jumping up onto his feet and making a break for the end of the alley.

Coming out in another part of the root town, Noel looked around. Mac Anu was bigger than he gave it credit for and looked for a place to hide. He could hear something crumbling, and then soon after, breaking, as the bird pulled itself free. Noel made a break for another alley but found it was fenced off. The only other avenue of escape was on the other side of the bird, leaving him trapped. He backed up on instinct, and flinched when he felt the wall against his back. He looked around desperately for some form of escape before he spotted it. It was a manhole on the ground, covered by a lid similar to those seen in the cartoons. It was a long shot, but if he was trying to survive he may as well try it. He put his weapons away, needing both hands free for this; and aimed. Again, fireballs rained down on the bird, and in its brief distraction, Noel ran to the manhole, desperately trying to lift it.

It wouldn't budge. He looked over his shoulder to see where the bird was and sure enough, the distraction coming from the fireballs had worn of by this stage. It was coming for him, and it was pissed. Noel tried the manhole again; it budged, but only slightly. A small glimmer of hope was granted, and he pushed onwards; but the manhole moved no more. He saw a clawed talon wrap around his mid-section and clamp down, locking him in place and wrenching him away from the manhole. With a sudden motion, the bird slammed down, head-butting Noel and ridding him of the rest of his HP. The game over screen flashed before him.

Noel was in awe, and to a lesser extent, shock. What was that monster that attacked him? More importantly, why was the monster attacking the root town? It was interesting, or at least in a way fun. A part of him wanted to log back in and go another round, but he was of no match. He figured he'd post about it on the BBS to see if anyone had any more info.

Quote:
Poster: Maoh
Subject: Event Monster

Big bird thing appeared in Mac Anu last night. Anyone have any idea as to why or how? Does this game have special event monster appearances?



He left it there and decided to call it a night. Noel logged off, removing his HMD and setting it aside on the desk next to his controller. Noel wandered around the apartment before preparing for bed and then finally wound up there. Dreams consisting of fire, birds, and for some reason pirates flooded and washed away any other thoughts that tried to enter the mind. There was a subconscious thought that he'd see Jess tomorrow, which was going to be pleasant. Nothing beyond the ordinary occurred in the time he was asleep, and sure enough, the morning approached and arrived after hours of rest.

He got up the next morning at 10am. Noel got up and readied himself for the day; this consisted of having a light meal and changing out of his pyjamas into more suitable clothes. He made himself a coffee and sat down at his computer, completing the usual ritual. First to check the weather report online, then his email inbox, followed by other miscellaneous social media sites that his friendship group had talked him into making an account on. Dicking around on the internet brought nothing of interest to light, so he moved on to playing The World for a little bit before Jess arrived. He recalled the bird from the night before and decided to check the BBS to see if anyone had replied to his post. The thread had a few replies, but nothing too special. There was the usual comments on being a newbie and making stuff up, to others taking a more serious tone and explaining various things about events in The World's past. The thread was locked now, however; the last post being made by a Game Master claiming that it was possibly a glitch in the system and will be looked into. As if on cue, a Flashmail came in as soon as he finished reading.

Quote:
To: Maoh
Sender: Gallus
Subject: None

I know the bird you're talking about. If you want to know more, come to Θ: Ancient Mad Jack's Forest Haven



A player was calling him out to a field to talk about a bird? The thing stunk of a trap; if they wanted to talk, why not in the root town? It was suspicious, and with no one to really call on for help at the moment, it wasn't really something he wished to do on his own. It was at that moment he heard the doorbell ring. Checking the time, it was still a while off before Jess was meant to arrive, but she could've just been running early. Setting aside the gaming gear, Noel got up and wandered over to the door and opened it. Sure enough, there stood Jess, a few inches shorter than he was, and with a beaming smile on her face. Without speaking a word, Noel stepped aside and she strode in as she normally would, before giving him the traditional hug before her gear was set down in the kitchen. ”You look well, I take it the morning's been good to you?”
She replied merrily, looking over her shoulder to him while she fixed a few things with what she brought with a smile. ”Oh, you know, I've only had the time to wake up; I bet you've only been up for a couple of hours.” The look on Noel's face confirmed it, giving Jess the excuse to laugh in a manner that clearly expressed her pride in insight.
Noel took his place on a bar stool on the other side of the kitchen bench, watching Jess work with his face cupped in his palmed, sleepy expression clearly evident. With a sudden clatter, Jess put a plate in front of him with an ornate cake she had made. From the looks of things, it was in the shape of various pig-looking animals that were in various types of costumes. His puzzled expression must have been noticeable, as with a worried tone, Jess asked, “Don't you like it?”
Noel blinked, coming to his senses and looking at her directly, puzzled expression now half forced to get his point across. ”Uhh... well... It looks...” He looked down at the cake again, examining it further. He noticed that they were all arranged in and around a Chaos Gate iced onto the surface of the cake. He decided to take a stab in the dark, not exactly knowing what they were, but hoping that at least getting a close guess was going to win him back some points. ”They... They're deformed Goblins?”
He knew he was wrong. The immediate look of frustrated disappointment on Jess's face knew he had hit a nerve. He knew what he was looking at was good, he just didn't know what it was. That being said, she was quite an artisan when it came to cake decorating; he was certain that she had mentioned winning a competition for it at some point. She puffed out her cheeks and put her hands on her hips, causing Noel to sit up and back away from the counter as much as he could without falling off of his stool. ”They're not goblins! They're Gunties!” She then proceeded to go into a tirade about how they were different and cute and that everyone knew what a Grunty was. Noel thought back; a vague recollection of someone saying the name once bounded into his memory. Anything specific eluded him however, so he was forced to ask if they were related to The World.
Jess was shocked. She composed herself and brought out some pictures from her bag and slid them across the counter towards Noel, hoping that something would jog his memory. The pictures were of what seemed to be animals of some description, looking like the horrific love-child of a pig and a cow. She had added annotations to the sides of the pictures, noting key features such as what texture certain materials were possibly made out of, and what colors would come out best. There was a progression of pictures showing a Grunty in its different forms as it grew older, and then in varying costumes for whatever purpose.

Noel picked up one of the sheets and looked at the different costumes, looking them each over in turn. ”So you can raise these in the game? What do they do?” Jess off handedly said it was more just an extra that the game had built in for the times that you didn't want to go into a field, and sometimes they gave you items. She dismissed any other questions he had so she could serve him some of her cake. They had cake and tea, talking about things in general and catching up on stuff that had happened since they had last spoken. The cake was delicious and moist, although she seemed apprehensive to let him dismember one of the marzipan Grunties from on top of the cake. They shared stories and recipes well into the afternoon before Jess had to go home. She thanked him for a fun day and left, leaving Noel to his own devices.

Noel's mind was full of thoughts involving Grunties and other nonsense that Jess had brought up. He didn't have to be up early the next day, so if he really wanted, he could easily stay up late tonight and play more of The World. Being only a low leveled player still bothered him, and he was gradually accumulating things to do within the game. Considering the topic of goblins came up early, as unfortunate as that was, Noel decided to try beating Stehoney to at least eliminate that task off of his growing list of chores.

”You're back, gob! I was wondering where you had gotten to, gob!” Stehoney leapt up, weapon already drawn. Noel drew his and the goblin before him nodded knowingly. ”Well, gob, you know the drill! Come and get me!” Off he ran into the distance, not bothering to check to see how far behind he had left the player. Noel surveyed around, looking for anything he could use to slow down Stehoney. He flicked through his inventory to double check what he had to work with and got an idea. He pulled out from his pocket a Fortune Wire and tied it to the base of a nearby tree. Grabbing hold of the other end, Noel looked for a nearby rock or something similar and found the remnants of what appeared to be a fence. Pulling the wire taut, the Twin Blade created a trip wire and backed off, admiring his work. All that was left was to get the goblin to run right into it. It was going to be fiddly, but with enough time, he thought it might just work.

