Sunday, September 25, 2016

Chapter 45 - Demon's Duel

Sometimes, people have what might be described as ‘irreconcilable differences’. When that happens, often the only way to keep things civil, rather than a spiral of PKs drawing in friends and allies on both sides and just keeping the hate going, is to have a formal, system-approved duel.

There were two levels of official duels in Age of Anarchy Online. The first was basically the same as fighting in the rest of the world or the arena. You fought until someone’s HP dropped below half, they surrendered, or they died, depending on the settings of the duel. There was no death penalty for dying in a normal duel, unlike when you died in the rest of the world.

The second level was the ‘Demon’s Duel’, and it was a holdover from WoD. Even there, not many people used it, because of the, frankly, insane risks involved. First, win or lose, the person issuing a challenge to a Demon’s Duel had to pay 1000 GP immediately upon issuing the challenge. But that wasn’t much, especially when you got to high levels. The real kicker of the Demon’s Duel was the fact that the death penalty if you lost was decided by your opponent. And yeah, all Demon’s Duels were to the death. Upon the challenge being laid, and the challenger paying the fee, both players wrote down their desired death penalty for their opponent, and sealed them. If you won, you’d never know what your opponent wrote down, unless they told you later. If you lost, the duel announced your fate in a global announcement.

Now, obviously, this had the potential for massive abuse. Because of that, there were restrictions on who you could challenge. First, you could only issue one Demon’s Duel challenge per RL month. Second, you could only challenge the same character once per RL year. Third, your character had to be within 10 levels of the character you challenged. Fourth, all death penalties were checked by the admins (unlike most of what happened in AAO), so anyone trying to, say, use a Demon’s Duel to get someone’s RL address would be permanently banned, whether they won or lost the duel. In the sixteen in-game years I’d played World of Destiny, there were only seven Demon’s Duels performed. I’d fought in two of them, one as the challenger.

As soon as the 100 PP deleted itself from my purse, the challenge screen appeared before me.


Zayn Darkmore has challenged Kali Dorna to the Demon’s Duel! As Challenger Zayn has paid 1000 GP as required by the terms and conditions of the EULA, this challenge may not be refused. Both players may decide on the death penalty for their opponent should they prove victorious. The death penalty may be anything, up to and including character deletion. Death penalties may not affect your opponent’s Struggle.net account or reveal any financial or personal information about the player. Attempts to do so will result in a permanent ban from all Icestorm products.

Enter your opponent’s death penalty now:


Smiling, I typed in what I wanted to happen to Kali if she lost. While sputtering with obvious rage, Kali did the same. Once she was finished, another screen popped up in front of the two of us.


Processing death penalties…

Both players have selected allowable death penalties, as per the EULA.


That was quickly followed by a screen that showed up to everyone in the room.

ATTENTION!

A Demon’s Duel has been declared by Zayn Darkmore, challenging Kali Dorna. This duel will be to the death. There is no restriction on spells or abilities. No other creatures may participate in this duel unless summoned via magic.  The contestants will be summoned to the Duel Arena in 3… 2… 1…

There was a bright light, and suddenly I was in the familiar Duel Arena. When you fought an official duel, you and your opponent were transported to this open Coliseum made of weathered stone and with a sand floor, with a few stone columns and broken walls here and there, and no innocent bystanders to get in the way. The reason was simple. This gave all (well, most) classes the best chance to shine. Wizards often couldn’t unleash their most powerful attacks indoors, because massive fireballs tend to cook everyone indiscriminately. Warriors didn’t like having people who could be used as shields by their enemies. Rogues and Rangers enjoyed the places to hide and prepare a sneak attack or snipe with arrows. The ‘sunlight’ in the arena didn’t even hurt Drow, vampires, and other types that disliked sunlight. Really, the only people who didn’t have some benefit in this field were ‘face’ classes, like Bards. And they sucked at duels, anyways.

Of course, there WERE people who got put at a big disadvantage due to the terms of the duel. Kali was already cursing because her undead were still back in the room we just got transported from. Sure, I didn’t have my pets or Hrozne with me, but then, I was a jack-of-all-trades character. I could still fight without support. Kali, being both a necromancer and priestess, was focused on using her minions rather than fighting herself. And she knew it.

“I am going to rip you to shreds.”

“Aw, is that any way to greet old friends, Ravenna?”

Her eyes sharpened at that name. “Who are you, and why do you know that name?”

I laughed, and said, “You haven’t changed after all this time. Still a sick little girl playing at torture for kicks. I kicked your ass a couple times, back in WoD, back when I was a ‘good guy’. Remember the name Torgan? Well, I might not be him any longer, but that just means your spanking is going to be a lot more personal this time.”

