Thursday, March 1, 2018

An NPC's Path: The Dead Rogue

An NPC's Path: The Dead Rogue
by Pavel Kornev

Release - May 30, 2018
Pre-order now -

Quick nav:

Chapter I (1 - 2)

Go to the library

            Virtual worlds are places of boundless freedom. Anyone can become an elven mage or an invisible rogue, join a clan and go on raids, fight, develop their characters and most importantly, escape from the daily grind.
            However, a game is only a game if you can quit. This is something I learned the hard way. I just wanted to let off some steam in virtual reality and ended up getting murdered and imprisoned in the body of one of the undead—slow, clumsy and cursed to die at the hand of other players over and over again.
            The only way out of this awful predicament was to find the legendary Scroll of Rebirth, but the helpless plague-ridden corpse would need to be turned into a real killing machine. If   only people knew what it was like to level up a dead rogue...

Chapter 1


The bracelet was covered with hypoallergenic plastic but the skin underneath still itched like hell. I pulled the tracking device away from my ankle as far as it would go so I could scratch it. The bracelet vibrated and buzzed in reply.
“Relax, Comrade Major,” I quickly said. “All quiet on the western front!”
The tracking device that traced offenders under house arrest was full of various electronic modules such as GPS, GLONASS, Wi-Fi, GSM and even an altimeter, so I was in no doubt that they would have added a simple microphone to it. It did not matter what the actual rank of the controller assigned to me was—a little sympathy goes a long way. At least it was someone to talk to...
It was already my second month of being under house arrest and I already managed to really start missing normal human contact. I wasn't even a hardened criminal or a sociopath—I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I got a job at the wrong place, to be more exact.
It had all started so well! My salary wasn't bad, there was a great package of perks and excellent career prospects, but it all went down the drain when the bank's senior management ended up behind bars accused of money laundering! I was never made part of the illegal scheme, but most of the payments had gone through my department, so the most that my defense attorney could do for me was a concession to get me placed under house arrest. At least it was better than jail.
Ah, here comes my attorney...

I picked up my buzzing smartphone which could only accept incoming calls from a single number and put it to my ear.
“Good evening, Jan!” I was greeted with a clear baritone voice.
“Hello, Boris!”
“Jan, I have good news for you!”
“Are you serious?”
Life hadn't been treating me to good news lately. It was becoming increasingly similar to being repeatedly hit around the head with a hammer.
“Why would I be messing with you? There's been some sort of malfunction in the data center tonight and there is talk that they lost the records of a number of your most dubious transactions. It's unknown whether that's true or not, but the prosecution has finally decided to make a deal. Evidence against Kogan in exchange for becoming a witness instead of one of the accused and complete immunity to prosecution.”
“I agree!” I replied without the smallest hesitation as I had no intention to cover for the bank's former chairman of the board.
“I had no doubt!” Boris laughed. “The deal is in our pocket but it's really important not to do anything stupid now. Relax. Listen to music, watch some TV, get into your gaming box...”
“I thought I was not allowed to use the Internet?” I asked with surprise, looking over at the virtual reality capsule.
“The way it works is completely different. I'm telling you as a lawyer—it won't be considered a breach of your conditions. Tomorrow won't be easy, so I would definitely recommend and even insist that you relax and rest. This is only the beginning of this nerve-wracking mess and we have to stay strong until the last.”
The attorney disconnected, so I threw the smartphone on the sofa and approached the capsule, which I the bank had given me as a bonus for one of my deals. I chronically lacked the time to have a full virtual reality experience and only managed to walk around the starting location which experienced players contemptuously called the “Playpen”. I still managed to get my rogue up to level 9 already. One more level and I could move into the open world.
So why not?
I would at least have a distraction and relax a bit...

The main menu of Towers of Power met me with the gloom and silence of a palace hall. My rogue appeared half a meter above the stone floor and skillfully landed on it in complete silence. It was me that stood up straight.

