Sunday, August 6, 2017

Chapter 92 - Trial of the Gods: Tempus

“So are we just not going to comment on how Lolth basically put us all on a suicide mission?”

“Ah, c’mon, Severa. It could have been a lot worse, you know. We’re still alive, and there’s definitely a chance we’ll survive, especially if we can find a few more dungeons before we go and try our hand at the quest.”

“Della, how can you say that? She’s literally sending us after the heavy hitters of the entire drow race!”

I decided to cut off that line of conversation as we emerged onto the next floor. “Because it wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining for her if we didn’t have some chance of succeeding. Della is right. This is a dangerous quest, probably the most dangerous we’ve ever gotten, but we will prepare properly before making our move, especially when it comes to the Archmage. If we are lucky, we will be able to find conspirators who are more than happy to help our quest in order to improve their own positions.”

Floor Law
Glorious Combat
All combat must be done with strength of arms alone. Spells designed to damage or attack an enemy are disabled. Spells designed to heal or enhance martial combatants remain unchanged.

“Oh good. This has to be the floor devoted to Tempus. Looks like it is time for a brawl. Yukiko, you lead. Hrozne and I will flank you. Severa and Kamla take the rear. Nithroel on overwatch. Jastra support where you can, either with your singing or by taking out enemies that slip through. Same with you Kylana, support or take out enemies. Della, heals.”

That was all the time we had for planning, because as the floor law was displayed, the shadows cleared, and it became obvious that we were in an arena. In fact, it looked like the same arena that I’d fought my Demon’s Duels in, or a larger version of it. And we were positioned directly in the center of the arena.

Our opponents were all around us. A variety of races, but all were melee fighters of some kind. Knights in armor, rogues with deadly daggers, monks with fists of steel, barbarians wielding mighty two-handed weapons, and more. They varied in level, from 20 to 70. That wasn’t the bad thing. The bad thing was the numbers. According to Nithroel, we were facing almost four hundred enemies.

Damn, Tempus wasn’t going to give us a break on this floor, that was for sure. Well, maybe he did. As the first enemies crashed into us, I saw that while they were numerous, they weren’t coordinating their attacks. This was a mob, not an army. We just needed to get to a defensible position, somewhere that we could face them without being surrounded…

THERE! With a yell, I rallied my team, and we charged through a section that had weaker enemies, forcing our way through to a section of broken wall nearby. It was only eight feet high, but it was solid, and had formerly been the corner of whatever building it had once been part of, giving us cover frokm two directions. That was what we needed, something solid to put our backs to so we could focus all our power outward.

We won our way to the wall, thanks to the power of our attacks, and the fact that this section of the encirclement had mostly level 20s in it, which Yukiko, Hrozne, and I could cut down like a scythe through wheat. Oh, they were still dangerous if we got cocky, or were distracted by other threats and they were able to get through our guard, but they weren’t as big an issue as you might think. Weight of numbers only matters when those numbers can be brought to bear.

Now, with our backs to the walls, we could implement a defense that wasn’t certain to get us all killed. Della and Nithroel stayed in the back, dispensing healing as judiciously as possible, trying to stretch their MP as far as it would go. Kylana stayed with them, dispersing buffs on the rest of us, favoring the lower-powered, longer lasting ones rather than the big hitting ones that would be gone in a minute or less.

The other six of us broke into three pairs: myself and Severa, Yukiko and Jastra, Hrozne and Kamla. We fought close enough that we could support another pair if needed, but far enough that we weren’t getting in eachother’s way. The forward person in each pair took the brunt of the attack, while the support made sure no one got around the sides to attack the rear, or ganged up on the forward person. When the forward person tired, or got low on HP or MP, they switched, allowing them to catch their breath, and heal. Would never work in real life, but this was one time where the game mechanics helped us somewhat.

The game physics didn’t help us with the fact that blood was staining the sand, or that we soon had piles of bodies in front of our position. It only takes stepping on one limb of a fallen warrior to screw up your balance, and leave you open for all kinds of counters. There’s a reason why no one likes fighting on top of a pile of bodies, besides the ghoulish aspects of it.

In frustration, Hrozne unleashed one of hir spells that caused a corpse to rise as a temporary minion, and to all of our surprise, it worked! The spell did not damage an enemy, nor was it an attack. Sure, the minion was just a low-tier skeleton or zombie, losing several levels from what it had in life, but extra bodies attacking our enemy took pressure off the rest of us. Hrozne’s eyes met mine, and we shared a quick nod, before I began issuing orders again.

“Nithroel to the front! Hrozne to support. Send your minions out to raise hell. Della, watch your heals. We don’t want to take out any of our new friends by mistake! Everyone else, the plan remains the same. Hold the line, and let Hrozne do hir job, clearing the corpses from in front of us!”

With a war cry, Nithroel slammed into the front of the fighting, eager to get into the thick of things, her hammer crashing down upon one unfortunate elf warrior’s head and crushing it like a grape. Hrozne raised the fallen dwarf to the elf’s side as a skeleton, flesh melting off the bones as the dwarf rose, still wearing its armor and carrying a two-handed hammer in its hands. The skeleton turned, and began swinging that great hammer, advancing into the throng, mindlessly following its task to cause as much damage ot the enemy as possible.

