After deciding on today‘s character and appearing at my previous logout point, my own in-game house – one of the few good ideas of the natural disasters was the housing system of Mirage of Eternity -, I instantly joined the guild chat of “Emissaries of the Abyss”.
I greeted my spying victims, also known as my guild companions, as usual, and asked if there were any news or guild events. Sadly, today I wasn’t lucky. There was neither information, a part which I actually liked, nor were there any guild related events since too few of my fellow guildies were online. However, this also meant that I actually had time to explore the ever-expanding world of Mirage of Eternity as a regular player today!
Happy about this, I contacted one of my in-game friends, an Astral Knight named Sion who is one of the celestial Sylph race, via a private voice chat and asked him if he had some free time to hang out and do some exploring…
Thanks to the fact that this world was constantly growing and changing, combined with many hidden quests and newly added content, even we, the GMs, don’t know everything and always discover new content which the development department comes up with when they aren’t occupied by our superiors’ crazy requests.
Even with my character I couldn’t explore more than 10% – and that was achievable only because of my job as a GM – of the whole map since the start of the game three months ago and this percentage was in constant threat of decreasing further with each passing day.
Mirage of Eternity surely lives up to the “eternity” part in its name. Players constantly discover new dungeons and maps where no other player have ever stepped. Finding new areas and quests rewards with additional EXP¹ and fame². There’s no level limit to one‘s character, thanks to our superiors’ decision. Theoretically player can hit level 1500 and even higher provided you invest enough time into it. However, after three months, the highest player’s level still was only as high as 80. My own character is just a mere level 75 character, but thanks to the additional stat bonuses and skills I can pass for a level 78 and at night, I could even pass as a level 80 player thanks to my alignment with the darkness.
Needless to say… even we GMs can only speculate about the natural disasters’ levels.
After waiting for a few seconds I could already hear Sion’s calm voice that said “You want to explore something as usual right? Then meet me at Ruak Village which we discovered yesterday.”
With that said the chat was disconnected instantly and I already knew what was going on. That bastard dared to challenge some monsters outside Ruak Village while I was offline, and now I have to find a transfer portal to reach him – under normal circumstances – as fast as possible! He always tends to run straight ahead without waiting for his own teammates to discover areas. But not with me, I make sure to catch up with him to not miss out any EXP or even monsters I haven’t seen yet, with unknown item drops.
Thus I… sneakily abused my GM benefits and used the teleport skill that we GMs possess to be able to reach any already discovered places in an instant without having to run around to find the transfer portals. I know this is cheating in a way… but who told that idiot to run ahead again?!
My body disappeared in a bright light and for a second my surroundings turned black before I reappeared near the transfer portal of Ruak Village.
Ruak is a small village run by gnome NPCs that was created out of tiny run-down wooden houses with no special appeal. It’s one of the regular tiny villages you can encounter in rural areas far away from the main cities.
I was never fond of gnome NPCs; they tend to hate the Demon race because hundreds of years ago they were enslaved by the demons, and thus it made them act very scornfully and rudely towards my character. In return, I tend to ignore the small pains in the ass, acting as if they don’t even exist, behaving like a proper member of my race would behave.
After all, there was nothing for me to gain from earning intimacy with these small, brown-greyish creatures. If only I could just send my teammate Sion to the front line to accept any possible quests instead and let him share these with me. Sylphs, as one of the Celestial races, have less hostile relationships with other races than many other main category ones because of their friendly racial nature, which sadly doesn’t always stay true for the players who choose them, like my runaway friend.
He normally is a nice guy, but he can sometimes be very insensitive if it’s about exploring new areas.
While ignoring some nasty comments and insults by the gnomes, I began to look for Sion and with the voice command “Show Map” I ordered a holographic map to appear in front of me. The next moment I could see a green dot, belonging to my impatient buddy Sion, hastily moving around. I promptly renamed him on the map as “Runaway Knight“. Afterwards I used my stealth skill to hide my presence from monsters and players, and set off to meet him.
