Taereun: Battleground of the Damned was never really a game. It was a testing ground to find minds and souls for the The Nameless God to use, and for tens of thousands of players, the game became reality, when they were put in the bodies of their characters. The Nameless God told them that he would return them to their real lives, if they fought through the Labyrinth of Yggr and freed his body from beneath the city of Haven. After searching for over 11 years, they found the Gate leading to Haven.
After being murdered right before the gate to Haven was opened, Mark McGuinness wakes up in a hospital in his original body. As a child, he was in an automobile accident. A freak whose body rejects most medical treatments, he was left scarred and disfigured. Angry, bitter and disgusted with the world, he had used Taereun: Battleground of the Damned to take out his frustration and anger, so he would not lose control and hurt or kill someone in real life. The closest he had ever come to being happy was living as Talon, during the eleven year search for Haven.
Having learned about the Power called ki, Mark McGuinness discovers that his human body is capable of channeling and using it. Once again armed with Power, he finds a way to travel from Earth to Taereun. He has questions he wants answered and people he owes. Whether mortal or divine, he will let no one and nothing stand in his way.
WARNING: For Mature Audiences Only. This story contains rather graphic descriptions of violence, gore, sex and sexual violence.
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The dark side of human nature, and the backstabbing that takes place in MMOs (Massive Multi-player Online Games). The internet gives entirely too many people this sense of security and invulnerability that make them believe they can get away with anything they want. The initial idea behind Ultimatum of the Nameless God was how violent, despicable and out of control people would become, if they suddenly had power and no more laws and police to keep them down.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
A central part of this book is power, and how it is abused. I took a lot of the worst types of behavior that I have seen in MMOs and real life and built personalities around them.
For others, I am drawing on races and characters from Norse mythology, but I have put major twists on anything from there.
The main character is a bit different. His circumstances led to a view on life that most people would consider twisted or insane. He is what happens when you bully someone who doesn’t back down. Bullies like to target people who are different, and in his society he is not the norm. Except when he is targeted, he learns to fight and keeps fighting. He never gives up and has no qualms about fighting dirty.
The Last Battle
*** The Battleground of the Damned ***
The Great Fuck Over Day 4,078
After eleven and a half years of searching, the Damned, as the former players of Taereun: Battleground of the Damned now called themselves, had found what was supposed to be the entry to the zone where Haven existed. Tens of thousands of the Damned, along with several times their number of native mercenaries, were mixed in a swirling melee battle with hundreds of thousands of humanoids and monsters. The battle was taking place in a massive cavern, so large that even with the pervasive but diffuse lighting the walls could not be clearly seen from the center. The objective of the players was a massive, silver-grey double-valved gate in one wall. After nearly a week of continuous battle, with guilds and mercenary companies rotating in and out of the battle, the gate was finally in sight.
Once the gates were open, the zone containing the city of Haven would be accessible. The Damned would only have to subjugate the city’s forces and take control of its underground labyrinth, where they would find the Nameless’ body. This was the beginning of the final campaign that would lead to their freedom.
* * * * *
Virtual reality hardware and games had become common in the decade preceding the release of Taereun: Battleground of the Damned but The Nameless Entertainment, Inc., the company that built and ran the game had revolutionized the virtual reality game industry. After 3 years or media hype and an extended closed beta test, the company had released both the game and new VR hardware to run it on. As a result, Taereun: Battleground of the Damned had a level of realism to it that exceeded all other VR games.
In the years that followed, much of The Nameless Entertainment, Inc.’s technology was incorporated into most mainstream VR hardware, but no other game ever achieved the level of realism that existed in Taereun: Battleground of the Damned. Other game companies blamed it on black box components that were only available in The Nameless Entertainment’s custom VR rigs.
Taereun: Battleground of the Damned had been released as niche game that targeted the most hardcore of the role-playing and PvP audiences. Even though the two audiences were almost diametrically opposed in what they wanted from a game, Taereun: Battleground of the Damned had acquired a following of rabidly fanatical players. While it never became a mainstream success, it had a continually growing player base. Its player base was loyal nearly to the point of rabid fanaticism, and the game manufacturer had posted average quarterly player numbers that were constantly growing.