Another skeleton soon followed that one, and then another. All the while, those of us on the front lines kept slaying the forces arrayed against us. When Nithroel had made her first count, it looked like we were facing odds of forty to one. Of course, we were cheating, using the piece of wall to limit the number of enemies who could attack us at once, and keeping them from being able to divide us. The fact that we could have dedicated healing and buff support, along with being able to switch to rest and recover helped greatly extend our HP and MP. In real life, we would have been dead long before now.

Even so, it was the skeletons that began to turn the fight for us. The enemy forces were a mob, not an army, so they had no dedicated healers keeping track of how much damage the front lines were taking. This meant that the skeletons helped soften up the enemy, sometimes even distracting them enough that we could get in a backstabbing sneak attack.

Slowly, the numbers began moving in our direction. 40 to 1 had become closer to 35 to 1 by the time we discovered the trick with the skeletons. Not much change in the odds, yet fifty men lay dead upon the field. Fifty men that began rising one by one as skeletons to join us. 35 to 1 became 20 to 1 before we knew it. I don’t know what caused us to start, but we began singing as we fought, punctuating the score with the screams of our enemies and sound of steel against steel.

And then there were only ninety enemies left upon the field. Mere 10 to 1 odds, not counting the skeletons? After what we had been through so far, this looked like the light at the end of the tunnel. Abandoning the defensive, we now launched a counter attack on the thoroughly demoralized enemy, springing upon them like ravenous man-eating tigers. The enemy faltered, and then broke, running for their lives as they attempted to flee the arena. The skeletons gave chase, slaughtering several as they ran.

Tedus Doomhammer
Stormborn Half-Giant Male
Level 70 Battle Raper (Barbarian) / Giant Basher (Fighter)
Titles: Tough One, Hammerer, Human Bane, Ork Bane, Sexecutioner, Dragon Slayer, Dragon Layer

Zinar Wrathspeak
Wildkin Half-Giant Female
Level 70 Skald (Priestess) / Snu-Snu Warrior (Fighter)
Titles: Tough One, Sexecutioner, Human Bane, Manslayer, Ork Bane, Dwarf Bane, Pixie Bane

But not all the enemy warriors broke. Two in particular stood tall over the rest. That was easy since they were both about ten feet tall, being half-giants. Looking over the information I got from analyzing them, I didn’t really want to know what went into making these two, or how they came to be here. I have ventured the wicked depths of 4chan, and have enough nightmares for one lifetime, thanks very much.

By this point, only about ten fighters rallied around the two pillars. Well, ‘rallied’ might be a bit kind. Say rather that they cowered behind them using these two half-giants as giant meat shields, hoping to get in some lucky hits while we were distracted. But then, those who were left were all in the 30-40 range. The lowest leveled and the highest leveled fighters (other than the two pillars) had met their fate by now.

Yukiko and I led the charge against the two massive warriors, while the others either supported us or went about eliminating the hangers on. Yukiko broke left, taking the giant with the large hammer, while I turned to the right, and moved in on the Skald with her mace and shield. Now that we were in the home stretch, Kylana stopped saving her MP, and gave both of us the size-increasing buff, causing us to grow to match the giants’ size.

I lost track of Yukiko’s fight as I crashed into the Skald. I hadn’t had much chance to get into a prolonged battle against a single foe with my blades since hitting level 50. Entirely my fault, of course, since we used blitzkrieg tactics, but now I was getting a chance to try out the abilities I’d gained on my two soulforged weapons when I hit 50. Munsuraisa had gained the Sundering Blade ability, which had a 10% chance of reducing the enemy’s Defense by 20 until their armor could be repaired, making them vulnerable to further attacks. Taiyo no Tsubasa gained the Spellbane ability, which meant that 1/4 of the damage my Sun Blade did was also dealt to their MP.

The skald roared in frustration as she saw me chipping away at her defenses and MP, all the while steadily reducing her HP. The frustration came from my blades healing me as I did damage, along with Della’s spells as needed. I would outlast her in a battle of attrition, and she knew it. So she tried to overwhelm me with power, pushing her MP into strengthening her attacks. I respected that kind of tactic. Knowing your opponent can outlast you, you instead attempt to defeat them quickly, before their endurance can come into play.

Unfortunately for her, I was ready for such a tactic. As she charged at me, I stepped to the side, and then caught her mace hand in mine, using her momentum to execute a shoulder throw. When she was on the ground, I shifted into my drake form, and stradled her. Clawed hands kept her mace and shield at bay, while my fangs dropped down, ripping out chunks of her flesh as she screamed in pain and terror. The sight of a dragon eating one of their pillars of defense caused the rest of the warriors to break completely, and when the hammer-wielding barbarian fell to Yukiko and the others, all those that remained could do was beg for a swift death, instead of being eaten alive like the skald was.

Trial of Tempus passed. The Lord of Battles has tested your mettle by throwing you into combat against incredible odds. You did not falter. You did not break. Instead, you fought with valor, and used what advantages you could find to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women.
HP and MP restored to full. All cooldowns reset.
All rewards delayed until completion of the Trial of the Gods.

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Be sure to read my published works!

Frozen Soul series (Sci-Fi Supervillain story):
Tales of the Void Traveler

Rules-Free VRMMO Life (Dark Fantasy LitRPG):
Volume 2 - Beginning the Journey
Volume 4 - To the Deeps

Into the Black (Sci-Fi LitRPG):
Book III - Alpha Centauri

The Kalipshae Affair (A First Contact Short Story):

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