‘The crowd is going wild, if you know what I mean!’ the commentator roars, building up the ever charging atmosphere. Whistling and shouting, screaming and cheering can be heard all around the huge arena. Tens of thousands of spectators from all around the world are there for just one thing; the World Raid 25.
‘What do you think, Howard? Who will win this jubilare 25th World Raid?,’
‘I have no idea, Mike!’ the man replies, almost howling.
I tune out of the commentators screams and cries. Their job is to get the crowd going, but they go on my nerves. Never liked them particularly. It probably has something to do with their voices which are very high pitched and irritating. What I do like, however, is winning the World Raid. Last four attempts went horribly wrong every time just when it mattered.
Lost in my thoughts I sit in my capsule, surrounded by a million of gold pieces, as I like to think. The capsules are high tech. They can sustain you for weeks at a time. Intravenous sustenance is one of the main things the capsule gives you, beside the best possible comfort for long term gaming. Muscle massages, occasional spraying with an unknown substance that keeps the skin clean, electric impulses that stimulate the body. It seems like something out of sci fi movies, but no matter how you look at it, they are real, and I own one of these. Though it is one of the more basic models, and a hand me down atop of it. A gift from my raid buddy, Gnarl, as we call him ingame. His father is a millionaire and after getting a newer model, he gifted me this thing for my twentieth birthday, wanting me to join him playing Hazard Online. A top of the line MMORPG. Three different areas combined with three different races. Humans, angels and the dead. They all vary by classes and playable characters allotted to the race. There are minor differences at the moment though. Humans have only a choice of male and female with the usual choice of how they look. The angels all look the same basically, differing only by some minor traits, like hair, colour of cape, face and armor or weapons. The dead, for them it was a bit easier. Werewolves, vampires and wights.
For me, well, I am a vampire. One of the best on the global server of Eventide. My group consists of Gnarl, our tank, Sasha and Scarlet, two wights. Sasha is Gnarl’s sister and Scarlet is her best friend. For some reason, they used their real names ingame, while Gnarl’s name is Dave. He doesn’t like it for some reason, stating how plain it is. And for me, well, my name is Aiden.
To get back to the point, the World raid is basically one big massacre. A special, huge map was made just for that purpose. Purgatory. It is a humongous area with a big castle in the middle. Humans start out in there, the Angels start out in a floating fortress and the dead rise from the underworld. It is rather, simplistic, but, no one cares anymore. The hardcore pvp-ing is all that matters. PVP is player versus player, by the way, and that is the main feature of Hazard Online. Massive raids on enemy territories, a three pronged war into the ether plane, local map occupations and so on. Every day of the week there is something interesting happening to keep everyone happy.
‘All players, please log in. The World Raid is starting in fifteen minutes,’ the voice of a young woman startles me out of my thoughts.
‘Alright everyone, time to log in,’ I say over my headset.
‘Was about time. This no talking period before WR sucks man. I know how much all of you like to listen to my voice, so I can’t help but oblige and speak,’ Gnarl responds immediately. He likes the sound of his own voice, so he talks a lot. Once you can get over it, he’s a nice guy.
‘Shut it D,’ Sasha snaps, annoyed by his banter. Scarlet chuckles in the background. I image Gnarl going red by now. God knows what hit him more, the chuckle of Scarlet or his sister calling him D instead of Gnarl.
‘Chill,’ I snap back, stopping them before they get out of hand. ‘Log in and port on me. A lot of people present already. Do NOT lag behind,’ I said with a strong voice. It is time to get serious. Afterwards, they can bicker all they want.
‘Yes sir,’ they snap back as one. I smile and shake my head.
‘Listen up while you are getting ingame. They changed some things and I will go over it quickly. I was not able to tell you beforehand or the system would have known. Now, instead of being a big free for all, it will be a three way battle. The last race standing will have a free for all. We have to make sure to be at our spot when that happens. It is important that we make a lot of kills, but not as much as to make it to the end just to die,’’ I say business like.
‘Right,’ and ‘sure,’ and ‘hell yeah,’ were the replies of my teammates. I smiled and nodded to myself, getting into the feeling. A few more minutes and the World Raid would begin. None of my teammates talked nor made any comments. They were as silent as the night. All knew just how much we trained for this day.