The Battleground of the Damned was a series of pocket dimensions, and the players were searching for the Departure Gate, which would open the way to Taereun proper. The Nameless Entertainment billed the current game as the prelude to what would become the real game, but almost no one took them seriously. The Battleground of the Damned had hundreds of millions of square miles of real estate. Most of the players accepted the fact that the current game had never been fully explored. How much content could The Nameless Entertainment reasonably be expected to develop?
Its selling point had always been total immersion role-playing in a dynamically changing world, and the designers had never strayed from that stance. After nearly thirteen years, no was certain how big the Battleground of the Damned really was, or even what it really was. Some of the zones seemed to be entire worlds, even though no one ever explored them in their entirety, and others seemed to be only a few miles in diameter.
Taereun: Battleground of the Damned ran for 12 years and 364 days prior to the event called the Great Fuck Over by its victims. Over seventy thousand players, the players never performed an accurate headcount and were only estimating their total numbers, were trapped within the bodies of their characters, by a being that called itself The Nameless God. The Nameless God claimed that the game was never really a game; their characters were real people; they really were in the bodies of their characters.
Most of the players were not sure whether or not to believe The Nameless. The minimal user interface from Taereun: Battleground of the Damned was inaccessible, but that did not mean that they were necessarily in another world. Nor, did it mean that their characters were real people. There had been dozens if not hundreds of novels about people being trapped inside of life or death computer games written in the past century.
When players were playing the game, the NPCs had always called the players the Possessed, but the players had discounted that as just part of the programming. Strangely, in some places, they were driven out or executed, when discovered to be players. Thy players had never quite understood why the game was programmed that way, but after The Nameless God’s announcement, some players began to wonder about what Taereun: Battleground of the Damned really was.
The Nameless also told them that if they died in these bodies, their real bodies would die. A death for them here would be a true and irrevocable death, game over and life over. When Taereun: Battleground of the Damned had been a game, the players would have to fight their way out of the Land of the Dead to return to their bodies, but no one who had died after the Great Fuck Over was ever seen alive again.
The Nameless’ demands were simple: his body was trapped somewhere beneath a city called Haven, and he would release them once they broke into the city and freed his body.
* * * * *
Even though the end of their ordeal was in sight, the Damned were not a single cohesive force, and it was hindering them. Their combat units were of irregular sizes and makeups based on parties, guilds, and alliances. With the mercenary units added into the mix, their force structure was near chaos. Due to their lack of a true command structure and overall coordination, the center and left wing of their assault had become bogged down. They were unable to force their way through the packed ranks of orcs and goblins driven on by the DokkAlfar Whip-Masters, with their constructs and elementals. Thug Horde, the self-proclaimed Lords of Taereun, with over ten thousand of their members in the raid force, was stonewalled by the fierce resistance.
The only progress in the battle was being made on the far edge of the right wing. A small guild called the Bohemian Cats was made of a group of real-life friends and family members that had been playing together for as much as six years before the Great Fuck Over. The core of the guild was together from the time they were sophomores in high school, fifteen years old was the youngest age that The Nameless Entertainment would accept a parental consent form and allow a minor access to Taereun: Battleground of the Damned. Then, a few of their younger sibling had joined, once they reached the minimum age for game access. Of their twenty three members, only fifteen had been caught by the Great Fuck Over. They were not a raiding guild, let alone a top tier guild, but they were pushing relentlessly forward. Backing up the one person who was not a member of their guild, their tight wedge was engaging and destroying unit after unit of the DokkAlfar’s slave army.
*This guy is unbelievable.* The Lady of Gold was using her guild bracelet to “talk” in the guild’s chat channel. She was one of the two leaders of the Bohemian Cats, the other being the Lord of Jet. Dressed in gold washed chainmail, she was wielding a pair of rapier-like swords. Her near six-foot height; inhumanly beautiful, pale features; and waist length golden hair made her stand out, even among the plethora of more than naturally attractive members among the Damned.