She sputtered, and then launched into a string of very creative curses in four languages (including Russian, for some reason). I said nothing in response to her, though I did note some of the curses for future use. I couldn’t bother with her words now. Instead, I concentrated as the system counted down to the start of the duel. We were twenty feet apart, and Kali was armed with her dagger, and only the barest of robes. I was in my full armor, wielding my two blades. But I knew better than to get complacent. Kali was higher level than I was, and had a twisted cunning to her. I had no intention of underestimating her.

When the signal to begin came, we both started moving. Kali was clearly still just as practiced at PvP as Ravenna had been in WoD, and knew that a mage couldn’t stand up to a swordsman in close combat, so she began launching spells at me as she ran for cover. Of course, I wasn’t idle either. I snapped off Euphoria as soon as the duel started, and was rewarded to see Kali stumble slightly as she dived towards a wall where she could take cover and launch her spells. Not a bad plan, against most people.

I was not most people. Her spells were hastily cast, and I didn’t even need to bother dodging more than one of them. That wasn’t a bad idea, trying to keep my head down while she got to cover. It was a tried and true tactic in games and real life. But I’d had sixteen years of game-time to master the physics of virtual worlds. Including the bonuses from my gear, my STR was 141 and my DEX was 152. While that was nothing compared to my 412 CHA, it was still impressive enough that I could break from ‘real’ physics in small ways.

I didn’t bother diving for cover of my own, or going around the wall to attack Kali, who was getting more distracted by the Euphoria spell by the second. No, I ran straight for the six-foot high wall, and jumped, landing on the wall with a grace I’d never have in real life, before doing a forward flip over the wall, my blades slashing out. Kali screamed, but this time in pain as her dagger fell to the sand, still clutched in her severed hand.

With a feral look, Kali backed away from me, using a priestess spell to stop the bleeding. With her remaining hand, she tried to pull out a black book that was clearly a grimoire from her inventory, but with a flick of the eyes my Dark Tentacles were upon her, knocking the book away, and grasping for Kali. But Kali still had a few tricks up her sleeve, it seemed. As she scrambled away from the tentacles, she pulled out a small paper charm, and tore it with her teeth.

It was a Summon Token, apparently, because with a flash of light, Zaor, the zombie fighter, appeared on the sand, summoned by magic, and therefore not breaking the rules. Clever bitch, to have summon tokens for her undead. While normally used to summon items like legendary weapons from the vaults they were safekept in, or summoning an animal companion who had been allowed to roam free while you entered a dungeon, they could be used on players. Most didn’t like giving another person that much control over them, however. But if they were already your pawns…

I put such thoughts aside, and yelled, “Crescent Moon Slash!” With a slash of Munsuraisa, I unleashed a blue-white wave of energy at my two foes, catching both of them unprepared. Kali wasn’t the only one with hidden trump cards. Still, Zaor didn’t look too badly off, having taken the attack mainly across the chain shirt he wore, and his crossed sword and shield. He was damaged, but undead felt no pain, and didn’t suffer from bleed effects. Kali, on the other hand, screamed in pain as the light blade caught her in the chest, and Munsuraisa’s chance to ignore armor kicked in, causing blood to go flying as the blade of light tore her open.

At my direction, the tentacles rose up and threw Zaor against the wall and pin him there while he was stunned from the sudden attack, and I darted forward, blades shining in the light. Kali brought up her good arm to try and defend herself, but that only caused her to lose that arm, as well, just above the elbow, as my blades touched her flesh again. I whirled, and my blades of the Moon and Sun slashed out, removing Kali’s legs, and she fell, a wailing mess, to the sand.

But she was still not dead. I had crippled her, and grievously wounded her, but she still had HP left, which meant she could still fight, according to the system. Sheathing my swords, I kicked the bitch hard, forcing her onto her back. She squirmed, but was like a tortoise on her back now that she’d lost her limbs. And I still hadn’t released her from Euphoria.

But that was enough playing with my food. I didn’t want her fighting through the pain to attempt some sort of reversal. I pulled out my trusty Sacrificial Dagger, and plunged it down into Kali’s heart, ending the match.

For sacrificing your foe, you gain +5 INT.

There was a flash of light, and then I was back in the room I’d left, as were Zaor and Kali’s body, her dropped dagger and book next to her. Though the result of the duel was obvious, a window popped up, just to make things clear.