‘Everyone! Get your blood pumping!’ the commentator called Mike screamed out loud.
‘We are staaartiiiiiiing!’ Howard yelled out just a moment after Mike. The arena went dark and huge screens lit up all around the arena, showing the top contenders. We are on one of the screens, standing next to each other. A huge werewolf, a slightly smaller vampire and two wights. One in fact was a banshee, but that are just formalities, I thought to myself.
‘Three! Two! One! Go!’ the two yelled in unison and a loud buzzer sounded, announcing the start of the battle.
‘Take it easy, first buff up. Banshee wail, Blood boil, Immunity, Infusion, Windwalk,’ I order as I look around. A large group of dead were already climbing towards Hazard, but we would take it easy. The first clash was the worst and most chance to die during it. No way we were gonna waste our chance dying early on. Let the fodder handle the first push.
‘Gnaaaaarl!’, Dave growled in fury as he self buffed. We chuckled and started climbing the stairs. Only a minute later and we were up in Hazard, the volcanic, dead area changed for a prettier scenery. Lush fields and forests surrounded our entry point where a raging battle was being fought. A few thousand strong were going at it already as I was thinking of where to jump in first.
‘Banshee howl and start aoe-ing the masses. Gnarl, tank anything that comes close. I will get in personal and kill a few in between. Don’t let them die!’ I ordered and ran towards the massacre in progress.
‘Vampiric fury!’ I yelled out as I clashed with a wall of flesh and blood, armor and weapons and a torrent of blood bats appeared out of nowhere, hiding me in the midst whilst dealing damage against anyone close to me. It was a unique skill that was very hard to obtain and I had worked for it for the last year. Now I would see if it paid out.
‘Get that vampire! He got fury up! Debuff him!’ were only a few of the screams I heard whilst sliding through the throng of enemies, towards the priests and angels. It seems they had grouped together to take care of the stronger faction first. I grinned as I saw my health bar constantly being filled. It was scary to see though, one moment it was eighty eight percent, then thirty, then ninety, then eighteen and up and down. A lot of our own wights were casting regenerative spells on me, which was pure awesomeness. Working together with people who hate me just for the win. I laughed out loud and ran a straight line towards three priests. Two aoe’s fell just in front of me, banshee wail and fire storm. One paralysed the group while the second incinerated them for over thirty percent damage, giving a nasty burn debuff for ten seconds, draining their health constantly.
‘Blood surge!’ I said for my buff to activate. 30 percent to my speed and attack power.
‘Vampyric claw! Rend! Scourge!’ I said one after the other. Dealing massive damage while regaining health with the chain of skills, it was a boring way to play, but a sure way to play.
‘Debuff him! Remove our debuffs, now! Use potions!’ More commands came in from the enemy around me, but I was untouchable now. In this state, every fifth skill connected on me dealing minor damage, while I, for thirty seconds total, was in a super charged state. The three priests fell within a chain of skills, two more archers followed. My wights were giving me support with paralysis and fire in between, giving them something else to worry about beside me. Then, my buff rolled out after a total of eleven kills and I took eighty percent instant damage. An assassin had just scored a critical hit and drained me.
‘Gnaaarl!’ a roar sounded and the huge werewolf crashed into the wall of players going at me, debuffing them instantly with Fear and Paralysis. He grabbed me and threw me backwards a dozen meters, then started ripping at the enemy. His attack wasn’t as big as mine and his damage was lower, but he was nothing to laugh at. His daddy being super rich had bought him the best possible gear and accessories, buff scrolls and a special item. The firsts tooth. A necklace that buffed his attack power by 40 percent while in attack mode. It was one of the few legendary item drops to ever drop. Four, then nine, then twelve kills with the wight’s assistance and he leaped backwards, almost dead as well. A flaming torrent swept into the pursuers and they withdrew towards their own line. Within the few minutes since we arrived, over a hundred dead players lay around us. The dead race’s line was withdrawing towards the stairway, only about a hundred strong whilst the angel formation that had sweeped in freshly to save the remaining few dozen humans flanked us, luckily from the opposite side. I saw an opportunity and decided to take it.