John Shadow, Rogue. Level 9
Strength: 9
Dexterity: 14
Toughness: 11
Intelligence: 10
Perception: 11

Life: 99
Stamina: 103
Energy: 94
Damage: 6-10

Stealth: +9
Critical damage when attacking in stealth mode, backstabbing or attacking a paralyzed target.

Some stats could have been increased at the expense of others during character formation, but I didn't go for that. Ten points were considered to be the baseline and lower stats would carry penalties. If you decreased Perception, you turned into a half-blind mole with minimal accuracy and no chance of getting a critical hit and if you decreased Intelligence you won't be able to open even the simplest of locks. The purpose of a rogue isn't just stealth attacks, it's a universal character. Just what someone needs that has no friends among the players and no clan.
A pentagram glowed red upon the floor. I stepped inside it and fell through the stones, appearing on the uneven paving of the square, with the graceful Tower of Power reaching to the skies in the middle.
It was late evening in the game. Old Gardens was a small town for newbie players and it sank into the dusk as the sky quickly darkened. However, this was good, as there was nothing better than the darkness for a rogue like myself who was focused on stealth.
I adjusted my weapon belt, which was weighed down by a shortsword and dagger and strode away from the square down one of the narrow side streets. The starting location was not particularly big—the only things interesting for newbies were the city park with its pair of dungeons, the swampy riverside and the catacombs under the monastery. You could get some tasks from the characters populating the town, but they held no interest for me right now. I just wanted to relax.
After pulling a bright green leaf from a tree, I rubbed it between my fingers as I walked. When I smelled it, my nose was filled with a sophisticated and pleasant aroma. Everything in the game seemed to be completely real, but it did not particularly surprise me—I was used to it. Unlike the equipment of their competitors like Swords and Fire or Distant Space, the patented technology of Towers of Power allowed the player to get information about the virtual world and fill in some of the small details themselves. What this basically meant was that the brain became a dedicated server which increased the processing power of the gaming hardware.
So was this smell programmed by the creators of the game or did I think of it myself?
Who knows?
Anyway, it doesn't matter...

The square in front of the monastery was unusually full of people and a monk with a scrap of parchment stepped out of a back alley.
“Could the noble sir clear the city park of the undead?” he asked me, offering me a map.

Do you want to accept the Malicious Corpse quest?

I agreed, took the map and carefully looked through the objectives. They turned out to be as easy as they could be—I just had to kill the slow-moving walking corpse that I already got to hack into pieces a couple of times without being on any quests.
A green dot appeared on the map to mark the cave that I needed and I went off towards the park. The monk did not ask other players for help but returned to the alleyway, to my great relief.
A personal quest? That was absolutely great!
I only had to earn a little more XP to reach level 10. Kill the zombie and immediately get out of the city, where I'll get to relax.

The park was large and neglected. It was surrounded by a decrepit fence that had magical crystals shining with yellow light upon it. Apart from the cave with the lonely walker, there was a descent into a much larger dungeon somewhere among the trees, but the Skeleton Lord that lived on its bottom level could only be defeated by a large group of players. I never went there and I was satisfied with hunting foxes, wolves and random undead.
After I crossed a stone bridge over the quiet little river and its swampy banks I activated stealth mode and dissolved into the shadows. My energy bar immediately started to crawl downwards and I was happy that I didn't reduce Intelligence and Perception which would have affected this stat.
I never had to wander around through the darkened avenues as the mark on the minimap led me directly to my destination. I only turned from my path once, when I noticed a rabbit under a tree.
Stealth allowed me to get right up to the creature. My sword cut through its spine and I killed the animal with my first attack.