Guild bracelets, which gave the wearers access to an almost telepathy like chat room, were a player invention in the early days of Taereun: Battleground of the Damned. The game had been unlike any other game before it and did not have the basic social features that players expected. To compensate for the lacking features, the players had developed the guild bracelets and spells that provided much of the basic chat and party functionality of other games. The fact that their character’s bodies had been in possession of the guild bracelets was one of the things that made the players question the reality of their situation. If they had made the bracelets in the game, why did the real bodies of their characters have them?
*He’s not all that great. We would have done even better, if you all didn’t get so fixated on partying with a so-called legend.* The Lord of Jet could not keep the petulant sounding tone out of his voice. He was angry about the way he sounded, but he knew that he was not wrong. In his eyes, Talon was nothing special, just another loser solo player, who could not tow the line and stay in a guild. At 6’4” tall, he was the tallest member of the party, and his jet black plate armor made him appear much more heavily built than he really was.
*Jet, let it go already man. You’re better than this. He’s really like nothing we’ve ever run with before. I’m not even using healing magic on him, just damage wards.* Yoh called himself a shaman.
Even though Taereun: Battleground of the Damned had not been a traditional game that followed normal game design theories, the players still brought the concept of the “holy trinity” of MMOs with them, the combination of tank, healer, and dps. As with the games of the past, most players built their parties around the trinity. They shoehorned and pigeonholed the almost limitless options into their preconceptions of how classes should be designed and played. Yoh used magic that resembled the shaman class in traditional MMORPGs, hence he was called and called himself a shaman, and acted as the guilds main healer. A human, he was an inch or so under six feet, and more heavily built than the Alfar.
*Really, Sel, this guy is even more of a legend for being a murderous loner, than he is for his skills, as incredible as they may be. How did you ever get him to agree to party with us?* There was an odd note in the Lady of Gold’s voice.
*I’m sorry, Goldie. Its a secret. I promised Talon I wouldn’t talk about him, and no matter how much I hate it, I owe him.* Selestra was the half-breed child of a SvartAlfar mother and LjosAlfar Father. In the real world, she had been friends with the Lady of Gold and the Lord of Jet for much longer than they had been playing the game.
*Oooohhhh, sounds interesting. Did you know him in real life? Have you got the hots for him?* “Voices” in the bracelet chat rooms sounded just like they did when heard normally. That included pitch and inflection, making it very easy for a person to hear when they were being teased.
*Of course not! He’s even uglier in real life! I only like handsome guys!*
Selestra glanced to her left at the Lord of Jet, and nearly had a crude sword embedded in her skull. The kick that flashed past her head shattered the sword’s blade. The following kick fractured the iron plates on the orc’s gauntlet and shattered the hand inside. As the orc bellowed in pain, Selestra ducked and lunged, driving both her short swords into the gap between its helm and breastplate. Her heart hammered in her chest, as she realized that she had almost died. She was not sure if this was a game or reality anymore, and the idea of dying for real terrified her.
“Get your head out of your ass! Keep sneaking peaks at your boyfriend and you’ll get dead!” The angry growl was too deeply pitched to have come from human throat. Talon, the one person not part of the guild, was not human, or at least not entirely human. He had been a legend in Taereun: Battleground of the Damned for many reasons, among them he was a Half-Dvergar, the only player ever to be one, and one of only three ever seen in the game. Almost six feet tall, he was nearly as broad as a Dvergar, and far stronger than any human.
“He’s not my boyfriend, you idiot! He’s Goldie’s . . .” Selestra’s words trailed off, as she realized what she was shouting. She was so lucky that her dusky grey skin did not blush, it would just make her even more embarrassed. Talon always brought out the worst in her, for as long as she had known him. The others did not know how she knew Talon in real life, well she really could not call it knowing him. He was just as much of an antisocial asshole in real life as he was in the game, maybe even worse than in the game.