‘Listen up!’ i shouted to be heard above the fighting whilst using a special item that was obtained during raids. Whatever I said appeared in front of the player, writing it down for them in case they didn’t listen or wanted to listen.
‘All of the wights, cast aoe spells into the angel flanks! Do it now!’ I roared out. Instantly two aoe’s dropped down into the back flank of the angels, then trickling one by one, more and more dropped on top of them, but it was disorganised, giving them time to heal in between, lessening the pressure on our line in between, but not gaining any ground.
‘In twelve seconds, drop every aoe on the same spot. Do it!’ I roared and counted down from twelve to five then nodded towards our wights. They would wait.
‘Three, two, one and now!’ I roared out once more and dozens of aoe’s fell on top of the enemy line, then, a second later, two more double aoe’s dropped. Super charged with, again, a raid drop from last night to be precise, the two had combined all of their aoe spells into one and cast it two times over, using up the precious potions. Each could have been sold for over a million gold each, but that didn’t matter at that moment as the whole back flank of angels dropped as one. 367 dead and a huge roar from the dead line. They swarmed the remaining few hundred angels and humans and tore into them with a lust for pain. A message popped up in front of everyone alive stating the first round was over with two sides being wiped and the tally, with our team being on top with two 517 kills. Added to it were forty percent for all of us being alive which came up to an impressive 724. We cheered and hugged, howling and roaring at no one in particular.
‘Did you see that?!’ the commentators said in unison somewhere in the distance as I was in too much of a good mood to notice anything beside us celebrating the first round.
‘They have over thirty percent of the death toll on their own hands!’ Mike roared out in pleasure.
‘The crowd is going wild! We knew their time was now! Good luck with the second round everybody! Go go go!’ Howard roared out as well.
‘Ten, nine… three, two, one and go!’ the screen counted down with a loud buzzer sound just as the first round. The first thing we noticed was a special buff. ‘First Hazard’ was its name and it gave us a whopping twenty percent to attack, fifteen to defense, twenty to health power and thirty to attack speed.
‘Oh...my...God!’ we all shouted in unison, greed screaming from within. The group of survivors that were left standing beside us were all celebrating as well. Obviously they had some type of buff as well, which was a good thing. I doubted we would have an easy second round as the first.
‘Let’s see how it plays out for now. We do not want to lose this buff under any circumstance,’ I said in team chat. The other three acknowledged and stood back. As if we knew it, the two massive groups gathered on two sides. On the right the humans were trickling in and on the far left side from us the angels. Meanwhile, the dead had poured in as well. Again, the battlefield would be around the dead spawning point. Suited us just fine as it was our home turf. Then, out of nowhere, a massive boss spawned. I immediately used a scan scroll.
‘Description: Troll king. Health power: two billion, Grade: Special raid boss,’ the message said.
I stared at it in shock and awe. A boss spawn in the middle of a world raid and a two billion one at that? No race alone would be able to kill it, though the two others might make it if they succeeded to kill us with very minor casualties. Without thinking, I ran towards the boss and stood a few meters away from it as it didn’t have an aggressive mob icon flashing next to its name. Then, i used a horn for world chat and spoke up.
‘We will not let you kill this thing alone nor will you be able to kill it alone after taking us on. We do this the right way where all three have an equal chance of getting the loot or no one gets anything,’ I spoke calmly and slowly for everything to sink in. I have no idea why I did it, but it sure seemed to do the trick. Shouts and cheers came from the Dead race as well as no movement from the other two races. Someone must have been bound to have horns as well from the other races, so why didn’t they reply already?
‘We agree,’ was just a simple reply from the angels and a ‘Sure thing, killer,’ from the humans. I chuckled inwardly and went back to my group.
‘Tanks forwards!’ I yelled out in race chat. Within a few seconds about thirty tanks stood in front of the giant green troll king. He seemed to be looking directly at me, though I knew it was impossible, still, a chill ran down my spine.
‘Gnarl, when the other race tanks get in position, start with an aggro skill,’ I ordered as the lines were formed. Three races on three sides, perfectly arrayed to take on a world boss.