Now only my teammates are able to see me in a lightly transparent shape. I started to head in Sion’s direction. After a five minute walk past some level 80 Cyclops and cursing my inability to waste any time in killing them to collect some of the good leather they tend to drop, which could be sold for a good price, I finally caught up to that runaway Sylph.
As expected he was already busy dodging the incoming attacks of the monsters. In this case there were three level 83 ogres who swung their huge maces with powerful but slow attacks. He is an Astral Knight, one of the special classes, the kind which belong to the ones with hard to accomplish quests and thus are part of the rarer special classes players are able to choose. After all there are enough of other special classes with similar stat bonuses or other great skills with easier quests and requirements, but Sion is one of those hard working guys who dedicate themselves after setting a certain goal, making him never give up until he finally managed to change to this astral energy using class. Only two classes use astral energy. It is a spiritual kind of life energy which flows in all creatures of this world, but no one except for a few monsters and the astral energy wielding classes actually can see and use this kind of energy.
In general this astral energy and their classes are still a mystery for most players and even GMs. Both special classes, the Astral Priest and Astral Knight, aren’t well known, and because of the lack of information about their very nature and role in the game, it makes them a rare sight. All other classes use magic behind their attacks, only the Astral Knights and Astral Priests are an exception with their astral energy usage and they are unable to use any kind of magic.
Over time I found out that they can perfectly compensate the lack of magic with manipulating astral energy. Sion once described it as a flowing life-energy which can be collected, reshaped or manifested freely by one‘s own will. As an example he could make a lance out of astral energy or heal wounds by activating a person‘s self-healing ability and speed it up, thus closing deep wounds in the same amount of time as a usual magic wielding priest could. Knowing him for a whole month since the game launched and seeing his special class in action, I can proudly say level 79 Sion can fight these three ogres alone over an extended time and I could sit leisurely down and watch the show from the shadows. He probably will barely make it and his HP will drop into critical condition if he makes a mistake in dodging their attacks, and that’s if he heals himself a few times, but he will definitely survive.
While I intended to leech off a bit on him as revenge for running off on me, he spotted me to my regret quite fast and gave me a “what-are-you-staring-at,-come-over-already“ glare.
Like this, my plan of lazily leeching some EXP failed and I had to move to his side. Still using my stealth skill, I did what I could do best as a proper assassin and sneaked over to one of the ogre‘s backs, grabbing my two daggers to strike from the shadows while my Sylph comrade kept their attention on him.
I waited for a chance to strike and found it, just when the ogre swung his mace above its head I swiftly attacked him with both of my daggers and my stealth skill was hereby turned off. Now I was visible to the ogres again.
The one I already struck with my daggers turned around just when I applied some poison on my daggers to prepare for my next attack. Normally, people would panic by now, but I knew I had enough time to equip poison in the middle of the battle because of Sion, and this was a lesson the ogre also had to learn pretty fast.
While it was distracted for a moment and focused on me, the Astral Knight used his “Astral Ice Chain” skill, which instantly bound the ogre with chains made from ice and a system message popped up.
“Astral Ice Chain” skill has been used.
The opponent’s body movement speed drops by 45% for the next 30 seconds.
This is one of the reasons I enjoy playing with Sion!
He knows exactly when to use his skills and how to play well in a team. Thanks to the ogre‘s slower motion speed I could easily dodge the strike of the mace and launch a counterattack.
Now it was my turn to use one of my Twilight Assassin class‘s special skills. I rushed towards the enemy, my daggers’ color started to darken and in the next moment I vanished and reappeared at Sion’s side. This skill was called “Twilight Dash“, not a really cool or creative sounding name, same as Ice Chain, but it was still a good name for something our superiors decided to choose!
I could only give an evil smirk while watching the ogres’ stupefied face—the realistic graphics of this game have never ceased to amaze me! — when it realized that its life reached its end. What the skill couldn’t cover with damage dealing, was covered up by the poison, and in the next moment its corpse crashed to the ground and was ready to be looted by us.