Critical hit! Damage: 20
The Rabbit has been killed!
Experience: +5 [1658/1730]

It was a shame that it was far from every time that this worked with wolves—the predators often had a sense of smell and hearing that was too acute and they noticed me in advance.
I waited a little and then entered the shadows again and moved on straight towards the cave through the bushes that grew thick down the hillside. I carefully stepped into the empty mouth of the dungeon and set off on my search for the corpse in the faint glow of the mold that covered the walls.
It smelled... quite bad there. I could sense the smell of dead flesh and decomposition.
I felt an unpleasant feeling in my throat but I easily dealt with the nausea and continued to carefully step over the human bones that were strewn here and there. I couldn't make any noise.
The walking corpse was found in a far corner of the dungeon. Fat and swollen, it stood by a sealed chest, its dead rags unable to hide its pustule ridden skin.
A wave of the foul smell came over me again. I held my breath and circled around the back of the corpse with bared blades in both hands. The shining slime on the walls did not give enough light, but my senses were sharp enough to make out the whiteness of the bones in the darkness and avoid stepping on them.
The corpse did not notice my approach and I attacked it in the back. I slashed it with my sword and immediately followed up with my dagger.

The Walking Corpse has been killed!
The Malicious Corpse quest is complete!
Experience: +350 [2008/2070]

You have gained a level!

I decided against making up anything new and raised my Dexterity as well as improving my Stealth skill. Then I opened the wooden lid and the shadows of the dungeon suddenly laced together into steel snares.

Shadow Snares: you are paralyzed!
Damage taken: 37 [73/110]

I tried to jerk away but my body refused to obey me.
“Greetings from Kogan!” someone whispered from behind.

Damage taken: 37 [36/110]

“You should have kept your mouth shut!”

Damage taken: 37 [0/110]
You have died!

00:01:00... 00:00:59... 00:00:58..

The timer slowly counted the time until I would return to the game, but I felt completely bewildered inside, as my thoughts flew around inside my head like terrified sparrows.
“What the hell?” I shouted into the emptiness.
Did Kogan decide that he can scare me by telling someone to kill a game character in a virtual world? What was this madness?
Or was this just a warning?  A hint at what awaited in real space?
I had to call my attorney immediately!
However, I could not exit to the main menu as I was thrown into the game again.

It was dark and cramped and something was crushing my chest.
I flexed my muscles, trying to push the weight away and my hand went through the crumbling obstacle. I tried to get up and... found myself standing up from a shallow grave in that already familiar cave, bathed in the light of the slime covering the wall.
What was going on? Resurrection in the start location was only possible by the side of the Tower of Power!
Something appeared to be clenched in my hand. I took a closer look and threw away what turned out to be a human skull, skillfully carved from some sort of bright stone. After throwing away the skull, I stared at my hand with amazement and disgust. My fat and clumsy sausage fingers were covered in pustules and purplish cadaveric spots.
No! This simply could not be!
No one died inside a game!
I lowered my gaze and discovered that I had been trapped in the body of a walking corpse through some quirk of the game. I recoiled in fear, tripped over a bone under my foot and clumsily fell to the floor. What the hell?
I opened the menu, staring at the grayed-out and inactive tabs until I noticed that there was no quit button either! Was it an error? Had I been hacked? Were the game servers being restarted? I had to contact the game admins!
There was no more in-game chat or personal message service in the menu anymore.
I was overcome by a terrible panic, so I had to lock my swollen fingers together and force myself to calm down. This was nothing! It was a total non-issue! All I needed to do was ask one of the players for help and they would get in touch with the admins to resolve this situation.
I somehow got up from my hands and knees and strode off through the cave with the shambling gait of a living corpse. I was simply brilliant at finding my way in the darkness but my sight started to swim more and more from the bright light the closer I got to the exit from the dungeon.
Was it day already? Hmm... That was strange.
Shading my eyes with my hand, I stepped forth under the open sky and my skin immediately started to smoke!

Bright sunlight! Perception penalty: 75%
Damage taken: 1 [22/23]
Stamina: -3 [17/20]

An insufferable radiance cut through everything around me. I blindly took another step, hoping to hide in the shadow of the trees, but the sun struck me again immediately. Damn it! I would never reach it!
I started to panic again so I had to return to the cave. I calmed down a little once I got inside.
It would be all right! There was nothing to be afraid of. Someone would come here sooner or later. That's when we would talk.
The sunlight streaming in from outside suddenly blinked—I started to turn around and this was the only reason why the level 3 Rogue appeared to my side, rather than behind my back. A falchion darted towards me, as I protected myself from the attack with my left hand and shouted, “Stop!”
An incomprehensible growl came out of my throat instead of words and the blade slashed into my wrist a moment later, cutting my hand clean off. My arm immediately hung limp by my side.