‘Start!’ i screamed out in excitement as Gnarl taunted the boss who immediately obliged with a fifty percent hit to Gnarl’s massive health power pool. Over forty thousand hit points gone in an instant. Immediately Gnarl’s health bar went up to full again as wights were healing him using their own life force as a sacrifice, the only way to heal within the dead race.
The angel and human lines rushed in and swept the beast. Not even one aoe fell on top of the boss, which meant everyone was keeping their part of the deal. Single damage skills, dot skills, pure debuffs and everything we had was going into the fray. Slowly, the percentage started to drop. We were holding the aggro which meant the dead race was dealing more damage than the other two races. A good sign for us, a bad for the enemy as they might get stupid ideas like attacking us.
Steadily the health bar of the Troll King dropped, a few percent per minute. Thirty minutes in, we were still holding aggro and the boss was whittled down to thirty one percent. Then, finally, at thirty percent things started getting serious. He spawned a few dozen of smaller trolls that immediately started attacking dps and priest classes, not bothering with the tanks. Within the confusion, over thirty players got killed before we got it under control. This meant that the rest would be going slower. I frowned and my nostrils flared up.
The progress towards ten percent was long and annoying. Another thirty minutes later and the boss was at ten percent. Now, instead of spawning mobs, it aoe-ed and blast everyone backwards. By the time we could move again he was already at fourteen percent and a few tanks lower.
‘Damn it!’ i yelled out in frustration. Similar expressions stared back at me all around the dead, human and angel ranks. Then, out of nowhere, a huge damage spike hit the boss and whittled it down towards two percent. The game masters must have had enough of boss killing and wanted to get the player killing going on. I would oblige.
‘Guys, attack scrolls out and Gnarl in attack mode. Lets go at it,’ I ordered calmly. We stopped attacking for a moment and used special raid scrolls, again, courtesy of Gnarl’s dad. The damage output skyrocketed for a minute and within that minute, all hell broke loose. Just as the boss was about to die, the angels swarmed us from one side and the humans from the other.
‘Don’t let them have the boss!’ I screamed and everyone started attacking the enemy. Aoe paralysis and inferno’s were flying around together with arrows, heals and weapons hitting werewolves, vampires, claws tearing into flesh and wings.
‘Keep at it,’ Gnarl said in team chat. ‘The boss isn’t regenerating,’ he said and grinned wolfishly. We dug in more vigorously and within the next three minutes in the midst of all chaos and players killing other players, the boss tearing into Gnarl, it died. A huge explosion announced it’s death and a message in front of everyone said the following:
‘World boss Troll King has been destroyed. Vanquisher: Gnarl. Happy hunting.’
‘That’s it?’ he roared out in frustration. Another message interrupted him as it flashed again in front of us.
‘This is the final round. There will be no more respawning. Happy killing.’
‘Now. Move it!’ I yelled out as we ran sideways and cut through a weaker human party to get through. Without looking backwards, we ran towards our chosen spot. We backed up towards the bridge that was a hundred meters away and lead to a raised village. It had a small stockade all around the village and only one way in. It was a perfect place to fight. Put a tank on the bridge, a fighter behind him and wights behind them for support and damage dealing.
‘Two minutes at this pace until we get there. Gnarl, you go in first. I will wait in front of the stockade with the wights on the bridge. If something is out of place, pull back,’ I ordered. Gnarl just growled in return and ran past the bridge into the town. In shock, we saw his health bar drop down by forty percent within mere moments.
‘Banshee wail!’ I yelled and a blood chilling scream pierced the air. Gnarl’s health bar stopped going down and he appeared within moments at the gates, running towards us.
‘Two groups, eight strong. Four angel and four human. A tank, two archers and a priest. The angels were all damage dealers,’ he said before even reaching us and stopped at the bridge, turning towards the gate.
‘Stealth,’ I said calmly as I disappeared. The wights backtracked towards the other side of the bridge with Gnarl standing on the middle, defiantly. I, however, waited at the gate for them to pass me. Surely, after the paralysis effect was out, they rushed the bridge, the tank leading the charge with the four angels right behind him. The archers and the priest stood back, buffing the tank and taking shots at Gnarl.