He crushed a Speed Charm in his palm and was off, under the effects of Ap Do. The goblin was only a little ways off, and seemed to go from an idle walk to more of a sprint as Noel gained on him. Stehoney took sharp turns to try and throw him off, slow him down, or otherwise just get him to trip over. Sadly, Noel was prepared for this given the past two encounters with Stehoney and was keeping pace relatively well. Eventually, Stehoney resigned to the fact that turning was also slowing him down, and if he just went straight, he could keep the player just far enough away to avoid being hit. But in doing so, he was occasionally looking over his shoulder to double check distance as opposed to watching where he was going. Noel smirked; he had herded him right into the path of the tripwire, and he was oblivious to its existence.

Stehoney tripped over the trap, stumbled, then skid along the ground on his jaw, feet leaving the ground for a solid couple of seconds. With Noel right behind him, it was no surprise that the Twin Blade was upon him so quickly, and within seconds after the goblin falling over, Noel was perched over the goblin's body, blade at his throat. Stehoney gulped, looking down at the weapon drawn and held against his neck, and then up to where he could see the silhouette of his opponent looming over him. Noel chuckled in a single breath, making something comparable to a humoured affirmation than an actual laugh. ”Tag.” Without any further warning, he plunged his other weapon into the back of the goblin's skull, while the other was drawn across his neck to slit his throat.

Stehoney slumped on the ground, dead, before fading away. Noel stood up, flicking the blood off of his weapon and putting them away. Just as he did so however, Stehoney's dismembered voice rang out, not seeming to come from anywhere in particular, but reverberating through as if it was from everywhere. ”Gob! That was brutal! But you won, I guess... I'll be telling the others about you, so you better watch out!” It was at that point that Noel wondered what exactly it was that he got himself involved in, but at the very least, he had taken this chore off of the list he had already. He figured that with his job here now done, he might as well return to the root town, and so with a few button pressed, he was back at Mac Anu.

Upon setting down on the stone pavement of Mac Anu, Noel realised he had that itch. The same urge to hunt that took a hold of him when he saw those new players, he wanted to kill another player again. It was still weird for him to accept that it was a feeling he would have, let alone a feeling that seemed to excite him in the best of ways. He shook his head to clear it of thoughts before seeking a potential target. The breakdown for doing this actively would find someone whom he could likely defeat, but would still give him a challenge. A party was out of the question, as there was too much that could go wrong there; he needed it to be a duel of one-on-one. As if answering his prayers, he heard a player yell quite loudly nearby. Turning to face the source, he saw a player yelling at two others about their poor performance in the field and that they should practise more to stop being 'noobs'. From the vacant and bored expressions that the other two players had, Noel had a feeling that the real reason was the Heavy Blade berating them so. They soon logged off, leaving the Heavy Blade to rant about them being cowards and otherwise make a scene in the middle of town.

Calming down a little, the Heavy Blade marched to the Chaos Gate and shoved Noel aside before yelling his desired keywords. As he gated off, Noel was on the ground, having been knocked down from the Heavy Blade, but he had a grin on his face. He stood up and uttered the same keywords as the Heavy Blade. As the rings came down to whisk him away, Noel put up his hood, and lowered his head. More rainbows greeted him as the field loaded in; he didn't know why a splash of colours was how they loaded in data considering that black was generally the go-to due to it being simple and not requiring too much processing power. That being said, CC Corp had been pretty good when it came to delivering electronics, it'd be no surprise if the servers were pack loaded with RAM and rainbow was the new black.

In a few moments, Noel touched down in the field in which he had followed the Heavy Blade. He scanned the field and saw no one; he had already moved on it seemed. The field itself was interesting; the ground was scorched, and the sky was streaked with red. Bone monuments littered the horizon, and those that were nearby loomed overhead as ghastly scarecrows. Taking a few steps forward, Noel tried to spot the dungeon entrance from his current position. Seeing nothing promising, Noel figured that he'd have to go for a bit of a trek before coming a cross it. Breaking into a jog, Noel headed towards the closest monster portal before drawing his weapons. From beyond the depths of the portal spawned two iron-clad warriors, both armed with a sword and a shield; Swordmanoids. They broke away from each other and tried a pincer attack, moving in synchronisation apart from they were mirroring each other. Noel broke immediately left to intercept, ducking under an incoming sword strike from overhead and stabbing the swordsman in the side. Continuing his forward movement by rolling, he spun up onto his feet, crouched down low. Embers began to flicker from his hands as he prepared a spell; the swordsmen at this stage turning to face him after stumbling briefly into one another. ”Vak Kruz!”

Orbs of fire fell from the sky, homing in on their target and peppering the warrior closest to him, reducing its HP. Noel moved in, angling himself so the injured monster was between him and the uninjured one. They began to advance towards him, and he advanced in turn, closing the distance. One struck, and he parried; another slashed, and he ducked before shanking them in the gut. The exchange was a dance of swords, one team would swing and land a good hit before dodging out of the way, only for the other team to get them soon after, with the counter-attack not hitting its mark. Noel restored himself using Repth and continued on, parrying an oncoming strike before slaying the creature with an uppercut. The other one left standing was on its last legs, having been the one to succumb to fire earlier. It made one final charge for Noel, sword raised. The Twin Blade let the creature close the gap and ducked under the blade, stepping forward and through the Swordmanoid's space and spun on the balls of his feet to face the creature who was facing the other way. In an arcing motion, Noel reared his blades upwards and plunged them both into the opponent's back, before kicking the fresh corpse off of his blades. Turning to assess the horizon again, Noel ventured on in search of the dungeon entrance.

The entrance loomed before him, a monolith of flesh and bone alike. It jutted out of the ground at a weird angle, and the boney protrusions at even more weird angles. A gaping hole lined with teeth along its upper rim and part way down the sides implied that it was some sort of mouth, the ground even taking on the texture of a tongue; slimy and spongy. Noel gripped his controller tighter, finding the sight new, and even to some extent a little grotesque. But he needed to push on if he was going to claim another victim. He entered the dungeon, and could hear the reverberating giggle of someone coming from inside. The way it echoed made it seem like it was coming from within the walls, every wall, making its source unidentifiable. His blades were at the ready as he entered the first room; it was nothing more than a long and otherwise normal corridor. That only thing out of place would have been the treasure chests that seemed littered about the place, as if the monsters that spawned them had fallen in various parts of the room, rather than all in one location.

Noel approached one of them and kicked it open. It didn't have anything special, and he doubted the others would as well. Abandoning the chests, he continued through the next door to head further in. The next room was a four way intersection, braziers lighting the corners of the room, whereas a stretch of darkness loomed in the centre, stretching down into the unknown depths in a form of a pit. Corpses were hung over the pit by bloodied chains, their figured contorted in forms depicting of agony, strife, and despair. The same giggle resounded again, faintly this time, as if taunting him further. The Heavy Blade must have come through here, as up until this point the path was linear. The only problem now was, knowing which way he went. Noel looked at each of the doors in turn he gave up and picked the one in the centre, heading straight forward.

The next room was a corridor leading off to the side and around a corner. There was a monster portal here, and the door closed behind the Twin Blade; the Heavy Blade hadn't come this way. With weapons drawn, Noel braced himself for impact, waiting for what would be spawned. A Valkyrie and a swordsman took their places before him and brandished their weapons, coming right for him. Noel reached into his pocket and pulled out a scroll that he picked up in town earlier. With a broad sweeping motion he unfurled it, ribbons of text leaping off the page to form the aura that would normally form when casting a spell.

He who strikes like lightning... Let thunder roar from thy fingers!


”Rai Don!” As the aura burst with energy, bolts of lightning converged on the space above the two enemies and rained down in swift yet focused charges. The Swordmanoid seemed to suffer less than the Valkyrie, possibly only being a secondary target for the spell rather than the spell hitting both at full force. They both came at him, first the pole arm followed by a sword strike. Both attacks landed, sending Noel reeling, but he held on. He skipped back a few steps, taking up a stance and waiting for one of them to get too close. The blades in his hands gleamed, and guided themselves to land twice on the Valkyrie, the other two strikes missing and finding nothing but the corpse of the monster to strike. This left the Swordmanoid left, who in the meantime had lined up an attack with Noel's head, bringing his sword down and scoring a direct hit.