Talon’s kick sent a bull orc flying, with almost every bone in its torso shattered. The force behind his attacks was far beyond what even his massive musculature should have been capable of. When he stopped and looked around, Selestra realized that there were no more orcs in front of them. Earlier in the day the right wing’s reserves had been moved to reinforce the center, where Thug Horde’s banners were. The DokkAlfar commanding the orcs must have thought that Thug Horde was the greatest danger on the battlefield. Whatever the reason, the Damned’s right wing was given the opportunity to break through the orc lines.
“A lot of people died this time.” Selestra’s voice was barely more than a whisper.
“What the fuck did you expect? Since getting trapped here, this is one the nastiest battles we’ve seen.”
The parties to the Bohemian Cats’ immediate left had not broken through yet, but it would not take long now. They were all breathing heavily and took the chance to relax.
Selestra watched Talon out of the corner of her eye. He was the only one not breathing hard, and he had been fighting harder than anyone else. Whether in real life of in the game, there was something about him that unnerved her. Her father said that he a natural affinity for fighting that was almost inhuman. Since the Great Fuck Over, he had become a killing machine on a level that no one else even came close to.
In their real life, Talon had been training at Selestra’s father’s dojo since he was little. They were about five or six the first time they met. Selestra could not remember exactly how old, but it could not have been any older. No matter how hard Talon worked out, he was always overweight and ugly, even before the accident. She had never really liked him. If she had to choose between like and hate, she would chose hate without a second’s thought. In high school, he saved her from probably getting raped. Since the Great Fuck Over, Talon had saved Selestra a half-dozen times. She could not stand owing him, and it just made her hate him more.
Selestra’s face twisted into frown. Heroes are good looking and charming, not fat, ugly curmudgeons. So, why did it have to be him saving me, instead of a charming, good looking guy, someone who could make me forget Jet? I never would have asked him to join our party, if this raid was something normal. I do not want Jet to be hurt or killed. I do not know if this a game or real, anymore. Even if this is just a game, I would not want to see the person I love with suffer or die, but Talon getting hurt or killed does not matter. He is so ridiculously strong, I am not even sure that the monsters here can hurt him.
A flight of thirty obsidian steps, angled like three sides of a trapezoid led up to terrace fronting the gate. The terrace was filled obelisks and other oddly shaped objects made of unidentifiable metals and stones. Each valve of the gate was nearly forty feet wide, and the platform was more than a hundred yards wide where it met the wall of the cavern.
Nearly a hundred DokkAlfar were formed up in ranks near the front of the platform. In the center, a small group of the DokkAlfar were dressed in robes instead of armor. Towards the back of the platform, three obsidian golems stood still as statues: one to either side of the door and one around fifty feet in front of it.
The leaders of the three parties to the left of the Bohemian Cats, all small guilds like the Cats, walked over to confer with the Lord of Jet and the Lady of Gold. Talon had moved seventy or eighty yards out in front of the rest of the Damned. One of the guild leaders, Deathmeister, stared at Talon, but the other two only glanced at him momentarily.
Deathmeister’s guild was Roving Massacre, a small but elitist raiding guild, when Taereun: Battleground of the Damned was just a game. Even after the game became a reality, they spent most of their time in the hinterlands of the Lands of Despair, instead of searching for the path to Haven. They had a reputation for hunting down rare demons and other powerful monsters. Even though there had never been a way to open stat windows, when it was still a game, the players had found or invented spells that would determine the general properties and strengths of gear. Roving Massacre was reputed to have some of the strongest gear of anyone.
“Jet, how the hell did you ever get a freak like that Talon to join your guild for this raid? Fuck, why did you even do it?” Deathmeister’s voice sounded somewhere between amazed and incredulous, with a solid dose of hate.
The Lord of Jet took off his helm, revealing a face so handsome that it could be called beautiful. His features were a slightly more masculine version of the Lady of Gold’s. The two LjosAlfar had been twin brother and sister, before the Great Fuck Over left them host to the minds and of souls of two of the Damned. Now, it was rumored that the two Damned were continuing their sexual relationship from outside the game in the bodies of the twins. Selestra knew the truth of it, that the rumors were completely accurate.
“Come on, Death. You should know that my guild gets around. Even if we aren’t a raiding guild, we still know more people and guilds than any three raiding guilds combined.” The Lord of Jet sounded boastful.