‘Hatred,’ I yelled as another self buff hit me. My critical hit rate went up by fifty percent for twenty seconds with an addition of stun on critical hit for five seconds.
‘Vampyric claw! Rend! Scourge!’ I yelled out and with the finishing movement of scourge, a double slash and somersault kick, the three fell. Before the priest, who was the third target even fell to the ground, I ran into the angel who just turned backwards to see what the commotion was about and I rend into him with seven seconds of Hatred left. Rend had a cooldown of four seconds so it could be used quickly offering decent dps whilst comboing with other skills like vampyric claw to regain health and scourge for massive damage.
Just as the angel fell, the tank had reached gnarl who was now at eighty percent health power. Gnarl roared and a red glow appeared around him. Attack mode. The tank went down within three seconds, mauled by Gnarl and incinerated by Scarlet. Single damage skill that could bring down anyone without massive resistance to under half of their life points. She smiled and winked at the tank as he died, a hateful stare looking back at her.
Gnarl rushed into the remaining angels and ripped into their health bars, dropping them quickly together with the other three. Not even twenty seconds later, the angels were gone and the group was left with about forty percent of their own health bars intact, of which the most health was left on Scarlet as she had still hundred percent of her own. Least was on Gnarl with barely ten percent.
‘I will be going inside, cloaked, this time. No more surprises, though we should have anticipated something like this,’ I said as I cloaked up and ran into the town. A single mob stood in the middle of the town square, strangely looking.
‘I have… never seen something like this. Come up inside, hurry up,’ I say, impatiently. It looked like an ordinary mob but it had the icon of a boss monster next to its health bar.
‘What the gnarl is that,’ Sasha commented as she ran up to me. ‘It’s almost as ugly as my own brother,’ she mused, chuckling. Scarlet laughed with her, leaving Gnarl staring dumbfounded.
‘Gnarl, heal up and attack it fully buffed. I have a strange feeling about this one,’ I say, studying it. No matter how I scanned it, without or with scrolls which gave the stats of every single mob or boss within Hazard online, did the boss show us anything.
‘Maybe it’s a raid boss?’ Scarlet added, interrupting my thinking.
‘Can be. That’s why we need Gnarlman to attack. Let’s see how the damage is dealt and taken, what skills it uses. Buff us all up and back track towards the gate, extreme range. Use single dot only and keep an eye out on Gnarl’s health bar,’ I said, back tracking myself as well. Within a few seconds Gnarl was buffed up and ready to fight. He roared and ran towards the boss mob that just stood there.
Gnarl attacked it with chain after chain, whittling its health bar down to ninety percent without a single response from the boss. The wight’s barged in and added their own damage. I decided to rush in as well, self buffing fully first. Nothing happened, no matter how hard we were hitting it. Within a few minutes it was down to seventy five percent, still nothing. Then, all hell broke loose. It cast a massive debuff aoe, whittling down our health bar by 10 percent, defense by 20, attack by 30, all resistances by a 100 points and our speed by 20 percent. For a moment we all stopped, just dumbfounded by what happened. A debuff chain? Nothing beside the top few raid bosses could do that, let stand so strong a debuff. We didn’t even have the chance to defend ourselves against an attack and we were dead, lying beneath the bosses feet. He seemed out of order as he shifted about, pixelating and bending in strange angles. Another wave hit us and he disappeared. Panic struck me as the pop up for respawn wasn’t coming up. Just a negative color and our dead bodies in middle of the town square. Then, immense pain, convulsion and loss of breath hit me. In my headset I could hear the Gnarl, Sasha and Scarlet scream out in pain. The same thing was happening to them as well. Terror and pure fear washed over me. I could feel someone trying to pull the headset away from my head, but it was firm in place, no amount of pressure made it budge an inch.
‘What… is going on?’ I managed to scream. No one replied as they seemed to have already passed out. Finally, my sight blurred to the point it became darkness and I lost any sense of hearing, sight, time. I floated in the nothingness and slowly faded. How could everything go so wrong so quickly, was my last thought while alive.
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