The Demon’s Duel has been concluded. Zayn Darkmore has triumphed over Kali Dorna on the sands of the arena. Kali Dorna shall suffer the following death penalty for her loss:

·         All undead under the control of Kali Dorna (including Deathsworn Travelers) will be immediately freed from her control, and upon their destruction may return to life as members of their former races.
·         All other property and funds belonging to Kali Dorna are henceforth ceded to Zayn Darkmore.
·         Prior to logoff, Kali Dorna must suffer the pain of all the tortures she’s inflicted on others in this world, condensed into one minute’s time.
·         Afterwards, the character Kali Dorna will be deleted completely, with the loss of all reincarnation bonuses.

As soon as the box appeared, Kali’s lifeless corpse began screaming in what was surely unbearable agony. After a minute’s time, she fell silent again, and I received a long report of her items and properties, as well as a healthy sum of just over 400 PP, before her body disintegrated into nothingness.


Then the cheering started.


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Friday, September 23, 2016

Chapter 17 - Spoils

Okay, so the base was ours, for now. The Command Center was thoroughly thrashed, but it seemed the pirates were at least smart enough to do basic maintenance, so blowing up one room didn’t cause the whole place to fall apart. Technica happily informed me that the main computer was actually still online, and she now had access to all areas of the base. More importantly, she also had ship and crew rosters, as well as a manifest of all the loot the pirates had on site.

The biggest surprise was the size of this base. I’d thought we’d blocked access to their hangar with the Traveler, but it turned out they had FOUR of the things! We’d only stopped up the southernmost one. The majority of the base was underground, making it cheap to build, and easy to keep atmosphere contained. The four hangar bays were the only way to the surface. I hadn’t noticed since we’d been too busy tracking the pirates, but the base was built into the ground between four craters that were relatively close together, geographically speaking. Of course, there was twenty miles between the doors of Hangar 2 (where we were parked) and Hangar 4, opposite it. Hangars 1 and 3 were similar distances apart.

Of course, they weren’t using ALL of that space. The base apparently held up to a thousand people, but other than some storage bays and work rooms near the hangars, most of the activity went on in the Hub. Four tram lines ran from the hangars to the Hub, and a fifth one ran in a ring connecting the Hangars themselves. This place was a fortified outpost now, but it had the potential to become a true black market haven like Ikthal.

Or, if the pirates got their way, a military base for a revolution. Seemed our pirates were calling themselves some Rithenalese name that translated into ‘Bloody Dawn’. They had been formed after the War. The Empire got themselves spanked by the new kid on the block, who proved that youth and a capacity for unleashing Armageddon on your ass made up for numbers when a supervillain decided he didn’t like you. In the wake of that defeat, the new Empress announced a number of reforms, sharply reducing the military, and making peace with several of the Empire’s neighbors. This pissed off more than a few ‘hawkish’ types, and they eventually decided to try and organize a rebellion to make the Empire ‘great’ again. The piracy thing was simply to fund their efforts. At first.

In the last few years, these pirates had gotten a significant influx of cash, as well as a standing offer to purchase any Human ships and crew that were captured intact, to be shipped Coreward. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Aprico was hedging their bets, trying to use pirates as well as their own people to get our tech. Plus, it gave them a new market to sell to out on the Orion arm. Bastards.

As Technica and I went over the reports, the casualty lists came in. We’d taken on a couple hundred pirates with less than twenty fighters. Things could have gotten real ugly. Even so, we only lost Dogface, real name: Chirik, a Dothraki who worked down in Engineering most of the time as Technica’s second. Poor bastard caught a plasma bolt with his face, after he’d damaged his suit charging through a hastily erected blockade, clearing the way for the rest of the crew. There were some other injuries, but he was our only fatality. I released a breath I hadn’t known I was holding at that. It could have been worse. SHOULD have been worse. Whoever said “Cheaters never prosper” was a liar. With Technica directing the teams, they avoided ambushes, and didn’t have to worry about enemies coming at them from behind. It was like Daddy always says, “Never fight fair, unless you are absolutely certain you can win, or it is a training match with no money riding on it. All that matters in the end is that you’re still standing at the end, and your opponent isn’t.”

By now, I’d made my way to the base commander’s office. It was done up in ‘pirate chic’. In other words, trophies from various hauls had been displayed here. Most of them were worth a pretty penny, but we didn’t have time to strip the base to the bare metal. According to the records we’d found, they still had eight ships out there. Four were on patrol elsewhere in the system, looking for prey. Three were delivering goods to out-system buyers. But one was docked at the cargo station by the fifth planet below, delivering goods to the local black markets. We needed to grab what we could before they came back.