“Everybody wants to get to know the beautiful people, just like in the real world.” Thorrin was a Dvergar, an incredibly skilled Smith as well as powerful warrior adept. Dvergar are not attractive by human standards, but he was not as ugly as Talon.
“That guy doesn’t give a damn about looks, power, prestige, or anything else. He’s been an absolute psychotic monster, since I first saw him.” Deathmeister’s eyes were still fixed on Talon’s brooding back.
“What’s so special about him? I mean, yeah, he’s a big-ass Dvergar, but what’s the big deal?” Kamehameaha had been fairly new to the game at the time of the Great Fuck Over, like all of his guild, the Dragonball Warriors. The other people present thought he was probably a kid, just barely old enough to get a subscription when he started. Even after spending nearly twelve years trapped in the game, he still acted like a punk teenager with an attitude and a mountain on shoulder.
“Kid, that’s Talon. He’s probably the best tank there is, and he’s definitely the most dangerous person you’ve ever seen, no matter what anyone else might claim.” Thorrin’s voice was filled with something close to respect, and odd thing to hear from the taciturn Dvergar.
“Don’t call me kid. Frigging dwarf.”
“Better watch your mouth, kid. Thorrin’s sent more retards for an economy tour of the Land of the Dead than you could count without running out of fingers and toes. Since you can’t count any higher without them, well . . . ” Deathmeister’s smile was mocking, but his eyes promised violence. He was known for losing control in battle and going on bloody rampages.
“Looks like the Thugtards won’t be joining the party. The assholes can’t get their shit together and make a real push.”
The guttural bass voice startled the guild leaders. For all his massive size, Talon’s movements were so silent that none of them had noticed his approach. Only Selestra, standing off to the side of the conference, had been paying attention to him. The corners of her lips turned down in a bitter frown, when the Lord of Jet jumped slightly.
“Damn, you’re still too quiet. You’re more like a damned ghost than a mountain of muscle.” Deathmeister’s smile was a hostile challenge. There was neither friendship nor respect lost between the two of them.
“You can go back to licking Menton’s ass-crack again. Maybe that will get them in gear.” Talon’s flat tone of voice sounded more bored than anything.
Selestra moved back rapidly. She knew Talon well enough to know that he was nowhere near as calm as he sounded. The bored expression, with his eyes half-lidded, was a sure danger sign that he would attack any second. When the Lady of Gold looked in her direction, she motioned for the other girl to move away.
*Get out of there! Talon’s ready to take him apart!*
The Lady of Gold smiled and approached Deathmeister. Leaning her body against his, she wrapped her arms around his neck. A charm hanging from a chain around her neck glowed faintly, and she stepped back. It was another invention of the players, using the same base magic as the guild bracelets. The whisper charm allowed one player to speak with any other player, whose identity had been added to the charm.
The Lady of Gold’s “whispered” words caused a flash of anger to cross Deathmeister’s face, before he nodded. After stepping backwards without letting Talon out of his line of sight, Deathmeister moved off to the side with her.
Talon stared at them with narrowed eyes, while Thorrin watched Talon from the corner of his eye. No one said anything for a few minutes, while a brittle tension filled the air. Talon’s reputation was as bad as Thug Horde’s, everyone was afraid of what he might do. When Deathmeister and The Lady of Gold both smiled, Talon’s face turned into a blank mask.
Deathmeister and The Lady of Gold returned to the group side by side, with Deathmeister grinning like a Cheshire Cat. “The Lady is right. This isn’t the time to be fighting with other Damned, even you. We have to hurry or we won’t finish this battle.”
Deathmeister turned back toward Talon with the grin on his face and extended his hand. “Let’s work together. We can settle our differences another time.”
Talon did not take the offered hand. “You were scum when you were in Thug Horde, and your scum now. Let’s get this over with before the stench makes me puke.”
Deathmeister’s face turned purple, with the veins popping out at his temples. “You bastard!”
Talon’s smile was mocking, as he silently stared at the enraged guild leader.
“Are we just going to stand here, until the DokkAlfar realize we’ve broken through the orcs?” Selestra’s tremulous voice was barely audible over the sounds of battle.