Noel quickly downed some medicine, bringing his HP reserves up to full so that his death was avoided. The Swordmanoid kept the pressure on, swinging left, right, and alternating between diagonal cuts to keep the Twin Blade occupied. Noel in the meantime kept jumping back, avoiding shot after shot but finding no opportunity to close the distance and do some damage of his own. Soon enough, he was backed up against a wall, with the Swordmanoid bearing down upon him. Noel growled, refusing to be pinned down and began to strike back. The Swordmanoid began to back up as Noel now began alternating his strikes, the only difference being that his strikes were much swifter. A few glancing blows were snuck in, but nothing too damaging. The dual blades gleamed once more, but this time in the form of a murderous black. The attack found its mark and the Death effect kicked in, reducing both the Swordmanoid's vital signs and HP to critical levels. All it took was one more strike and the swordsman was down, fading away into nothing, but leaving a treasure chest behind.

Noel backed out of that room. If the Heavy Blade had not come that way, then he must've been in one of the other two corridors that he had not tried. He tried the next one, which opened into a long room with a treasure chest at the end, sitting atop a stone slab lined with torches. It gave the feel of a sacrificial slate but the surrounding environment seemed to make everything in here seem all the more sinister. The more important feature of this room was that there was another monster portal in here; another route in which the Heavy Blade did not come. Taking up his blades, Noel stared into the space where the monsters would eventually spawn, and found that before him spawned only a Goblin, and what appeared to be some kind of plant. The goblin he had seen before, but this plant had a bulbous red head and a body consisting of nothing more than what appeared to be a vine. As it moved, it seemed to scramble along on its roots, moving just as fast as the goblin.

Not knowing what this new creature was capable of, he decided to take it down first, as getting rid of it would eliminate more than half the threat of the current encounter by removing the mystery element of it. Noel immediately reared his hand back, red energy forming around him and soon conforming to the shape of fireballs. They flew forth, pummelling the Mad Grass, taking down its HP steadily. Noel moved in, charging; he stepped through with his blades and cut along its head, turning around once behind it and throwing a few more shots at it. When his SP had recovered, he let fly a Saber Dance, being at his stage little more than overkill in dispatching the creature, but he preferred to play it safe for now. That just left the Goblin. With little left of his SP, he would be doing this mostly with normal attacks, but he was familiar with how goblins worked and thus knew how to get rid of them fairly easily. And so began the dance; Noel would step forward and attack, before stepping back just out of range from the counter-attack, the goblin would usually not attack, and instead dodge or duck out of the way, but this was all Noel could do for now. Besides, the damage he was sustaining was minimal compared to before, so going at a slower pace wasn't so bad. He would need to take a breather anyway to let his SP restored before confronting the Heavy Blade.

With a few more strikes, the goblin fell, leaving behind a treasure chest for his efforts. Noel had no interest in the treasure and continued on, leaving the room to head back to the four way intersection. That left one door left for him to check, which welcomed him from the other side of the room. He made his way around the pit in the centre of the room and entered the room he was yet to check. It was another dead end, but there were signs of use. Someone was in here fighting before him, and the treasure chests that were littered about were a testament to that. They had all been opened, so they weren’t just irregular spawns; someone was in here before him. Noel had to think; from the looks of things, the Heavy Blade came in here and was caught up in this room while he cleared the other two. Then, while he was in the second room, he must’ve gone into the room directly across from the entrance and continued on.

Noel spun to face the door, groaning but taking off all the same. The Heavy Blade was now ahead, and if he made it to the Gott before he did, there’s a likely chance he would escape before Noel could confront him. Back into the room with the pit, and then into the room he entered first. The next room after that had been cleared out already, and the room after that held the stairs leading down. He took them two at a time and was left with a black screen momentarily as the next level loaded in. The foyer to the next level was dark at first, but as he stepped further in, torches mounted to the ground began to shed light to the new appearance surrounding him. The walls were pulsing, and oozing a clear, thick substance. Several porous patches were pumping out vile, sludge like gels which were then absorbed into the ground.

It was repulsive. The inner workings of whatever body he had stumbled into was a bit too much for his tastes, but if this was how parts of The World were programmed, then he just had to roll with it. The next room was lit by fewer torches, but the way ahead seemed clear. Noel rushed into the next room and found that the next room was also cleared. The Heavy Blade was wasting no time, and based on how he was clearing the rooms, he was probably strong, also. That’s when he realized.

When he had felled the Swordmanoid, it left behind a treasure chest. He was sloppy; that alone was enough to alert the Heavy Blade to the presence of another player. He cursed and moved on, knowing full well that clearing two rooms was enough of a head start for the Heavy Blade; sadly, he had no Speed Charms in order to make use of Ap Do. Room after room he ran, finding nothing but a wake of treasure chests and abandoned items. The further he ran the less light provided by torches and more he relied on the bioluminescence coming from the organs making up the walls of the dungeon. As he entered the last corridor, he saw the Heavy Blade finish off the enemy he was fighting.

With hood raised, Noel charged for the Heavy Blade, making his intent known. Noel brought his left blade up to prepare to parry an oncoming attack from the Heavy Blade. Noel’s opponent smirked and pulled a card out from his jacket pocket, holding it before the Twin Blade and speaking a word softly so that Noel couldn’t hear it. He was stopped dead in his tracks, tendrils made from golden particles binding him in place to the floor, stopping him from moving. The Heavy Blade made to move and left the corridor, and was able to escape into the next room before Noel could register what to do. With only his feet bound in place, he reached into his pocket and used an Antidote on himself. With his bindings now shattered, he made after the Heavy Blade.

The Heavy Blade was making his way to the chest at the far end of the room, at rest under a large statue of a bird, bearing a cross-shaped scepter. He climbed the steps towards it, smug smile across his face from having made it here before the Twin Blade, and showing up those party members who claimed that he was the fault for causing the party to fail. He reached out for the chest, whose fabled contents supposedly held a rare item for those that are able to run through the field and do well. Just before his fingers could brush across the surface of the chest, a barrage of fireballs rained down from above, followed by a vortex of electricity, binding him in place. He turned to look behind him, and to see who was engaging him in combat.

Far down below stood a Twin Blade, clad in crimson from head to toe, hood raised so the facial features were mostly cloaked in shadow. The Heavy Blade, denied the chest until this pest was dealt with, glared down his nose at him. ”Beat it! I was here first! This treasure is mine!” Noel said nothing and began casting again, pulsing with a red aura, staring down the Heavy Blade. ”You know what? Fine. I’ll play. Bring it, bitch!” Brandishing his weapon, the Heavy Blade leapt from the top of the staircase, sword raised high, and came crashing down on Noel. The Twin Blade abandoned his spell and rolled to the side, narrowly avoiding the oncoming strike.

Noel made a quick recovery and charged in, parrying an oncoming attack and getting within the Heavy Blade’s range, swiping across his chest. The Heavy Blade grabbed his sword half-way up its length and delivered a shallow uppercut to the Twin Blade’s neck, making Noel stumble back. But as he stumbled back, he already started preparing a spell, and he began to crackle with a pulsing yellow aura. A vortex of lightning opened up underneath the Heavy Blade and began to chip away at his HP. It did not deter him however, and he came at Noel once more with an overhead swing. Catching Noel across the shoulder, the Twin Blade watched as his HP took the hit, and was thankful he was wearing armor.

Taking his blade up in both hands, the Heavy Blade swung low, but found his blade suppressed against the ground by one of Noel’s feet after clashing blades once more. Noel swung at his opponent’s face and got him across the eyes, something that would have surely blinded if there was any semblance to real world anatomy. With his foot now free of the claymore, the Heavy Blade was free to continue his assault, but Noel did not let up for even a second now that he had gotten the range he needed. Two strong swipes either side, followed by a downwards slash and then an uppercut; Saber Dance. The Heavy Blade tried stepping back to get some distance, knowing that his reach was longer, but Noel was right on his heels, making attacks to keep the pressure on, even if they weren’t connecting.