Fortunately, the commander’s office was RIGHT where I wanted to be for the first part of making sure the pirates who weren’t here to greet us had a truly bad day, even after we were gone. It also was good for making me happy. The commander’s personal computer had absolute troves of blackmail information on it, including some surprisingly good quality porn involving certain government officials. They also had definite proof that they were getting paid by Aprico to target humans.

The safe behind the commander’s desk also had goodies. One hundred and sixty thousand galactic credits in untraceable pay chits. It was basically the same as having cash back home. Sure, most people used credit, but everyone took cash. Same idea here. The gems and other pretties also got swept into my bag. But the real kicker was the dagger.

Kortan Blood Daggers were very rare, in part because of how they were made. As the name suggested, the blade was forged from blood by means of magic. Only the Kortan High Priests on Kortana V knew the secrets to making the blade, but it was known that each blade required the death of a powerful magic-wielder. That alone would make the blades highly prized as relics, but the enchantments upon them were equally impressive as their origins. No two Blood Daggers were identical, just as no two mages are identical. Each one has their own powers, but they all share an ability to ignore armor. Not pierce, but ignore outright. The blades would not cut anything but living creatures. You could stab it through a piece of paper and the paper would be unharmed when you withdrew the blade. But you could take a man in heavy armor, with energy shields and solid ceramic plates, and cut through it like he was naked. The only defense against a Blood Dagger was to have a naturally tough body, perhaps toughened by magic, or to avoid being hit.

This dagger alone was worth more than a superdreadnaught. Possibly it was worth a squadron of superdreadnaughts to the right buyer. The only Blood Dagger I had ever heard of in this arm of the galaxy was an heirloom blade belonging to the Dorgunna Clan, one of the most powerful families in the Kuprulu Alliance. The Kortana system was on the other side of the Core from us, and there were fewer than a thousand of the blades in existence. The number that have been sold to outsiders is a couple dozen, at most. Hell, I’d only seen pictures of them before!

What was most strange, however, was that the blade was clearly marked with the mark of Sanctuary. Daddy hadn’t said anything about buying something like this (and he would have bragged about it, for sure), so I went through the manifests again, and bit back a curse. Looks like the pirates bagged a courier ship coming from Kortana. Fortunately, the message sent with the blade was lying under it.

I didn’t read Kortan, but the auto-translation bit in my HUD gave me a rough approximation. One of their Seers received a vision, it seemed, and had the blade forged from his blood to be given to my father ‘for the days that are to come’. Honestly, I didn’t know what to make of it, but magic types in general can be pretty crazy. The ones that see across time or into alternate realities are the craziest, though. After a while, they usually start losing grip on which reality is the real one. Despite their uses, I don’t hire on precogs for more than a mission or two, and even then only if I have no other choice.

This changed things, of course. The pirates had stolen something intended for the Family. This simply could not be allowed to stand, now that we’d uncovered it. We’d already killed a good portion of their men, and were in the process of robbing them blind (I happened to know that the Traveler’s hold was already nearing capacity with the most valuable of the weapons and goods from the pirates’ storerooms), but we needed to do something a little… more.

I put the question out to the crew, and it was Squirrel (her real name was Natasha, and she was Russian Navy, like Boris, so their codenames automatically became ‘Moose’ and ‘Squirrel’) who came up with the idea I liked best. After looting as much as our cargo hold could carry from the pirates’ base, we’d set up a nice little ‘going away’ present on a timer in their power core. They were using a Type IV Fusion reactor to provide power on this moon, which was an older design, and fairly stable. Of course, fusion reactors tended to react poorly to explosives, which is why we placed some of the pirates’ own explosive charges all around the reactor. We were going to blow this place to hell once it was in the rear view.

Why not hunt down all the pirate ships and eradicate them? Because we still had deliveries to make, and I wanted the damn stasis pods off my ship. And blindly charging after an enemy was fighting stupid. Daddy always told us to fight smart. So we’d wait, and if we came across them again, we’d kill them. I’d also pass their information along to the Empire, so they could hunt them. But the loss of this base and all the booty it held would cripple their operation, perhaps permanently. That would have to do, for now.

While the loading was going on, I went and explored the base a little. I’d gotten the Blood Dagger for Daddy, and a bunch of pretties to sell for the ship and her crew, but a couple personal souvenirs wouldn’t hurt, especially since we were going to blast everything into space dust, anyways. So where was the best place to look for souvenirs? The commander’s quarters, of course!