“What’s the plan? How do we deal with all those DokkAlfar and the guardians?” Thorrin’s gruff voiced statement refocused everyone’s attention on something other than Talon and Deathmeister’s mutual dislike.
Talon snorted and turned so that Deathmeister was not in his direct line of vision. His deep voice was as flat as his expression. “Draw the DokkAlfar’s attention, and a small group can kill them and the obsidian golems. Thee golems are probably the real guardians. If we don’t do this soon, we’ll probably be pushed back out of this cavern again. There are still more orcs pushing in from that tunnel where the left wing is being tied down.”
This isn’t good. He’s still ready to explode. Selestra looked around nervously. In the real world, Talon was tough, and in the game he had been a monster. She did not know what he was now, and she could not help but be scared with Talon as irritated as he was.
“By a small group, you mean you with some of us supporting you?” Deathmeister’s anger was easy to hear in his voice.
“Can you handle the DokkAlfar and the three golems at once?”
“Our main tank is better geared than you are! He has the best defensive gear we’ve found. You’re only wearing rags, and ratty hides!” Deathmeister’s anger was turning back into fury.
“Take them if you want them that bad. I don’t care if you die. It’ll be good for a few laughs, if nothing else.” There was no anger or any other emotion in Talon’s voice. The lack of emotion was more threatening than a burning rage.
Caught between rage, hate and fear, Deathmeister stared at Talon. The two Damned had a long unpleasant history, with Deathmeister always coming out the loser in the end. If they fought now, Deathmeister would probably die for real, but this time he was intending to win. He forced himself to calm down. He had already made the deal with the Lady of Gold. Talon would die fighting the golems.
“Fine. You and the Bohemian Cats take the DokkAlfar and the golems. We’ll roll up the orc flank, with the rest of the guilds.”
Talon turned to the Lady of Gold. “Have your casters conceal your guild with magic. We’ll move along the back wall and wait at the base of the stairs for the DokkAlfar in the gate area to be engaged.”
The Bohemian Cats waited with Talon in the shadows at the base of the back wall of the cavern, while the other guilds began a distraction. Plowing into the exposed flank of the orc lines, the right wing began rolling up the orc’s left flank. Freed from the pressure of the orc warriors, more Damned began to circle around and assault the orc’s rear.
It was less than ten minutes, before the DokkAlfar leader noticed that the orcs and monsters on his left flank were collapsing. After the leader gave orders to his subordinates, over eighty of the DokkAlfar engaged in battle with the Damned.
Talon waited another five minutes, to make sure that DokkAlfar would not be able to easily break away, before moving in the direction of the gate.
*Hey there are still ten DokkAlfar up there. You don’t intend to attack the golems and the DokkAlfar at once, do you?* The Lady of Gold’s nervous question was made in the chat room created by their party spell.
*We’re not going to get a better opportunity. We’re still outnumbered almost 10 to 1. The DokkAlfar can still stop the flank from collapsing. We attack the DokkAlfar first, and if the golems join in, I’ll keep them busy while your guild finishes the DokkAlfar. I will murder the DokkAlfar leader. The confusion will allow the rest of you to approach and engage them.* There was no more emotion in Talon’s voice, than if he was talking about the weather.
None of the DokkAlfar on the terrace noticed the approaching Bohemian Cats. Once the guild was hiding behind the strange objects on the terrace, Talon disappeared into a shadow.
*He’s gone!? How did he do that?* The Lord of Jet used the guild bracelet, so that Talon would not hear him. *Okay everyone, once the golems are ready to go down, stop helping Talon. We have a deal with Deathmeister. We’re going to let him die.*
*Huh? Let him die?*
*What do you mean Jet?*
*Why are we letting him die?*
*QUIET!* The startled queries came from the guild members, so rapidly that they were little more than white noise. The Lord of Jet had to scream to be heard over the ruckus.