Damage taken: 5 [16/23]
Left arm injured!

“Just wait a minute!” I howled, but it seemed like the rogue did not hear me.
He slashed at me once again. I let an attack on my chest through, swayed and swatted at him with my right hand, but I was unable to get even close to the agile rogue. In an instant, the blade flashed down and cut through my skull. The shadows of the dungeon merged into an impenetrable darkness.

You have been killed!

Darkness. Weight. The whisper of falling soil.
I got out of the grave and threw the skull that appeared in my hand away again in disgust, shouting, “You scum!”
All that came out of my mouth was a throaty growl, so I angrily punched the wall so hard with my swollen fist that the pus burst out of my boils.
What the hell? How could I have forgotten how to speak?
A horrifying realization flashed through my mind. I opened up the menu, selected the Character Attributes and went stone dead with terror as I suddenly realized that everything that happened to me was not a random error but the work of a hacker!

Walking Corpse, undead. Level 1.
Strength: 18
Dexterity: 3
Toughness: 23
Intelligence: 1
Perception: 5

Life: 23
Stamina: 20
Energy: 3
Damage: 1-4

Damn it! The hacker that sent Kogan's greetings had thrown me into the body of one of the walking dead who has an Intelligence of only one! This zombie isn't just on the dim side, he's just an animal! The developers strongly recommended to never make your Intelligence lower than five, because the character won't even be capable of understandable speech, so I wouldn't understand whoever I'm speaking to if I had one point!
Bloody hell. It wasn't enough for the hacker to just trap me inside the game, but he also made any interaction with other players impossible! How long can a body lie in a virtual reality capsule without food and water before it dies of hunger?
Two days? Three days?
A timer would have switched it off in a normal situation, but I was sure that my attacker took care of this as well.
The malfunction in the data center was no accident, was it?
Everything had been thought through in advance! They destroyed the evidence and got rid of the key witness...
I growled and shambled off towards the exit from the dungeon, stumbling and shaking. The low Dexterity was making itself known, while the rather good Strength and Toughness stats could not compensate for the terrible clumsiness of the undead.
I gathered my determination and stepped from the cave into the clearing, and the light only cut into my eyes but did not burn my pustuled skin.

Dim sunlight! Perception penalty: 50%
Stamina: -2 [18/20]

The world was becoming blurry and getting lost in the whitish haze, but I stubbornly shambled on through the clearing towards the trees. One step and then another, as the Stamina bar inexorably crept down to the left. One step, one more and yet another one... I finally found shelter in the shadow of the trees, but a new surprise awaited there. It was an unpleasant one as always.

Diffused sunlight! Perception penalty: 25%
Stamina: -1 [3/20]

My attempt to move under the broad canopy of an oak was not a success. The sun had already burned away the last of my Stamina when I got halfway there so I froze in the middle of the cluster of trees like a clockwork toy that had come unwound. My Stamina restored itself with time, but the rays of the sun brought it back down to zero before I even had the chance to take a step. Would I really have to wait for darkness to fall?
Time was passing! How long had my body already been in the capsule?
I suddenly heard a rustle—I lowered my eyes and saw a rabbit which had fearlessly come near to the immobilized undead. As soon as I got a single unit of Stamina I immediately grabbed the creature, squeezed it to my chest and twisted its neck with my clumsy but powerful fingers. Еhe rabbit started to shake and shrink before I heard the crack of bone. All that was left in my hands was a skin full of bones.

Energy: -3 [0/3]
Stamina: +3 [3/20]

The rabbit has been killed!
Experience: +5 [5/100]

Without wasting any more time, I shambled towards the oak, tripped on a root fell down and continued at a crawl, without even trying to rise to my feet. Stamina no longer burned away in the thick shadows, so I crouched under the tree, trying to make sense of what had happened.
Did I earn some experience? Was that even possible for NPCs?
The stats tab confirmed that this was possible. I just needed to earn another ninety five points of XP to reach the next level. This would be an additional point that I could add to Intelligence!
So, another nineteen rabbits? Well, at least I could do that. I had no choice anyway.
I started to rise off the ground and nearly fell back down when an arrow hammered into my shoulder.