Turned out my intuition was spot on, since the Commander apparently really liked his booze, booty, and beauties. The whole place was decked out like a traditional Rithenalese harem room from one of their older tales. No less than four Rithenalese females were chained to the bed, all naked. All four flinched at my entrance, two staring dumbly at me before presenting themselves for use, one scowling at me like I was some kind of intruder, and one who looked hopeful when she recognized I wasn’t like the pirates.

Angry bitch spoke up, “You’re not allowed in here! This is Commander Drax’s private quarters!”

“All the pirates in this base are dead. I’m just here for some souvenirs before we head off. Got deliveries to make, after all.” I added a bit of extra nonchalance to it, just to piss the girl off. She was clearly the ‘favorite’ of the group, and likely jealously held on to any power she had. Hell, she probably snitched on anyone she could to this Drax, just to prove how useful she was. I’d seen the type before.

“Lies!”

I ignored the angry bitch, and continued searching the room. I found some nice shinies, a cloak that would look very good on me, several truly inventive sex toys, and a wicked blaster that would go in my personal armory once I had it checked out. Oh, and keys for the chains holding the four pets to the bed.

I looked back at the four slaves. The two that had presented themselves when I came in still had that vacant look in their eyes, and were still trying to entice me into using them. Their minds were broken. Angry bitch was steaming at the fact that I was ignoring her, and not acknowledging her power in this place. Made me want to laugh, honestly. But the fourth… She was still looking at me hopefully, but hadn’t said anything, not yet.

Looking at her, I said, “What’s your name, hmm? And how’d you end up here?”

She looked up at me, and said, “Dajana Soren. I’m here because my brother was in debt to these pirates, and sold me off to cover his debts. Then the pirates killed him anyways.”

“How long have you been here?”

“A tenth of a cycle? Hard to say. I’m a sexpet, not exactly allowed out and about.”

“Any skills to speak of? Other than taking dick?”

“I was a student before I got taken. But I don’t have anything to go back to. My brother was my only family, and he’s dead. I was studying computers before I got sold, though.”

“Can you set an autopilot on a shuttle?”

“Yeah, if it isn’t too old. Most of them have similar systems.”

“Fine.” I unlocked her collar. “Head to Hangar 3. There are some in-system shuttles there, and you can take one down to the fifth planet. The authorities there will help you.”

She rubbed her neck and said, “Can’t I come with you?”

I shook my head. “I’m not running a charity, girl. Because I’m a nice gal, I’m unlocking your collar, and giving you the chance to get out of here. I already got a couple whores on my ship to relieve stress for me and my crew, and you have no skills other than lying on your back with your legs spread. So get out of here, while the getting’s good.”


Unsurprisingly, she got moving.



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Friday, September 16, 2016

Chapter 44 - Operation: Jailbreak, Part 2

Author's Note:

I am so sorry for the delay in this latest chapter. For those who don't know, I attend DragonCon every year, so immediately before Labor Day weekend, I was prepping for the trip. During the con, I got word that I'd been hired for a new job. The day I returned from Con, I gave my notice at my old job, and started training at the new job. Since then, I've been doubling up as I get training in my new job, and served out my two weeks at the old job, even having to skip a night of my weekly D&D game. To say I haven't been able to sit down and write is something of an understatement. Things should go back to normal after this, as my last day at the old job is Saturday, but I just wanted to thank you all for your patience.

--------------------

Once we’d all geared up, I turned to Hrozne, and said, “So, what’s the deal between you and Kali, anyways? How’d you wind up getting locked up down here with my girls?”

Hrozne grimaced. “I started as a Drow to have fun being the heel, you know? Most times, they don’t let you go and play the ‘villain’ races, so it was fun to have a chance to do something new. Especially with me going on the ‘dark’ paths, as far as classes go.” Shi paused, and then said, “After the tutorial, I was in the city of Dehmedet, and joined up with a group of other Drow Travelers. Kali was the leader of that group.”

“At first, she wasn’t that bad. In fact, she was a decent guild leader, back in other worlds. She led the Black Citadel Clan in WoD. Ravenna was her name back then. I think she reincarnated here. For a while, things were good. She knew a bunch of ways to build our strength and was good at getting the locals to lend a helping hand. But then the forums exploded with that business with Chainbreaker and Chainmaker, and everything changed.”

Crud. I knew Ravenna, and the Black Citadel Clan. They were a strictly PK clan. It was said in WoD that there were four hundred and thirty-seven different ways to kill another player, and that the Black Citadel had come up with three hundred and twelve of them. Which isn’t to say that the Black Citadel were all psychos. Some just used the PvP as therapy, working out their aggressions in a ‘safe’ manner. We treated them like just another challenge to overcome, even though it sometimes made traveling between cities dangerous.