The Heavy Blade raised his sword to strike out, but Noel was focuses and aware. As the blade came down, he delivered a cut to the opponent’s mid-section before stepping through under their arm, jumping up, raising both weapons above his head, and plunging them down into the Heavy Blade’s back like a scythe. Maoh was left standing, and the Heavy Blade was down, but he knew retribution would come the more people he slew. Being still within the newbie area of the game, the people around here were bound to run into each other more often than not, only due to the fact that training was a big portion of this game.

As the Heavy Blade faded away, Noel climbed up to the chest underneath the statue of Wryneck and claimed it as his own. He wanted to get out of here, as the environment was not too friendly. He pulled out a Sprite Ocarina and it vanished in his hand upon use, whisking him away to the field, and from there, he returned to Mac Anu.

_________________
Maoh l Lvl. 32 l EXP: 0/1000 l HP: 495/??? l SP: 140/???
GP: 31,541


Last edited by Bane on Wed Nov 07, 2012 9:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:28 am 
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Joined: Wed Sep 26, 2012 4:26 pm
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Location: Victoria, Australia
Noel took the HMD off his head and sat it off to the side along with his controller. It was still fairly early, but after that encounter, he felt that playing any more tonight may not be the wisest idea he'd had. He decided to retire for the night and would make a fresh start in the morning. He didn't have the character names of the players who he knew played, so he couldn't meet up with them in-game to try and take down a higher leveled dungeon or something similar. That being said, something told him that if they knew he was killing players, they'd be reluctant to play with him. Level difference aside, it wasn't exactly the most polite thing to do, so if they wanted they could team up and take him down easily, even if they weren't leaps and bounds ahead in levels and gear.

He made his way to bed and slumped down, falling asleep relatively quickly. His dreams consisted of eerily real confrontations with faceless beings, all of which he slew without any kind of mercy. The more he did it, the more things turned red, as if looking through a piece of cellophane. Then, things grew dark, and it was as if watching from a third person view upon himself, backed up against a wall before the shadows took over. Drowning him and making the scream muffled into an almost inaudible gurgle as thick black sludge constricted his airways and filled his throat.

Noel sat bolt upright, a cool sweat covering his body. A hand went instinctively to his throat, checking to see if anything was there. He breathed a sigh of relief finding that it was just skin, and nothing more sinister than that. Laying back down on his pillows, he stared at the ceiling. There wasn't anything in particular he was looking at, but it was just one of those things where he needed a moment to adjust to being awake, and to tell himself that it was just a dream. It was Sunday, meaning no work, but the normal Sunday sleep-in would have to be put on hold as he did not feel like sleeping anymore.

He got out of bed and had a shower, then got dressed, and sat in front of the television with a couple of slices of toast for breakfast. Television at this time was bland, as with people usually being at church, the programs that were on TV were catered to those of the more adult crowd, taking the form of world news, and alike. There were a few cartoon shows on, but nothing overly interesting; clearly the time slots for more interesting and popular cartoons were saved for times where children would actually be watching. Finishing up his toast, he switched on the news and went to clean up the kitchen, listening to the news while he did so.

”...Sunny, with a chance of rain. A man was found dead in his home today, the wife of the deceased currently missing and wanted for police questioning. It is suspected that he was murdered after excessive time spent playing The World. More on this as it develops...”

Now there were murders relating to the game? While this was all fuel for the intrigue behind how the game worked, he was thankful for his curiosity allowing him to keep playing without fear of becoming a victim of any of the things that this game seemed to bring. Nevertheless, he finished cleaning the kitchen and flicked off the TV; it was at this moment that his phone vibrated on the coffee table. He wandered over and picked it up, checking the SMS that had come through. The message was from Jess, saying that she wanted to play The World together, and wanted to show off her Grunty to him. Having nothing better to do, at least nothing set in stone for his play time; he decided that at least checking out what all the fuss was about was fair.

Noel logged in and touched down in Mac Anu, looking around the town he was gradually getting familiar with. The player base was lively, and people were gathering in groups for journeys out into the fields, or discussing various things about the game. Today, his own journey took him beyond the scope of this server and onto the next. He spun on his heel, facing the Chaos Gate and opening up his menu. The Server was locked to him; his level clearance was too low. It did allow for players to not get into a position where monsters would overwhelm them. He closed his menu, looking around; he had no way of meeting Jess there at the moment, unless he found a fast way to get a few levels under his belt to meet the level requirement.

Just then, a familiar ping sounded. He had received a new Flashmail, and opened up his inbox, scrolling through to the newest message. It was from Jess, asking if he was ready to play together. He replied in the affirmative, and told her that he was stuck in Mac Anu due to the level restriction. There was no reply after that, and so he waited off to the side until he got the go ahead. That’s when he heard it, a voice calling out in the crowd, getting louder. He turned in the direction of the voice, and began to hear what she was calling out. ”Maoh! Hey, Maoh! Over here!” It took a while to register, but Maoh was his character’s name, so whoever it was, knew him from somewhere in the game.

She jogged towards him, clad in a dress that looked like layered blossom petals in an array of various pinks. A corset dressed the piece, also in pink and embroidered with gold thread to make spiral patterns along the surface. Her sultry figure had eyes of soft gold, and hair of a chocolate brown. She stopped before him and gave a small wave, smiling sweetly. Noel looked at this other player with curiosity, and the smallest amount of caution. ”Have… We met, before?” His fingered brushed along his weapon, knowing that this person could well be someone to avenge the players he had hunted so far.

But all she did was smile and giggle softly, before opening her menu and hitting a few buttons. Noel had gotten a party invitation from his player, and accepted it knowing that he was safer with someone else. She placed her hands gently in her lap, still smiling before speaking again. ”Oh, please don’t tell me you didn’t notice my character’s name in the Flashmail I sent?” Noel opened his inbox again and checked his most recent messages, the one from Jess being the one to check first. He hadn’t noticed it at first, but the message had two senders. One was Jess, the other was from someone called “Shurelia”. The girl before him just smiled, waiting for him to catch on, and Noel flinched. ”Wow, you really are new at this, huh? But it’s nice to meet you, Maoh.”

She stressed his name, as if to drill in that people will refer to him as such, rather than with his actual name. He would need to get used to being called that while playing, as that’s who he was within the eyes of The World. In any case, with the mystery lady now identified, she stepped towards the Chaos Gate, opening up a menu and flicking through it. ”Are we heading over to the next server? You wanted to show me Grunties, right?” Without looking up, she just smiled, selecting something and they were warped away.

~The Weaver Guardian~
Dun Loireag
Θ Server



The scene before him was new, almost refreshing. They stood on a rocky outcrop, high up in the mountains. The stores were built into rocky spires that dotted the settlement, plateaus joined together by wooden bridges, held up by scaffolding that stretched far below the mists and out of sight. Jess was already ahead, knowing the way to go and leaving him behind. She called out for him to hurry up, using his in-game name again. He would have to get used to it, and would have to familiarize himself with being known as ‘Maoh’. He followed her across the town, occasionally stopping to look around at things having not seen them before. Soon enough, they stood before a large corral, with pig-like creatures wandering around inside.

“These are Grunties, Maoh. See? Just like on the cake!” She had that mocking tone which she was only able to get away with because she was more experienced at the game than he was. It was a little annoying, but it was all part of the learning curve. ”Would you like to see mine? Player owned Grunties aren’t kept here, these ones are just more for show.” She pulled out a whistle of some description and blew on it, a soft tune flowing through the air. Following, nothing happened and the pair was left there to just wait. Shurelia seemed to know what was going on and just waited by the corral, whereas Maoh was looking about, wanting to know what the whistle did. Seeing no apparent change, he went to ask, but as he did, a faint call could be heard somewhere up above.

“Mon amiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii…!”


“The hell…?” Maoh looked up and saw a shadow floating towards them, something glimmering in its wake. As he was watching, he heard Shurelia move away from the corral and stand next to him, looking up at what he was.

”Oh, look! There he is! Down here, Francois! She began to wave to the shadow closing in on them, and as it was almost right above them, it dropped and landed with a neat thud in front of them. Before them, stood a fully grown pig-cow creature, with locks of wavy blond hair and a silk shirt. A glittery scarf was tied around the creature’s neck and was possibly the cause of the glimmering he noticed before. With a neat flick of its head it moves the hair from its face and looked upon Shurelia, smiling.