As unspectacular as my skill sounded, it was still a fast and deadly strike which could deplete a monster‘s or player‘s health by half in a single strike, provided it’s operated correctly. Unlike normal Assassins, the Twilight Assassins have a much higher damage outtake and three finisher skills which can cause lethal damage, one of these could even ignore the armor of its opponent completely– a true class which can only be labelled as cheating!
And this, in addition to the damage of the poison I just applied, added to the prior strikes dealt by Sion and I, had only one outcome: Certain death!
One ogre was down and the other two fell into an enraged state upon seeing their companion die by our hands. Their strength increased, but they still were the same slow, stupid mace swinging ogres as before…
Sion used his broadsword to chop off the second ogre’s arm, together with its only weapon, and then used another astral skill called “Earth Spear“, which literally impaled the ogre from the ground. Needless to say, this one was also dead by now.
Finally we both could face off the last ogre which swung down its mace like a madman at us, but Sion simply jumped in front of me and blocked the mace with his sword. ‘Til this day I still have to figure out what task an Astral Knight actually was supposed to cover; I’m mostly between a tank and supporter class, but he was also great at healing and doing nice damage, so I tended to sort Astral Knights into a “jack of all trades“ group.
While blocking the mace, he pushed it back, causing the ogre to lose its balance momentarily. I instantly struck his vital spots with a combination of many strikes, whilst also applying poison which depleted the enemy’s health by 20% a minute. The ogre tried to kick me with one of its bulky legs but I could successfully dodge it thanks to my high AGI stat. But really, one of their fatal weaknesses is the constant change of target; whoever landed a strike becomes the ogres’ next target, so it was easy to strike them without taking much damage if you have good teamwork. Now it was the Sylph‘s time to strike again, and with two powerful strikes of his sword the fight finally came to an end. We started to collect the loot, though I wasn’t happy with it, while Sion started to laugh.
“I really love this game! The developers have such good humor; I mean just look at this item!” While he said it, he held up some polka dotted underwear and shared its description with me.
Polka Dotted Underwear
This luxury underwear was, as strange as it may sound, worn by a menacing ogre! Suspected to be a new fashion trend, replacing the old tiger-striped design, between ogres. It’s actually an item which was made out of good materials and can be sold to underwear collectors for a high price – provided you wash it before you sell it. It’s still a bit smelly because of the ogres’ unique odor.
Fashion Sense +5 (within ogre territory)
Unlike Sion I could only give off a bitter smile and comment dryly.
“It’s indeed a… unique sense of humor…“
Of course, not many in our company would come up with something this strange, but I already had some perpetrators in mind who I am sure were responsible for this.
With a sigh I looked at my item, and when Sion looked over to me with a “show me your item‘s description already!” gaze I didn’t have a choice but to show him.
A lollipop that was stolen by an evil assassin from a youthful innocent ogre who had his childish dream of owning a lollipop shop. The shameless assassin instead not only killed the poor innocent ogre and robbed him of his dreams, but he even dared to steal his most precious lollipop!
Belonging to the Demon race, this assassin brings honor to his race. But he one day will face divine retribution!
At first Sion’s eyes widened, then he burst out in laughter and had a hard time standing. After a few moments, he slowly recovered from the laughing attack and wiped away a single tear from laughing too hard. I could only give that lollipop an evil glare and feel as if the two natural disasters implemented this item just to annoy me the next time I killed a monster!
It wouldn’t be the first time they especially created an item that one of us GMs would receive on rare occurrences.
“God, this is too funny! Your occupation sure has some benefits aside from the stat and skill bonuses. That the developers even come up with something like this… Haha…”
And thus he burst in laughter yet again.
“Yeah… Maybe they should be called ‘Devilopers’ instead…“
After Sion successfully ended the next laughing attack he patted me in a friendly way on the back.