He waited for them to settle down, before continuing. *We have a deal with Deathmeister. We’re going to get some high quality gear, and we’re going to form a joint raiding force with them in the new zone. Who knows how much longer we’ll be trapped here, it could still be years. This is our chance to break into the big leagues. We’re not that much smaller than Roving Massacre. So, there’s no reason we can’t be a top tier guild, just like they are. We’ll have a better chance of surviving and recruiting new members, who we can use to take the brunt of the damage.*
*Yeah, that’s not a bad idea. I guess.*
*Talon’s not one of us.*
*Listening to those old geezers that played those old timer games like Ultima and Eve, people have always been fucking each other in MMOs. Well, I guess this isn’t an MMO, and we can really die here.*
*Yeah. Even if he’s good, he’s a real asshole too!*
The general consensus was that it would be okay, since Talon was not one of them. Selestra was one of only two who did not voice their approval. She was afraid of what could happen, if Talon realized he was being betrayed before he died. He was angry and bitter in the real world. She had overheard some of his conversations with her father, and knew that Talon had used to the game to work off his anger. She did not think he would hesitate for a second before killing them all. Maybe not her, Talon felt he had a large debt to her father.
She moved over to the Lady of Gold, and used a whisper charm so she could talk without the rest of the guild overhearing. She used the Lady of Gold’s real name, so that the guild leader would understand how serious she was. *Jenny, this isn’t a good idea. All of the bad stories about Talon and his persecution of players and guilds are kind of true. He’s mean and nasty and went out of his way to hurt people in the game. He probably did it so he doesn’t blow up and hurt someone in real life, but there is nothing to hold him back in this situation.*
The Lady of Gold frowned. *Who is he, Mei? Why are you so afraid of him?*
Selestra looked down, fidgeting. *I’m sorry. I can’t tell you. You know what my father is like, right?*
*He reminds of one of those samurai lords in an old Kurosawa film. I don’t think he’s ever approved of anything American as long as I’ve known him.* The Lady of Gold smiled.
*Dad has known Talon, as long as I have. He respects Talon’s fighting ability in the real world. I think he even respects Talon.* Selestra sounded sullen and peevish.
The Lady of Gold’s eyes opened wide. Selestra’s father was a Japanese executive in charge of a company with very large secretive contracts with multiple national governments. He ran a martial arts school on the side, a school that was basically illegal because of the nature of the martial arts taught. The Lady of Gold did not really know or care about crude things like martial arts, but she did know that the only reason his school was allowed to continue was because of his ties with the Japanese and American governments.
*You don’t like him, though. Right? This will be your chance to get back at him for whatever he did to you.*
*I don’t know.*
*Don’t worry. Everything will be fine. We just…* A scream of pain from the terrace interrupted their conversation.
A head and robed body flew into the air in separate directions. The Bohemian Cats stared at the head that rolled across the terrace in front of them. The physical strength to tear the head off a body so easily was enough to send chills down their spines.
There were a dozen seconds of silence from the terrace, before a pandemonium of screams and spells broke loose. The Bohemian Cats, startled from their fixation on the torn off head, looked across the terrace.
“Cats, charge! Let’s get those DokkAlfar bastards!” The Lord of Jet’s shout was not particularly impressive, but still audible over the background noise.
Galvanized by their guild leaders shout, the Bohemian Cats charged from behind the metal and stone objects. They saw three corpses lying on ground, and the broad figure of Talon seeming to flicker in and out of sight as he moved among the remaining DokkAlfar. Launching a volley of spells, arrows and thrown weapons at the backs of the DokkAlfar, the Bohemian Cats moved to engage them.
The fight lasted barely over a minute, before all the DokkAlfar were dead. The Bohemian Cats looked around, with slightly befuddled expressions on their faces.
“Why didn’t the golems attack?” Yoh was staring at the obsidian golems near the gate.
“Don’t you idiots get it?” Talon’s tone voice was filled with pure scorn. “The DokkAlfar don’t control this place. The world zones and the gates don’t belong to them. It’s something that they use, but they sure as hell don’t own it.”
Talon walked towards the obsidian golems at a relaxed pace, staring at the golem to the left of the gate. The Bohemian Cats watched in stunned silence, as he approached the fifteen foot tall constructs. The brutal fight with the DokkAlfar, as short as it was, had left Talon with a few minor injuries. It seemed like his wounds just made him hungrier for battle.