“Mon ami! How good it is to see you again! Mon ami!” Shurelia giggled, clasping her hands together on her chest and just beaming at this thing. It spoke in an airy, fake French accent, or possibly just a bad accent, and chuckled to himself after ending each sentence. “Mon ami! You are looking positively radiant today! Would you like to go for a ride?” Well if that wasn’t creepy, Maoh didn’t know what was. Strangely, she hopped on and held out her hand for Maoh to climb on too.

”Come on, it’ll be fun!” Somehow he doubted that and shook his head, stepping back to make it clear that he would have nothing to do with this creature until he had a moment figure out more about it. Francois began to float up with Shurelia on its back, and the pair of them began to just float around the corral. It was a sight to behold; the pair of them floating like that reminded him of a balloon, a very slow balloon though. While she was riding Francois around, Maoh went around to the corral and talked to some of the NPCs to find out more about Grunties.

What he found out was that the Grunties started off in a base form and could grow up, evolve as it were, by feeding it food found in the fields and dungeons. There were a few different types of final forms available, and each was obtained by feeding it certain kinds of foods. As he finished up the vague tutorial on Grunty rearing, a small Grunty came up to him and nudged him in the leg, addressing him as he did so.

”Hey, oink! What’s your name, oink!” The small pig thing looked up at him with bright eyes, and a peppy attitude. Maoh became flustered, unsure as to how to proceed. The Grunty child nudged him again. ”Hey! Oiiiiiiink! Did you hear me?” The child took a few steps back so he wasn’t craning his neck to look up at the much taller player. Maoh knelt down and looked the child over. If Shurelia had a Grunty of her own, he supposed he could just as easily have one too.

”My name is Maoh. Do you have a name?” The Twin Blade asked calmly, curious to see what the Grunty did upon knowing his name.

”I’m Grunty the Kid! Oink!” The Grunty child showed some pride in introducing himself as such, grinning with glee and snuffling around happily at Maoh’s feet. When he had sufficiently investigated Maoh’s feet, he sat back on his haunches and looked up at the Twin Blade once again. ”Wanna be friends, oink? We should be friends! Oink!”

The oinking was starting to get annoying, so he decided to agree, hopefully letting him get away from the small thing and back to Shurelia. ”Uhh… Sure, okay. Friends. I’ve gotta get back to my other friend for now, but I’ll be back.” Something about it didn’t seem convincing and the Grunty picked up on it. He snorted and stomped about Maoh’s feet angrily, staring up at the Twin Blade. ”Okay, okay. I promise I’ll come back. Just… stop that, it’s annoying.”

”When you come back, you better have food with you! Otherwise, you’ll make me all mad, oink!” Maoh sighed, standing up and looked around for Shurelia. She was nearby with Francois, giggling while the Grunty spoke more air-headed things to his lady. Something about this bothered him, but he wasn’t sure what exactly it was. He felt his face get hot and grumbled, walking away from the Grunty child and back to his Long Arm friend.

Shurelia and Francois were discussing various things, but nothing of real importance. As Maoh approached, Shurelia turned to face him, speaking almost immediately. ”Hey! We should go into a field to find more Grunty food! From the looks of things, you’re gonna be raising a Grunty too!” Before Maoh could explain the situation, or deny anything, she grabbed him by the hand and dragged him to the Chaos Gate. She opened her menu and flicked through it with one hand while her other held onto Maoh’s arm. ”Okay~! Here we go! Θ: Blooming Bounded Sactum!”

Loading rings descended down upon the pair and they were off to the new area. What waited for them on the other side of the loading screen was an expanse of rocky terrain, boulders littering the landscape with large hills keeping the elevation varied. Shurelia held out an orb that glowed a soft blue with shining sparks swirling around on the inside and it broke, revealing the map to them. It didn’t show them where the Grunty food was, but it showed them where the enemy portals were, and that allowed them skip them in favor of searching for food if they so wished.

Shurelia took the lead and began to jog off to the closest portal, drawing her spear as she did so. Maoh drew his weapons, and let Shurelia initiate the battle, being the higher leveled of the two of them. As the gold portal before them pulsed to life, Maoh looked into the empty space to see what would fill it. From the void emerged two Headhunters, hulking creatures with large weapons and clearly not afraid to charge right into the fray. Shurelia spun her spear around and skewered one in the middle before her weapon began to glow an emerald green. ”Juk Doom!”

She swung her weapon skyward, drawing it clear from the monster before cleaving straight back down in a clean line, following it up with a thrust that burst with wood elemental energy. She drew back the spear once more, spinning it around her form as she spun on the balls of her feet out of the way of an incoming strike from above, before planting her spear in the ground and vaulting over another strike coming in from the side. Landing neatly in a half crouch, she flicked her spear up to deliver another quick jab. Her spear then glowed bright red and she spun on the spot, wrenching out her weapon from the monster’s side and creating a trail of flames in her weapon’s wake.

As for Maoh, the other monster came after him and he braced himself for impact. As the monster swung down, he leapt back, form pulsating with blue energy; as he landed, he plunged his fist onto the ground, causing icicles to form on the ground beneath the Headhunter and pierce upwards into the hulking form. The monster, barely phased, swung haphazardly at the Twin Blade and found its weapon soon lodged into the ground. Maoh, taking his opportunity, ran to close the distance, taking the route along the blade to get up to where the creature’s head should be.

With blades enshrouded in darkness, he lashed out, striking once, twice, and then the last few in quick succession following. He hooked onto the monster’s head with his blade, turning in midair then sliding down behind the monster, weapons dragging into the monster’s skin and cutting into its back with long gashes. He jumped off, rearing his blades back and readying another volley of attacks before he noticed another flash of emerald green, and the monster was cut clean in half by Shurelia’s spear. As the monster faded away, she looked around for something. She didn’t say anything, even when Maoh inquired as to what she was looking for, but soon enough, she exclaimed and called him over.

She was leaning over a rock, looking at something on the other side. Maoh came over to join her, leaning over the same rock and seeing a bunch of… something looking up at them with worry in their eyes. They were long, stalk-like plants with bulbous yellow heads. They flailed, but seemed to only move in circles as they were rooted into the ground. A pair of giant red lips parted and they all cried out defiantly, ”Cordyceps!” Their leaves fanned out to become makeshift arms, all of which writhing wildly at the players before them.

”Well… they’re all yours! Go on, take them!” Jess looked to him, still leaning over the rock and just watching his reaction. Maoh looked at Jess, then back to the plants that were still obnoxiously shouting at them before nodding, vaulting over the rock to land next to the Cordyceps. They quivered as he was near; clearly the fact that he was in picking range had rattled them more than being separated by a rock. Maoh knelt and then grabbed one of them, yanking it firmly from the ground, before doing the same to the other two sittnig next to it, finding a small amount of pleasure in watching their expressions change from worry to morbid dread. He threw them to Shurelia, causing her to look at him, confused.

”We can divide up what we find later. Apparently what you feed a Grunty will change what it’ll turn into, so it would be best to see what we end up with.” Shurelia shrugged and put the Cordyceps away, straightening up and looking around for another monster portal. She waited for Maoh to get back to her and they set off again, taking a route through a canyon, with steep walls either side of them. The portal was up ahead, and Shurelia charged. Maoh was hot on her heels and the pair of them came to a halt before the portal as it spawned forth their next opponents. Before them stood two warriors clad in red, wearing a breastplate and red hat.

Shurelia wasted no time and began to cast a spell, while Maoh charged forward, blades gleaming. The Long Arm, bathed in a Vak aura, spun on the spot once before snapping her fingers in the direction of the closest monster, letting fireballs plummet from the sky. The Twin Blade, jumping around the spell’s fire, came in from the side and hit the first Ochimusha from the side. Leaping back from a counterattack, he lined up the other and swung at it, barely missing but receiving a shot to the body in return. He fumbled back, bringing his blades up in time to parry an oncoming attack, but getting knocked to the side by the one he had stabbed first.