But Ravenna, she was a piece of work. She had enough issues that all the therapy in the world wouldn’t help her. One time, we raided her warehouse in the city of Ostrogoth to complete a quest chain that gave the Lords special privileges in the human kingdoms. What we found was that the nutjob had been ‘experimenting’ on PCs and NPCs alike. Meaning live dissections. The kind of thing serial killers would have squirmed at. If she was in a place like AAO…

“So, the bitch heard that Travelers could be made into slaves, and I guess being a Necro, she decided to start testing those powers?”

Hrozne sighed. “Right in one. It hasn’t made it big on the forums since there are only a couple dozen of us who chose home-born Drow as our starters so far, but as far as I know, I’m the last Traveler that started as a Drow in the Underdark that isn’t one of her undead pets. And even if they’re destroyed, they return as an undead under her control.”

I grimaced. That wasn’t good. Not good at all. “How did she get so much power, so fast? I thought creating permanent undead, or at least ones that had any use, took a good deal of material components.”

“It does. One of the noble houses sees the ‘benefits’ of undead cannon fodder with the abilities of Travelers, who return from being destroyed still bound to their necromancer. She’s entered into a partnership with them, made easier because she’s a Priestess of Lolth. They help with her experiments, and she helps them fight.”

“And how’d you wind up here, instead of her thrall?”

“When she started turning the rest of our group, I split, trying to escape her clutches before the same happened to me. Along the way, I met a follower of Elistraee. We had the idea to make it to the surface, warn the kingdoms of what was going on, and hopefully get out of Kali’s reach.”

“And then?”

“We managed to get to this fortress before Kali could catch up to us, but the House had used magic to communicate ahead of us. We split up, to try and maximize the chances that one of us would break through and warn the surface of the coming trouble. If you’re here, can I hope that Tolthe made it through?”

I shook my head. “He managed to disguise himself as part of a raid Kali led on a nearby elven village.” I briefly described what happened at Ullelone, and saw Hrozne shudder at the mention of the black mist. “We were already headed to the dungeon, so while others track down and eliminate the undead, we need to put that bitch down.”

“Any ideas on how to do that? She is a Traveler, after all. Even if we kill her, she’ll be back.”

I sighed, and then said, “There may be a way. But I’ll need to get to Kali, and convince her to at least speak instead of trying to kill us off the bat. Even then, the risks are not small. Short of getting admins to ban her, like we did in WoD whenever she stepped over the line, or enslaving her myself, it is the only way. But there aren’t any rules being broken for the Admins to ban her for, and I don’t trust that bitch anywhere near my girls.”

I ignored the confused looks from Hrozne and the girls. Yukiko, it seemed, had an inkling of what I was considering, and was glaring daggers at me. I didn’t like the idea much, either, but this was the only way. Without another word, I turned, and led the way out of the room. Time to hunt a psycho.

*****

Thankfully, Hrozne had been through enough of the fortress to give us basic map data. Compared with my own maps, we had a good general layout of the fortress, or at least this floor. But a group of eight could only move so quickly and still maintain any degree of stealth, so it was slow going. My stealth skills went up a lot due to all the sneaking around, which was good, since I’d been doing ‘open’ battles for so long that I had really neglected them. At some point, I was going to have to do some serious skill grinding. Only my Sword Mastery and Seduction skills had gotten to ‘Advanced’, though I now had several skills in ‘Intermediate’. But many of my skills were still in ‘Beginner’.

That was an issue for another time, however. As we eliminated another patrol as silently as possible, I sighed, and looked to my two captive Drowesses. “Where is Kali hiding? Speak.”

They glared at me, as they had been since I gave them their new ‘accessories’, but I didn’t care about that. Vashti struggled against the compulsion, but said, “Her rooms are on the lowest level, next to the altar. She’s taken over as the priestess of the dark shrine.”

“How many people are likely to be in the shrine?”

Enania glared, and said, “None, at this time. But wait a while, and you’ll get to star in one of the rituals.”

I looked at Enania, and smiled, “For that, you aren’t getting lube tonight.” The newcomers looked puzzled, if not at my words, then at the cringe my girls made at the thought. I was going to have fun punishing the two Drowesses, but that would have to wait until we were someplace a lot safer. But still, the wench’s words brought something to mind, and I checked the interface for my Dark Portal spell, and saw that the ‘Scheming Caverns’ had been listed as one of the dark shrines I had visited before. Seems that I didn’t need to know I was in a dark shrine, so long as I physically went there, and was conscious at the time.

