Chapter 3 – Confronting the Demon
The goddess Pity was sitting on the throne of the dead. Her face was a mask hiding her anger. Beauty had started up an archaic rite and was playing around leaving work to pile up. The shift right now was supposed to be Pity’s time off, yet she was sorting dead for an extended shift. She looked over at the dark stone wall, to see a monitor displaying the game Beauty started.
A cruel smile made its way across Pity’s face. There was a reason the rite wasn’t enacted anymore; a reason aside from the lack of knights. During a previous rite, one of the knights attacked the goddess overseer nearly killing her. During a rite, gods became vulnerable. Ignoring the startled man sitting scared in front of the throne, Pity walked over the monitor. Her hand glowed as she touched the screen. Pity wouldn’t let Beauty get out of work for long. Using her magic she made some changes to the game. If Beauty died Pity’s workload wouldn’t go down, but if she was hurt she might not try anything like that again.
Hawk’s blade swept low, striking a boar and sending it backwards into a tree. Moments ago he was able to kill the creatures in one swing but now he couldn’t cut its hide. It was disturbing to say the least. Did the Demon know they were there? Could the Demon strengthen its allies? Choon Hoar was scrying for magic but couldn’t find any in use. The animals simply got instantly stronger. Betting that it was related to the Demon, the pair continued searching with desperation. They hoped that once they slay the creature the rest would weaken again. The ‘Detect Magic’ Skill allowed Choon Hoar to sense magic being use. The stronger the magic the further away she could sense it. Her sensitivity also increased with level. Whenever she detected anything the pair immediately investigated. They had yet to encounter anything other than players from that approach but it was the best plan they had.
Late in the morning they detected a strong burst of power and headed for it. Running in the direction it came from they were greeted by the revolting smell of burning flesh. They stood in a clearing in the woods; but not a natural one. The ground and trees, all the earth in a near perfect circle, had been burnt to ash. In the centre was a large lizard, the size of a Komodo dragon, with black and yellow scales. The creature had three long horns on its small head, like a narrow triceratops without a frill, and small vents along its back intermittently let out bursts of green fire. The creatures yellow eyes moved from the burnt people in front of it to the new people that entered the clearing from its side.
Believing that such a creature had to be the Demon Hawk ran forward, yelling, “Choon, watch out for its blood drain and attack after I draw its fire.”
Choon Hoar nodded and started to prepare a powerful attack. Hawk slashed at the creature but couldn’t so much as scratch its scales. The monster let out a powerful fire breath that narrowly missed Hawk, as he dodged to the side, rolling back onto his feet. Despite avoiding the hit, the heat from the attack still burnt his arm and reduced his health by a tenth. Using the opportunity made by it focusing on Hawk, Choon struck out with a barrage of ice bullets. The attack few accurately, the result of her training, but melted on the creature’s skin before doing any damage.
Seeing her attack had no effect, she immediately began to work on a more powerful spell. It wasn’t good, however. She had used most of her magic with the barrage and needed time for it to recover. Normally the recovery time wasn’t a problem, with hawk attracting attention and buying her time. This time however, things didn’t go their way. The lizard ignored Hawk, knowing he couldn’t break through its armour. With movements that seemed faster than its fat body should manage, it reached Choon and impaled her thin leg with a long horn. She let out a cry as she fell to the ground. Tears fell as she faced the creature, seeming an embodiment of death. As fire was about to draw from its mouth; Hawk Jumper onto its back.
The fires on the creatures back burnt at his body and his weapon had fallen apart, but he still held on, knowing that if he were to let go it would once again focus on Choon. His Health bar flashed red warning him that he was near his end and pain raged all through his body. He took some of the flint daggers from the remains of his once proud sword and started shoving them down the lizard’s vents.
The creature screeched a horrible sound and through Hawk from its back. Flying, Hawk collided with a tree with considerable force. Unable to stand but unwilling to miss and opportunity, Choon Hoar braced herself on a stone as she unleashed her most powerful spell. A pillar of hard, sharp ice struck hit into the creature’s belly. Blue blood melted the ice as the lizard struggled to maintain its footing. Holding onto life more out of hate then capacity; it moved slowly toward Choon. Its Yellow eyes filled with blood. Its green flames spluttered.
Choon could see its heavy body dragging towards her but she could do nothing to avoid it with her broken leg. Hawk was beaten in the other side of the clearing; she couldn’t tell if he was dead or alive. Either way he couldn’t save her. Her mana was drained from the last attack. She couldn’t run. She couldn’t attack. Hawk couldn’t save her. She closed her eyes and in tears prayed. Prayed that someone would save her; prayed that this death would at least hurt less the last one. The last time she died a piece of metal struck into her stomach and she bled out, cold despite the fire. She could see some irony in that she would die having unthinkingly done the same thing to the lizard.
Unwilling to open her eyes she could feel the creature’s horn pressed against her head. There was only moments left in her second life and she knew it. She would never see her sister or her parents again.
Marigold slept in. She only intended to get a couple hours rest but ended up sleeping till late. It was still before noon but her wolves had already gone hunting. Even if they left her they would be able to find her anywhere in the woods. When she reached level 6 she used the Major Stat point she gained at that level on Charisma. With that, and ‘Animal Control Lv.8’, she was able to get the ‘Animal Empathy’ Skill, which in turn allowed her to understand one word phrases of animals she was familiar with. It wasn’t a particularly useful skill but there were other skills later on that relied on it. She was confident in her ability to hunt by herself at this stage but wouldn’t attack groups or strong individuals without her pets. She noticed, when using healing magic and from the magic of other players, that spells that drew power from health were far stronger than mana power spells. At first she was jealous of the quantity of attacks elemental mages could put out, and of the rate the mana recovered, but when she noticed the disparity between outputs she felt some sense of superiority.
While draining the blood from an unfortunate archer and replacing the skull, she could smell burning flesh on the wind. It annoyed her. “Those foul ghosts.” She thought, “It’s bad enough that they go around preventing me from being revived, but now they’re stinking up the forest.”
Setting off towards the smell she came across impressive battle two ghosts were fighting a salamander and getting beaten by it. It wasn’t a very long fight, over in a couple of minutes, and the battle was ended by the mage’s powerful attack. Mari watched as the lizard lumbered towards the mage. She realised it might be a good opportunity. Seeing the heavy fighter bleeding out and the mage crying in fear, Marigold Snapdragon Lv.7 prepared a spell.