Shurelia readied her spear and leapt into the fray, bringing her spear down and cutting off one of the Ochimusha from Maoh so the odds were evened up. She began to deliver a flurry of short, sharp jabs, forcing the monster to back up lest it be skewered violently. With enough distance gained, she let the tip of her spear drop, then performed a massive overhead swung, cutting the Ochimusha in the head. She threw a Health Drink at Maoh, which impacted and soaked into his skin through his costume, bringing him back up to full vitality. Maoh, now refreshed, went on the offensive and began to deliver his own series of quick cuts after receiving a combo of kicks and punches his way. He only managed to get a few glancing blows and nothing significant until the ground became uneven.

He took his chance and charged his blades with Ani energy, a surge of darkness energy ran along the length of his blade, engulfing it in a cloak of black smoke. As he stepped forward he swung quickly and precisely, moving from cut to cut as if made of water. The first few fell short by only an inch or so, but the last combination hit its mark, causing critical damage from an opposing element. The Ochimusha fell, leaving just the one that Shurelia was fighting. With a flick of her wrist, she sent the remaining monster skyward and spun full circle to hit it as if it were aiming for a home run. With the last of its HP depleted, the monster died leaving them to continue on.

As time went on, they collected a few more pieces of food for the Grunties and did some training so Maoh would at least be able to get back to the server by himself. They went back to Dun Loireag and visited Francois once more before they logged out for the day, Maoh needing to make sure to give Gruny the Kid at least something to prevent him from being an annoying presence. ”I had fun today.” Maoh looked up at Shurelia, eyebrow quirked. ”I mean it. I had fun; I don’t usually go out into the field because I’d be going alone. Going with someone else is… nice.”

”You’re… welcome?” Maoh was confused, but slightly glad all the same. She smiled and bid him farewell, logging out and leaving him in Dun Loireag by himself. The town was quiet again, but there was something off about the silence. It could’ve easily been the fact that being alone in the vast space was purely unsettling in its own right, but little did he know that something else was brewing below the mists.

_________________
Maoh l Lvl. 32 l EXP: 0/1000 l HP: 495/??? l SP: 140/???
GP: 31,541


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:19 am 
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Joined: Wed Sep 26, 2012 4:26 pm
Posts: 29
Location: Victoria, Australia
Following the trek into the Theta server, Noel found it harder to log back in. Work had set back in, keeping him fairly busy during the week. He would occasionally log in to check things out, but never stick around for too long. Grunty the Kid monitored when he came by, and complained when he went a couple of days without logging in. It was annoying, but Noel dealt with it in the form of finding a piece of Grunty food somewhere and giving it to him. Work only got busier as the month went on, various holidays and private functions that needed custom candy.

Jess would come by every now and again to bring him lunch, but she was also busy with work, working in the kitchens of her café. He began to think about how things were here, and how things were different in The World. Here, he had the persona of a nice, caring person. Someone you could trust with things, reliable to a fault. The flip side of that was that when he was by himself in-game, he became hungry for blood, and had a murderous instinct that needed to be satiated. It was a little worrying, and something which he had decided not to divulge to Jess just yet.

The World became his escape from reality, and he found himself becoming a regular player much like a lot of his friends. They were miles ahead, and he had made it very clear to not come down to his level until he was ready, assuring them that he’d catch up in time. But as he played, he felt the distance grow, and began to meet other people in-game instead, forming ties with them and at times, being there when they needed him. It was the gray area which confused him so. Part of his conscious mind wanted to help others, regardless of if they were in-game or not. The other part however wanted to be more aggressive, powerful, and was willing to kill to get there. Saturday came at last, and Noel started the day as he normally did with a coffee and some breakfast. He flicked on the news, wondering what they were going to report about today, and watched as he munched on some toast.

“…train services. On the topic of public transport, the government has decided to place the duties in the hands of CC Corporation. Such a move will see the integration of wi-fi during train journeys, and computerized travel. This move however has rumored to put current staff out of jobs. We interviewed…”

Noel turned off the TV again. The public transport system down here was terrible, but putting yet another thing in the hands of CC Corporation made it seem like were building on their monopoly. Alas, his vice at the moment was one of their creations, and he felt better not thinking about it. He tidied up after himself and cleaned the kitchen from breakfast, moving into his room to log into The World. He didn’t know what he was going to get up to today, but he had to start somewhere; and that somewhere was Dun Loireag, the Theta server.

As he touched down in Dun Loireag, he looked around the mountaintop establishment, weather balloons strung up on the top of buildings, and abandoned scaffolds hinted that the town was never finished. The center of the town was a large stone dais that connected other floating pieces of rock together with wooden bridges, acting as a hub for the town. The Grunty stables were further in beyond that point, but most of the stores directly came off this thing. There were other areas too; players could hire out space for themselves in rooms which were held in the far side of town, and the server’s arena was located out that way, too.

Maoh had considered entering the tournaments held there every now and again, but never did enter. Any form of killing he did, he preferred it to be without the eyes of The World’s playerbase spectating. He liked his privacy in these matters, as it allowed him to be able to avoid conflicts where need be, and prevented his reputation grow beyond what he wanted it to be. He figured that luring people into traps, or even following them would be harder if his renown were too high, so he kept a low profile, only ever bumping into one victim by chance, and only once.

He stopped by the Grunty Stables first, where Grunty the Kid was waiting for him. His pale red coat had a soft sheen to it today, not that he had done anything to cause that, it was just how the graphics were rendered. As was custom, the asked for food and the Twin blade sat down a Mushroom at his feet. The Grunty had slowly gotten bigger as the days went by, and had become less of a brat. He was still annoying as hell, but at least it was on the improve. Maoh bid the Grunty farewell and returned to the center of town, wondering what to do next. He hadn’t explored the town in its fullest yet, and decided that he’d best do that.

He decided to head on over to the Arena to see what that was like, as there were more people over there so he could at the very least blend in with the crowd. From the looks of things, a CC Corp tournament was underway, so a lot of people had come to watch. Watching or partaking were things he weren’t particularly interested in, but the scenery was nice. The Arena was a large building similar to a coliseum, but built into the side of one of the mountains, leaving half of it exposed to open air. He didn’t see anything interesting, so made to leave.

”And so I just took the item from the kid and logged out! Twerp didn’t know what to do!”

He could hear the same female voice laugh, causing him to stop in his tracks, looking over his shoulder. He glared at the female player and made to put his hood up, but then heard something else. His attention was drawn to another player standing nearby, walking along with a companion of some kind, telling him about how he shoved one of the newbies into the river running through Mac Anu. Another group was discussing the lack of administration controlling the game these days, which made Maoh wonder what exactly formed the regulatory body of The World, if any.

He put his hood up and decided to follow this female player for a bit. It only clicked to him that putting his hood up did very little, but it got him in the mindset that he was on a mission of sorts. She wandered around, looking at stalls with her companions and eventually she was alone, wandering around. It was weird though; she was heading to places of very little traffic to do very little. When she arrived at a very secluded area, she stopped, and without turning around, she called out. ”Are you done following me, yet?”

She had her weapon drawn, a long tether-like piece draping over her hands and neatly hanging off the sides. Her face was a scowl, looking him over as she assessed what to do. This woman had something about her that made Moah think that she had killed a couple of players too. He drew his weapons, not taking a stance just yet, just continuing to watch. The woman smirked and flicked her wrist forward and out, her whip lashing out and ensnaring Maoh around the neck. His hand went to the weapon instinctually, and she tugged, throwing him off his feet and onto the floor.

She withdrew her whip and raised it high above before bringing it down, barely missing the Twin Blade who rolled out of the way. Maoh got to his feet and scrambled into a defensive stance as the whip came around again, clipping him in the cheek. He flinched, stepping to the side and deflecting another incoming blow. Following the parry, Maoh ran in to close distance, swiping at the Whipmaster twice before spinning on the balls of his feet to slash again. The first strike hit its mark, but the other two were blocked or otherwise deflected. ”Cute.” At that word the Whipmaster began to spin on the spot, her whip forming a barbed shield which forced him to jump back, out of range.