Damage taken: 6 [17/23]

I turned to face a level 5 Ranger in a green jacket, tight leggings and a tall pair of boots, got another arrow in my chest and tried to protect myself with my arms.
“Don't shoot!”
My incomprehensible wail had no effect on the player as he drew his bow again. It was impossible to run away so I bent down low and ambled towards the shooter. I reached him, swung and tried to hit him with my empty hand, missed and raised my arm again. Another miss. The ranger put away his bow and drew his dagger, took a punch in the face and did not even notice the pathetic single point of damage I caused as he confidently drove his blade into my pus-ridden eye.

Critical hit!
You have been killed!

Darkness, the weight of loose earth and the stench of the dungeon. The skull that I was already sick of in my hand. I hurled it at the wall with all my strength and growled in disappointment and shame.
My wounded eye was still pulsating and reminding me of my recent demise, while my whole body ached as if it had been broken into pieces and clumsily reassembled.
It was very unpleasant to be dead. Even though the blades that pierced my body caused no pain, each death took away valuable time, so I had no intention of dying again. Nobody would pepper me with arrows, chop me into pieces or crush my skull with a hammer anymore.
I would hunt the players now!
I opened up the description of my undead character, but I found only one positive feature which was neutral relations with other undead and immunity to death magic, poisons, curses, bleeding and for some odd reason, spells of banishment. However, this was more than compensated by being unaffected by blessings and healing. My Deathgrip would be of no help in fighting players either as it did not cause physical damage and only drained the target of Stamina.
Weapons! I needed weapons more than life itself! Only rabbits could be fought bare handed.
With hope, I opened the lid of the chest, but all I could find inside was a handful of coppers. I searched around the cave, but there was no result again. But then, some bones crunched beneath my feet, so I picked up one of the pieces and couldn't believe my eyes.

Sharpened bone
Damage: 1-2
Additional corpse poison damage: 1 per second for 3 seconds
Durability: 2

Now this was already something. While my swollen fingers refused to hold the piece of bone tight, I still managed to arm myself in the end and I moved towards the exit, where the players would spend a while getting used to the meager light in the dungeon. I squeezed myself into a small niche and stood still, awaiting my first victim. It was unexpectedly easy to stand there unmoving, even though my emotions welled up inside me.
What was happening to my real body? How much time did I have left? Would I manage to get out of this accursed game or did the hacker completely cut off this option? And where were the other players, damn them all!
A shadow quickly appeared as if in answer to my silent curse as an incredibly tall Priest in a long sleeveless chainmail hauberk appeared, with a mace upon his belt.
Level 6! Damn it!
However, I did not retreat but stumbled out of my niche and hit him in his scrawny neck as hard as I could with my bone. It was a great hit, so good that a powerful stream of blood gushed out of the wound.

Critical hit! Damage: 32

The priest swayed, turned around and let through another attack—the bone cut into his temple, taking away another eight points of Health. It's a shame I didn't poke out his eye!
The player's figure started to be surrounded by a blinding light, but the corpse poison made itself known before the priest could cast his spell. The healing magic dissipated without trace!
I stabbed at the eye of my opponent with the bone but missed, while the astounded player tried to use priestly magic again to be met with failure for the second time. The poison interfered with concentration as well as causing damage.
The priest back-pedaled so I grabbed him with my free hand and actually hammered the bone into him, aiming just above the edge of the chainmail. I surprised myself by hitting yet again—my opponent did not have a particularly high Dodge skill. He obviously never bothered to raise his Dexterity either...
The next stab was met by the iron chainmail rings and the bone shattered, while the priest finally snapped out of his daze and swung his mace. He took away a quarter of my life with his first hit and then we traded strikes, but fists are not the best choice against a mace. My Health instantly went into the red.
Thankfully, the corpse poison continued to damage my opponent so he panicked. The priest stopped swinging at me and grabbed a flask with the elixir of life out of his bag. I caught his hand, trying to stop him from restoring his Health. After a short struggle, I managed to bite into his wrist but his leather sleeve proved too tough as my fangs simply fell out of my rotten gums.
That didn't matter. The priest was shaken by a short seizure and he fell to the ground, dead from the poison.