The golems changed from statues to charging juggernauts, when Talon was twenty feet from the center one. He suddenly disappeared and reappeared in the shadow of the golem on the left side of the gate. His fists were covered in swirling mix of light and darkness, and every blow to the golem sent shards of obsidian flying. He kept circling the wildly spinning golem, to stay at its back. The other two golems turned around and started lumbering toward the Half-Dvergar.
The Bohemian Cats watched the battle, not sure what to make of Talon’s actions. When Taereun: Battleground of the Damned had been just a game, because of the difficulty of fighting out of the Land of the Dead and the expense of using resurrection magic, most players went out of their way to maintain at least somewhat of a safety buffer. Now with death being real, almost everyone still alive was cautious to the point of borderline cowardice, but Talon was fighting a battle with everything on the line. One mistake, and the golems would turn him into paste. Even with the danger, maybe because of it, a maniacal grin was plastered on his lips.
*When he was talking with my father one time, that guy said the he kept the game’s pain dampers at zero. He said that the pain made him more focused, because when he was injured, it felt more real, but he’ll die for real, if those golems hit him. There’s something wrong with his head.*
*Hey, guys. You know he can’t keep this up forever. One hit and he’s dead. I don’t want to sound like a wimp, but there’s no way we can beat those things without him.* Yoh’s voice was soft, almost like he was talking to himself.
“Cat’s it’s our turn to be the heroes! Let’s get those things!” The Lord of Jet’s shout was not very forceful, but it was still loud enough to be heard by the Bohemian Cats.
“BOOYAH!” One of them shouted and charged into the battle with the golems.
The brutal fight was worse than anything the Bohemian Cats had ever faced, since the Great Fuck Over started, and it was certainly worse than anything in the game. Even with Yoh’s wards, one hit from a golem was enough to leave them too badly injured to continue fighting. Three of the Bohemian Cats were hit, and Yoh’s healing magic was barely enough to keep them alive. There was no way to heal the massive damage and get them back into the fight.
As the last golem crumbled into a pile of rubble, they looked at each other, having a hard time accepting that it was really over. Talon was critically injured, but he had survived, despite not receiving any wards or heals towards the end. His left arm hung limply at his side, the shoulder shattered. He had to be in agony, but no sign of it showed on his face.
The Lord of Jet and the Lady of Gold were on opposite sides of Talon. The Lady of Gold approached him, with her hand held out. “Thank you for helping us during this battle, Talon. I doubt we could have done this with without you.”
Talon looked at Selestra. “Thank her father, if you ever see him again. If her father was not who he is, I wouldn’t piss on any of you if you were on fire.”
All of the Bohemian Cats looked hostile and angry at Talon’s words, but he just stared at them, without any emotion showing in his face.
Talon’s legs collapsed nervelessly under him, and he looked down at the Lord of Jet’s swords protruding from each side of his chest. One of them had severed his spine.
“You really do earn you reputation as an asshole! Just think of this as karma for not respecting your betters.” The Lady of Gold’s smirk was cut short, Talon grabbed her arm shattering the bones, with his grip. She screamed and her face twisted in agony.
Blood erupted from Talon’s mouth, when the Lord of Jet’s swords were violently ripped out of his back. “Shit-eating, little, cock-suckers. Urehara-sensei would be proud of you, Mei.”
Talon’s heart, which had been pierced the Lord of Jet’s sword, stopped beating.
Nervously, The Lady of Gold looked around. *Quickly bring one of the DokkAlfar bodies over here, one with a sword, and it cannot be one Talon killed.*
A big man in plate armor easily picked up on of the DokkAlfar corpses and walked over with it.
*Put it on the ground behind Talon’s corpse, Michael.*
The Lady of Gold drew the DokkAlfar’s sword from its sheathe and stuck it in one of the wounds in Talon’s back.
*Thorrin can NEVER know what we did here. That disgusting Dvergar actually likes Talon. Does everyone understand?*
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