”You just have to be that kind of person, don’t you?” As her skill was coming to an end, Maoh waved his hand before him, pulsing with Gan energy. He parried two more quick strikes before the rocks above the Whipmaster’s head became crashing down. Momentarily stunned, he dashed in, ducking under a whip strike and cutting her back, following the line of her collarbone. Using the momentum, he spun around, hacking at her mid-section with a flurry of sparking blades, electricity coiling around the point of impact for every strike. The Whipmaster stepped back, rearing back her arm and then lashing her weapon out, snaring Maoh again.

With the whip now around his throat, constricting him and binding him in place. He was thrown into the wall, and then into the ground, whip still coiled around his neck. He looked up at the Whipmaster, who had a scroll in hand, snarl on her face. He was effectively pinned, and as soon as he tried casting a spell, she’d be able to act first and deal with it first. When he seemed to be defeated, he heard heavy footsteps draw closer. The footsteps stopped and he heard a deep voice speak behind him.

”Vhat is going on here?” The thick accent was familiar to him, although it had been a while. Maoh recognized the voice belonging to a Heavy Axe that he had met in Mac Anu and then ditched for being too overbearing on his item choices. The new arrival heaved the axe off of his shoulder, crashing it into the ground. He stared down the Whipmaster, who flinched and let the Twin Blade go. The Heavy Axe walked up to the Whipmaster, who seemed to back up to keep her distance. ”Zis is not good. Behavior such as zis is no good.

She had a scowl on her face as the Heavy Axe helped up her prey, patting him on the shoulder with strength enough to almost send him prone again. ”What do you want, Phobos? She was tense, and it was clear that she was concerned with her current position. From what Maoh could gather, they knew each other, but beyond that he had no clue.

The Heavy Axe smirked, before furrowing his brow and stroking his moustache and beard. ”You should not be hunting ze players, no. Is not good. Not… good example.” He held his free hand out, a blue rune appearing before him, glowing sparks carving out the symbol from the air. As it formed, the Whipmaster made to move but found himself snared with permafrost, locking her in place. As the rune was completed, Maoh could’ve sworn that it was a crest with a tiger’s head as the main motif; but it pulsed with a strong light before he could make out any real detail. Maoh knew of the basic Rue spells, but what he was witnessing now seemed to be all of them cast in unison, and supercharged to take the form of a super condensed and isolated blizzard just around the Whipmaster. Shards of ice tore at her body and she died, encased in a coffin of ice.

Maoh stepped forward, peering forward at the woman in the translucent prison, before turning to the Russian pirate who was already heaving the axe back onto his shoulder. ”The hell was that? That was no skill that I was told about!” The pirate, whose name seemed to be Phobos was scratching his face, completely unphased by what had just occurred. Sure, maybe he had performed something like this before, and the whole situation was normal to him, or at the very least not [/i]new[/i], but he still needed to fill him in so he knew he wasn’t going to become the next frozen treat to be shared around Dun Loireag.

The Twin Blade before him was confused, concerned, or some other third thing that the pirate had no clue about; leaving him wondering how he should answer the question. Being taller than him, he peered down and spoke calmly, as if it were the normal thing in the world to do. ”Is special skill. Zat is why I am strong!” He laughed heartily, causing the Twin Blade to look at him as if he were mentally disturbed. ”Is why I’m great policeman of Ze World!” Was this guy for real? He couldn’t possibly be a system admin, not with that attitude.

”Well… Thanks.” He turned to leave when a hand found his shoulder, holding him in place. He jolted in his chair, finger hovering over the button which would allow him to draw out his weapon. Phobos spoke quieter, his tone serious, the gravelly feature to it making Maoh listen even closer. He said a short phrase before departing, moving past him into the streets and becoming one with the crowd. The frozen player behind him lingered, and with a brief glance he decided that it was best that he moved on as well.

“Ancient Mad Jack’s Forest Haven.”

He had heard this phrase before, and he knew where. It was from that anonymous person who sent him the Flashmail about the giant bird. Strange occurrences were leading him there, and he had become resigned to the fact that he would, inevitably have to pay the field a visit. He made his way to the Chaos Gate. Before him loomed the gateway that would take him where he needed to go. He had no idea as to what to expect from this, but he knew that, deep down, he couldn’t keep running from his curiosity. He input the words and hovered over the confirmation button, thinking about what he was hoping to find.

Was he even sure there was something there he wanted to find? The bird could have just been an event and the person that sent him the mail could have been like him, wanting to lure players into their deaths through player versus player combat. He sighed and pressed on, putting himself at the mercy of the game’s data to put him where he needed to be. What he found before him was something which he was not expecting.

He stood in what appeared to be a courtyard, rubble littering patches of ground where they had fallen away from bits of the temple surrounding him. Trees that had grown for what appeared to be ages upon ages had grown around the place, becoming one with the temple. From what he could tell though, the trees had long since perished and fresh foliage had ceased to sprout from its branches. Those on the outer circle seemed to be still blooming with green leaves, but there was something eerily quiet about this place.

There was no music, and the wind was still. Above them, the sun shone through the canopy and cast long shadows on the walls and the ground. The temple seemed to stretch on for a while, but a large structure, almost monolithic in nature, rose from the ground beyond the courtyard, a ways beyond the immediate vicinity. On the walls were carvings, and statues of four different animals hung above the doorways leading out of the courtyard. The one doorway that wasn’t caved in had a statue of a bird above its archway. Something told him that this was the place, and into the next room he went.

It was dark, but as he walked forward, torches lit on the walls either side of him, illuminating the path he had walked, but not that which lay ahead. Still no music or sound came to his ears, and it gave him goose bumps. The addition of the soft crackling of fire comforted him a little. Was he scared? No, he couldn’t be, it was only dark. He felt eyes on him, from somewhere in the darkness, but he pressed on. At the end of the corridor, there was a stone staircase leading up, so up he climbed.

In the next room, there were corridors leading off to either side, but before him was a balcony overlooking the environment. The temple overlooked an expansive forest, sitting at the edge of what seemed to be the world. The river that ran through the forest dropped off and cascaded into the mists tumbling far below and out of sight, but the sheer distance that this field covered, kept him from hearing any water-related sounds. Off to the side, the monolith was still there, but its purpose was now clear.

What was built at the very top of it was a nest. Whatever use it once had was now gone, and instead was an aerie, an eyesore on an otherwise serene place. But its purpose was clear, what had built it was already known. As if on cue, a loud shriek from the sky signaled its arrival, the large bird that had terrorized him in Mac Anu swooped past before ascending to its nest, paying him no mind. He was left with two options. He could either take the path to his left and ascend to the aerie and to where the bird was, or take the path to the right into the ruins.

The decision wasn’t so hard. The decision was between danger and the unknown, and the field itself was an uncertain factor which he had no control over. It was better that he played to his strengths and left his path forward as lit as possible. Unfortunately, this meant that approaching the bird was a certainty. As he traversed down the left corridor, he could hear voices. Nothing discernible, but it was there. As he got closer, he realized that he could also hear the rustling of something moving up ahead. He slowed the pace of his approach, focusing in on the sound.

Little did he realize that something was slowly coiling around his ankle, and before he realized, it was too late. He was tripped over, landing forwards and finding himself staring at the floor. He struggled against what had grabbed him, but found that the coils around his leg got visibly tighter, and it slowly began to drag him away from the sound he was listening in on. It dragged him deep into the darkness, away from any light and down a side passage which he hadn’t noticed. He could hear the faint sound of dripping water, and the stone ground had become covered with moss. He heard the heavy sound of something sliding into place, and then he stopped.

Moah’s hands dove for his ankle and found nothing there. He was freed from the vines that had snared him, but in terms of where he was now, he had no idea. Standing up, and doing so carefully, an investigation of the room seemed to be in order. The only issue with this plan was that he was effectively looking around in the dark. His eyes weren’t adjusting, which was expected due to his eyes within The World only being digital constructs. However, he still had a means to shed light where he needed to, and charged up a spell.

”Ap Vakz!”