Player Faroukh the Bright has been killed!
Experience: +120 [125/200]
You have gained a level!

I was overcome with the sense of euphoria that I always felt when I reached another level and I hurriedly opened the character's Attributes menu. Yes! I had a free point and the menu was working!
I put my hard-earned point into Intelligence, but I did not have to modify any of my skills. Deathgrip got automatically improved. It would now suck twice as much Stamina from its victims.

Walking Corpse, undead. Level 2.
Strength: 18
Dexterity: 3
Toughness: 23
Intelligence: 2
Perception: 5

Life: 46
Stamina: 41
Energy: 7
Damage: 1-4

I was no killing machine of course, but I was no longer a punching bag. I had a rather decent amount of Health for the Playpen. I also simply wanted to get some sort of normal weapon.
However, to my great disappointment, I could only take that flask with the healing potion from the body of the player. Without much hope, I poured it into my crusty mouth but nothing happened, just as I expected.
Interesting. How do you heal the dead?
After I threw the empty flask away, I returned to the deep cave and spent a long time digging through the pile of bones, but I couldn't find a single poisoned one. I had to make do with a simple sharpened shard, but at least it caused 1-3 damage.

By the time that I got out of the dungeon, it was already getting dark in the park so I did not suffer a Perception penalty. Dark shadows coalesced between the trees as I tore through the bushes into one of the alleyways and trudged towards the gate. My revenant clumsily put one foot in front of the other as he swayed from side to side, but I soon got used to the way that the grotesque character moved and quickly reached the iron fence.
I don't know what I was expecting when I got out of the park. Did I think that I could quit the game, move into my own body, talk to someone, even an NPC if not a player?
None of this actually happened. I never even managed to come up to the gate. As soon as I approached, the magical crystals on the fence shone with bright blinding light and furiously shot out zigzagging electrical charges.
 An instant later, I was toast...

Darkness and a shallow grave, with earth carelessly thrown over it. The annoying skull was in my hand as usual.
Raging, I shambled to the exit from the cave and threw the stone skull with its bared teeth into the bushes.
I was fed up with it!
The bone that I picked up the last time turned out to still be in my inventory and I did not have to come back to the cave for a weapon, so I set off into the forest. It was completely dark by this time and the Perception bonus that the undead got at night kicked in.
I did not have to get that much experience to get to level 3, so I decided to avoid players and hunt animals instead. One of the walking dead could easily take care of a fox and should be able to bring down a wolf. I had a decent amount of Health and it was a shame that everything was spoiled by issues with accuracy.
This time, I went in the opposite direction from the park fence and soon got out onto the swampy bank of the river. A twisting path led me to a log which was laid across a stream and I recklessly tried to use it to cross to the other side. My lack of Dexterity showed itself and my second step already resulted in me falling in.
The stream turned out to be unusually deep and the surface of the water was above my head. I prepared for yet another death and suddenly realized that I did not feel any discomfort whatsoever. Ah, yes. The dead didn't have to breathe!
I had to struggle for a while to get out onto dry land, but there were no injuries or wounds in the end. I fell down, but so what, it was no matter. I just needed to keep it in mind for the future. What if I had to run away from other players? Well, if I managed to level up higher than level 10, it would be the local noobs who would be running away from me.
I just wanted to know how much time I had left before I would die in real life. How long had I already spent in the virtual reality capsule?
My mood was hopelessly ruined, even though it did not seem like it could get any worse.   Things can always get worse though...