I took a breath, and said, “All right, Vashti, Enania, you are forbidden from speaking, except to warn me or the party about threats, unless I ask you a specific question. You will fight to your utmost to protect myself and the rest of my party. Understand?” They both nodded, so I turned my attention to the rest of the group. “Seems the stupid bitch took me to the shrine to interrogate me. Probably was going to do some ritual before I pissed her off too much. She didn’t appreciate it when I said she was hiding in the dark because she was fat and ugly.”

Della shook her head, “Master, only you would say that to a woman in that sort of situation.”

I grinned. “Point is, though, that I can open a portal there, so we can try and decapitate this menace before things get out of hand.”

“We’ll be leaving a lot of potential reinforcements between us and the door if you do that, Master.”

“True, but we only have a little time before they discover we’re missing. I’d rather not fight Kali with her full group of guards. Or give her a chance to run away.” The others nodded reluctantly at this. After all, the last dungeon would have been a lot easier if we could have skipped the whole fighting through seven layers of sins thing, and just taken out the leader.

Seeing no one disagree with my logic, I took a breath, and opened a Dark Portal to the bottom of the dungeon. Yes, it was a cheat, but then, the stupid bitch should have thought about the dangers of bringing live Travelers to the bottom of a dungeon. What did she think would happen, that we’d just sit around and wait until we became her undead?

I shook off the thoughts as we stepped through the portal. This time, we had light sources ready, including magic lanterns that floated nearby. Looking around, I could see that this shrine was clearly dedicated to Lolth, the Spider Queen. Fortunately, the portal was largely soundless, and so our arrival was unmarked. Well, unmarked by any sentient being.

Unfortunately, the wide hall had ten giant spiders inside it, situated on the weblike structures. None too pleased with the presence of nondrow in the shrine (or the lights we brought with us), they leaped in to attack. They were only level 20 each, more ceremonial guardians than anything else, but they served to make an effective amount of racket before they died, which sounded the alarm.

From one of the side chambers, a wild-eyed, half-dressed drow female ran out, with four zombies trailing in her wake.

Kali Dorna
Drow Elf Female
Level 40 Legion Lord (Necromancer) / Priestess
Titles: Sadist, Lichloved, Spiderkissed, Calamity, Elfslayer, Manslayer, Womanslayer

As I thought, the woman was Kali, who was none too pleased to see us in her sanctum, killing her spiders. But it looks like we caught her unawares, since she was unarmored, and only had a wicked looking dagger in her hand. She was also half-naked, like she had hastily thrown on some clothes. Given that the only ones that came out of her room with her were zombies, I didn’t want to know what they were up to.

Zaor Naezenna
Drow Elf Zombie Male
Level 20 Fighter / Ranger
Titles: Deathsworn

Dakath Kelleth
Drow Elf Zombie Male
Level 10 Mage
Titles: Deathsworn

Hycis Enynore
Drow Elf Zombie Female
Level 23 Rogue / Ranger
Titles: Deathsworn

Tiatha Fayaurus
Drow Elf Zombie Female
Level 30 Fire Sorceress / Priestess
Titles; Deathsworn

The other wretches were all half-dressed as well, and clearly zombies. Worse, it looked like these were some of the players that Kali had enslaved, as I was immediately bombarded by pleas for help in the area chat. Of course NPCs wouldn’t see that, but for Yukiko, Hrozne, and myself, it became clear in an instant what was going on. Apparently, enslaving her prey as undead wasn’t enough, but Kali got off on ‘enjoying’ herself with them like they were glorified dildos. But because they were zombies, they didn’t even get to feel pleasure! Worse, it seemed that they were the lucky ones who had finally died after her ‘playtime’ in torture chambers, just like in WoD, but worse.

Now, no one could accuse me of being a ‘hero’ or ‘champion of justice’ in this game, but there were some things I didn’t care for. People trying to turn everyone into the legion of the undead under her thrall was one of them. The sick torture chambers I knew Kali had hidden around her somewhere were another. But mainly, she had attacked me and mine, and that meant there was going to be no mercy.


Stepping forward so that Kali could see me clearly, I called out, “Kali Dorna, by the contract of Terms and Regulations laid down by Icestorm, I challenge you to the Demon’s Duel!”