As his Vak affinity soared, he began to pulse a soft red glow that cast light on some of the walls. From the looks of things, he had come through a stone door that was now barring the way back. It would have explained the heavy grinding sound that sounded right before he was able to move again. Considering the way was barred, he had to go deeper. A part of him hated this, but he went on anyway. He found that the decision was made for him, as the option to return to the root town was disabled. The path forward led down a slope further under the ground floor of the temple. He swore he was walking for a solid minute before coming across a large room.

Vines hung from the ceiling in various places, and moss covered the majority of the room. It looked like a garden, with feature rocks arranged about the place, the only source of light in the room, aside from Moah, came from a single lantern that was lit with a candle in the corner of the room. Being the only light source, and fire being comforting in an environment that seemed to be damp from the lack of sunlight, he was drawn to it like a moth, and found himself staring into the flickering fire.

”Hmph.” Moah spun around, seeing the silhouette of a hunched man standing in the opposite side of the room. He hadn’t seen him there before, but had he been there the whole time? This man was holding a staff with a lantern of his own hooked to the top. The light from it illuminated his gnarled face, his complexion looking like bark. White hair, almost mane-like and unkept; he thought he could see leaves fall from the mass of it as the man started to come closer. ”Why have you come here? Tell me, boy.”

As he entered the range of the light from the other lantern, Moah could make out something moving on his shoulder. It was a mass of something green, oozing with some sort of slime, the ends of which coiling on itself to make tendrils that hung over his shoulder. With a quick motion, he snapped his cane down on the ground and barked out when Moah still hadn’t spoken. ”Answer! Who sent you!” He stepped forward with a speed beyond Moah’s comprehension and jabbed the Twin Blade in the chest with a boney finger.

”…The bird…” The man before him stared at him with emerald eyes, watching him with a gaze that pierced the soul. Moah cleared his throat, looking away before meeting the man’s gaze again. ”You sent me a Flashmail about the bird. I was the one that posted on the BBS.” That flash of insight made the man before him settle, become less tense, and as he relaxed it sounded just like wood bending and settling into a new shape. Was this a NPC or a character? The man before him turned around before taking a few steps away. The tattered robe he wore dragged on the ground behind him, a sign that it was sizes too big for him anyway.

”Viena, please see to our guest.” Before Maoh could raise any form of protest, the creature on this shoulder leapt off and latched onto his face, obscuring his view. Things went quiet again, and Maoh was afraid to speak. He was uncertain how long he was sitting in his chair. He felt his eyelids droop, and he remembered opening them again, finding himself in a new room. Neon lights came from various beakers and test tubes that were arranged on the tables about the room. Coloured smog rose from machines that silently churned their insides, giving the room a heady feel to it. He could see the man who he was talking to just before hunched over a table, but it was at that point he found he couldn’t move.

Maoh looked down. He found that the vine… monster, for lack of a better term, had kept him in place, and was writhing slowly along his body, as if it were a reminder that it was still vigilant to its task. With a jolt, the other man in the room looked over, before a small smile crept across his face. ”Ah, you’re awake. I was worried that Viena had been too… rough.” He said that last bit a little too slowly for Maoh’s liking, let alone the tone he used. He walked over from the bench he was working at, his staff tapping on the floor with each stride he took, before he was in front of Maoh. ”I’m assuming that Phobos gave you the last little push to come give me a visit then, hm?’ He chuckled a soft laugh before flexing his fingers, bark flaking away from his hand.

He snapped his fingers and the table Maoh was attached to, began to float beside the man. ”I suppose Phobos neglected to mention any more? Well, my name is Gallus. I am the… birdkeeper, for Suzaku.” He stopped before a bookshelf, pulling out a book and skimming it with gnarled fingers, before reaching over to a torch bracket and pulling it, revealing a path downwards. ”It’s fortunate that you decided to come; I had run out of new players to run experiments on. It’s hard to find willing subjects these days!” He didn’t look up from his book as they continued down into another chamber, this one with large tanks, before it clicked as to what they were.

”Culture tanks? What are you…” Maoh looked around and spotted more breakers and test tubes, as if in the middle of an experiment. ”This event is too bizarre. I’m out.” Curiosity was only willing to take him so far it seemed. It was at this point where this was now beyond what he was hoping to accomplish which was finding out more about this bird. At the very least, he had found out that its name was Suzaku, but that was about it.

”Leaving? Oh no, we can’t have that, can we? Xenobia would be most displeased if that were to happen. Most displeased.” Maoh tried to log off, to do anything to remove himself from the field, but he found himself bound there, somehow, unable to do anything, as if bound within his chair at his computer much like his avatar. ”Are you familiar with Morphogenetic Field Theory?”

”What? Who’s Xenobia? Why can’t I leave?” Maoh spoke quickly, irritated, struggling against the bonds that held him in place.

”No? It’s a fascinating concept. It is what gives birds their wings, defines hands from feet, and everything down to the core of our very beings…” Maoh watched him move across the room as he spoke, and soon he stopped by one of the culture tanks, caressing it gently. It was clear that he was ignoring Maoh at this point so he could monologue like any good villain would. ”If we can shape these fields, we can change how things develop, how people develop. Wouldn’t it be nice to have wings?” He motioned to one of the tanks. Inside it was something, half developed, but clearly not human.

Maoh tried to break free, but the vine monster Viena had him in place. This was an event, right? While his mind was racing with things to try and justify why he wasn’t able to log out, or compel himself to disconnect from the internet, Gallus had come back over holding something in his hand. Before Maoh could protest, Gallus injected him with a glowing pink fluid, before stepping back, watching intently. When nothing happened straight away, he took out a notebook and began to jot something down.

”The fuck was that!? The hell did you do!?” Maoh began to struggle against his bonds more violently this time. He wanted out; he was getting no answers and he was beyond the point of just feeling uncomfortable now. But there was something else, he suddenly felt tired. Not just slightly fatigued, but full blown fatigue; his eyelids began to droop. ”I… I gotta go… I’ve gotta…” He slumped, asleep, his world now black.

He wasn’t sure just how much time had passed, but when he woke, he found himself in a new room. Maoh was laying on what seemed to be a bed of soft moss, almost as if it was meant to be used as a bed. The room he was in was divided in half; the half he was on was behind a set of metal bars, implying that the room was a holding cell of some description. He placed his hands on the bars of the cell, wondering if any of them happened to be loose so he could make his escape. The door to the room opened, and in came a squat creature covered in leaves and rocky protrusions, almost like horns. On its head was a tray of which appeared to be bread.

It came over to the cell door and stepped on a panel on the floor; then the door opened. This was his chance. Maybe it really was an event, and it was all kicking off now. Whatever this creature was wasn’t intelligent. Maoh rushed the creature, pushing it aside and bolting out the door it had opened. He made a break for it, running down the torch-lit corridor, taking turn after turn just to make distance between himself and his place of capture. Maoh took another turn and saw a light at the end of the corridor. Something inside him told him to run for it, so he did. As he broke into the sunlight, he looked skyward and saw the giant bird Suzaku flying overhead.

He could hear his heart beating heavily in his chest, he could hear the water now. But then… from behind, he felt a stabbing pain. He felt it. Maoh dropped to his knees, breathing fast, he looked behind, vision fading. Gallus was there, another syringe in his hand, a bright pink fluid dripping from its tip. ”Y-You… You, what… what did… you… do…” He fell forward into the ground, vision fading into black, senses numb.

”Let’s hope this experiment is a success. I have high hopes for this one.”

Then, all was black.

_________________
Maoh l Lvl. 32 l EXP: 0/1000 l HP: 495/??? l SP: 140/???
GP: 31,541


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 1:11 am 
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Master of Games
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Joined: Mon Mar 31, 2003 9:23 pm
Posts: 1260
Location: ...Tracking...please wait...
Bane: Become Level 25

Bane: +200 exp

You will wake up in the main thread with:
1 Bloody Blades
1 Newt Necklace
1 Firedrake Mail
1 Frost Bracer
1 Oak Anklet (Yes, you're too low level to equip it yet.)
1 The Fool

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Wishlist: Any Armor or Weapons under level 50, Any Scrolls (prefer level 2+)

EXP 500/1000


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