When a hill appeared by the riverside ahead, I turned away from it, crossing a swampy meadow full of darting snakes and flowers that glimmered in the night, finding myself by a ring of stone menhirs that had been dug into the ground.
Suddenly, a bolt of lightning arced nearby and I froze in place, completely still. My feet started to slowly sink into the unsteady swampy ground, but I kept standing there and cursing my rather low Perception.
What was going on over there? Damn it, I couldn't make it out!
Another flash, then a howl and a roar!
As soon as the noise abated and the soft light of a healing spell emanated from the stone circle, I dragged my head out of the sticky mire and went around it, giving it a wide berth. The swamp was soon behind me and a fence with bent and sometimes completely torn bars appeared in front of me.
An abandoned cemetery!
The darkness of the night was split by a battle spell yet again as an armored paladin entered the gate with a shield in one hand and a longsword in the other. Level 10, I automatically noted, as the warrior kicked down one of the gravestones, turned around and ran from the cemetery. Clumps of earth exploded and flew everywhere as a ghoul that got disturbed by the noise rose up out of the grave.
The humanoid creature with its tooth filled maw and sharp claws chased after the one that had disturbed its peace, but the paladin did not keep running, he just lured the beast out of the graveyard. By the time I got near the gate, the knight was easily resisting the ghoul's attack as he defended against it with his shield, while two level 9 elven archers were turning the undead creature into a pincushion. The creature was tearing into things and jumping around, sometimes reaching the player with its clawed hands, so the healer mage in a gray cloak and pointed hat had to restore the warrior's Health.
That was a great idea, but I had an even better plan.
I climbed into the graveyard through a hole in the fence and started to shake and push over one gravestone after another. The ghouls that came out to face the light angrily snapped their terrible fangs and wandered between the graves looking for prey in confusion, while paying no attention to my walking corpse whatsoever.
Undead neutrality!
I had already managed to push over ten or eleven gravestones before the paladin returned. The player tried to run away but it was too late—the furious pack noticed the human and ran after him. I could not catch up with them so there was a real battle going on by the time I managed to shamble back to the circle of menhirs.
Without the armor, the archers were torn to pieces in an instant, while the paladin was skillfully swinging his sword and causing an amazing amount of damage for his level. The healer mage was casting one healing spell after another on his companion.
The well-coordinated pair had quite a good chance of winning the battle, but a ghoul that had broken away from the pack suddenly rushed towards the spellcaster. One strike from a clawed hand took away half of the Health of the puny mage so he immediately forgot about providing support to the paladin who was surrounded by the undead.
A ball of lightning from the healer's staff hit a ghoul, immediately frying it, while I threw myself into the attack, not wanting to miss such an opportune moment.
One step, two steps, stab!
The sharpened bone went through the spellcaster's cloak without meeting any resistance and sunk deep into human flesh. The healer turned around and tried to shout a spell, so I poked the bone into his open mouth.

Critical hit! Damage: 28
Enemy stunned!
Weapon destroyed!

The mage fell to the ground, choking on his own blood. I bent down over him meaning to finish him off, but then the paladin showed his extraordinary capabilities. He threw his shield to the side, gripped his sword with both hands, raising it over his head and a blinding bolt of lightning came down from the skies. The ghouls were thrown in every direction and I was paralyzed.

Sky Sword: defenses failed!
Stamina: 0/41

I lay curled up on the ground, unable to move my hands or feet as the paladin ignored the ghouls and headed straight towards me. The player had suffered much in his battle with the undead as his armor was dented and splattered with blood, so the paladin walked slowly and heavily. The slot in his helmet shone with a dark fire. The warrior gathered his strength for a moment, gripped the longsword with both hands again and had already started to raise it above his head when the Deathgrip ability icon appeared in front of my eyes.
The unconscious spellcaster was easy prey and it was no problem to suck the Stamina out of him. The paralysis set me free, so I got up and punched through the throat of the spellcaster with my fist.
An instant later the sword fell from up above and the long blade took off my head with a single strike. Everything spun in front of my eyes as it rolled along the ground!
The usual darkness engulfed me immediately.

Release - May 30, 2018

1 comment :

  1. This book starts off taking paths well travelled, then completely leaves your head spinning on a thrill ride. I enjoyed it very much and would recommend it.