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Zayn's Character sheet:

Name
Zayn Darkmore
Alignment
Chaotic Evil
Level
31
Race
Incubus
Class
Warlock
Sub-Class
Dominator
Experience
465000/496000
Profession
Slave Trainer
HP
2030/2030
MP
2420/2520
HP Regen
14.5 per min
MP Regen
20.0 per min
Fame
2310
Infamy
1480
925 PP
3 GP
9 SP
5 CP

Attributes
STR
126(141)
INT
140(190)
DEX
127 (152)
WIS
129(136)
CON
130(145)
CHA
373(412)
Luck
98
Attack
+60
Defense
+480
???

Points Remaining: 5

Titles
The Executioner, The Sexecutioner, Corrupter, Master Chainmaker, Machiavelli, Dragonfriend, Dragon Consort, Slave Trader, Trophy Hunter, Harem King, Stud Horse, Undead Bane

Resistances
Piercing
30%
Bludgeoning
30%
Slashing
30%
Fire
25%
Ice
5%
Water
5%
Wind
5%
Lightning
5%
Earth
5%
Light
5%
Dark
45%
Charm
40%
-50% Charm Resistance vs. Females (-100% if CHA equal or lower than foe)
+25% Stun resistance to attacks vs. crotch
+60% Hellfire Resistance
Diety
Sharess

Proficiencies
Simple Weapons
Exotic Weapon (Spit)
Swords
Dual Wielding
Bows
Exotic Weapon (Whips)
Light Armor
Hellfire

Qualities
Black Bible of Kitami Reika
How to Serve Woman
Infinite Blade Works
Subs or Dubs?
Strange Attraction
Sucker for a Pretty Face
The Usual Suspects
Why Would You Post Something Like That?

Skills
Pheromones – Basic 6 (8%)
Charming Gaze - Beginner 6 (30%)
Dark Magic – Intermediate 5 (15%)
Charm Magic – Intermediate 3 (8%)
Cooking - Intermediate 4 (20%)
Sword Mastery – Advanced 1 (25%)
Survival - Beginner 7 (56%)
Skinning - Beginner 8 (1%)
Mining - Beginner 8 (0%)
Herbalist - Beginner 9 (2%)
Alchemy - Beginner 5 (0%)
Leatherworking - Beginner 6 (0%)
Blacksmithing - Beginner 3 (0%)
Tailoring – Basic 6 (0%)
Enchanting – Basic 9(10%)
Architect - Beginner 1 (0%)
Seduction – Advanced 1 (0%)
Negotiation – Basic 6 (0%)
Gambling - Beginner 8 (0%)
Disguise - Beginner 3 (0%)
Lying – Intermediate 4 (0%)
Sneak – Intermediate 1 (10%)
Move Silently – Intermediate 1 (10%)
Identify – Intermediate 1 (18%)
Poisoner - Beginner 6 (0%)
Observe – Intermediate 3 (75%)
Sleight of Hand – Beginner 9 (0%)
Bow Mastery – Basic 5 (20%)
Throwing - Beginner 4 (0%)
Unarmed Combat Mastery - Beginner 8 (0%)
Intimidation – Basic 8 (0%)
Whip Mastery - Beginner 8 (0%)
Training – Intermediate 9 (0%)
Dagger Mastery – Intermediate 1 (10%)
Hellfire Mastery – Basic 6 (2%)

Class Benefits
Warlock
+20% with Dark Spells
+20 MP per Level
Light Armor Proficiency
Hellfire
Skills and Spells added

Level 10: Hellfire Blade
Level 20: Demon’s Gaze – See in darkness, even magical darkness.
Level 30: Summon Hellsteed – Summon a horse from the nether planes to serve as a mount.
Sub-Class Benefits
Dominator
+20% with Social Skills
+20% Charm Resistance
+20 HP per Level
Thrall
New Spells added!

Level 20: Shield of Charisma – Add CHA to Defense when wearing Light armor or No armor.
Profession Benefits
Slave Trainer
Gain skills, proficiencies, recipes.
+10% to Training
+15% to Whips

Level 10: Obedience Training – Slaves under your command are more obedient, and better at following orders. Slaves are +5% to actions while following orders.
Level 20: Slaver’s Mark – Slaves branded with your mark sell for 10% more.
Level 30: Breaker – Attempts to break a troublesome slave’s resistance +10%.

Perks
Able Learner
Silver-Tongued Devil
Artisan Soul
Mercantile
Strength Focus
Dexterity Focus
Constitution Focus
Intelligence Focus
Wisdom Focus
Charisma Focus
Luck Focus
Soulforged Weapon (x2)

Subordinates
Slaves:
Della Smith
Severa Rex
Kiyabu Yukiko
Athtar Keystina
Nithroel Crana
Vashti Erxidor
Enania Xyrzumin

Thralls:
Shagar Bloodthistle