“But seriously, it never gets boring if I hang around with you. Let us eat something good, you can even use that lollipop as a dessert!”
He couldn’t hide another huge smile but at least he avoided another laughing attack. I sighed but nodded, after all he chose the cooking profession and his level is quite high.
Who would say no to a luxury meal?
Thanks to the games’ and VR technologies these days, even smell and taste could be recreated, and I must confess I really like the food he cooks. After knowing him for a while now, I found out that he was actually a cook in a high class restaurant!
Someday I have to visit him there and try mooching some good food from him.
It didn’t take us long to find a nice place to sit down and eat. Under a big tree I started to lay out a huge blanket for our “picnic” and sat down. While the red-haired Sion started to cook with amazingly smooth moves despite his crimson colored heavy armor, I laid down and relaxed a bit with a nice breeze passing by. The longer the food cooked, the more delicious it smelled, and I couldn’t await the moment when it was done. Luckily, after 5 minutes, my private cook finished cooking and came over with two plates. I sat up again and thanked him before I dug into the curry rice.
Normally I don’t like spicy food, but for unknown reasons Sion had the talent to make even spicy food delicious to me!
Too bad he wasn’t a girl, else I would have a hard time considering cheating on my girlfriend and probably break up not long after this…
But food sure can manipulate people, even my prior anger of being left behind for the zillionth time disappeared in mere seconds. Just when we began silently enjoying the good food, we heard a “cluck-cluck” sound.
Surprised, we looked around for any monsters we might have overlooked before, but couldn’t see a single one, until we spotted a cute little hen pecking happily at the ground for food. “Uh…do you see what I see? That’s a hen, right? An NPC animal and not a monster from the golden name tag…“
Sion said while observing the hen‘s movements with his ruby colored eyes
Instantly I had to think about a strange bug. I finally spotted a bug to report.
“Looks like it. Though I don’t know why there’s a hen in the middle of nowhere far away from Ruak Village.”
The Sylph still followed the hen‘s movements and started muttering something which sounded a lot like choosing delicious parts from the hen to cook.
“Keruna… do you know if it’s possible to catch such an NPC and cook it? I could add it to our curry rice…”
A true cook to the core! I really liked that idea!
Just then, the hen stopped in its movement, looked over to us with its dark round eyes and lowered its gaze to our plates as if it understood what we just said, but it probably was just hungry.
“Hmm… Yeah, why not! Let us try it out; trying it won’t hurt us after all! And this hen sure looks delicious~“
Just when I finished my speech, the hen’s left eye seemed to flinch and its look drifted back from the food to us. When Sion stood up to go over to the hen, the hen‘s eyes strangely narrowed and its name tag suddenly changed to red, like the color of a monster who spotted a player to attack. Additionally, its name, “Hen“, changed to “Furious Chicken Who Resents Cooks And Their Allies“.
My mouth gaped open and before I could even stand up, the chicken‘s eyes had a bloodlusting gaze. It grew above double its prior size and started to run in our direction while frantically flapping its wings. Wait, did its beak just sparkle in the light, and why does it suddenly look sharper?!
For a moment Sion froze in surprise, but then he realized that we were being attacked by our future food and he hastily grabbed his sword just to block the chicken‘s first beak strike with a loud “Clang” sound.
In the meanwhile, I checked the chicken‘s status with my special assassin’s skill to collect some more information and wondered how a beak clashing on a sword can make a “swords scraping against each other“ sound.
Furious Chicken Who Resents Cooks And Their Allies
Level 100 Boss Chicken
A hen who lived a normal peaceful life until it met a certain cook and his ally who intended to eat it. Realizing that it would die, and probably so would many more of its kind afterwards, it made the hard decision to bravely sacrifice itself to protect all of chicken-kind from the ominous grasps of their natural enemies and bring down divine retribution!
At that very moment only one thought crossed my mind.
What the hell is this bug?! And why do I have this strange impression that the lollipop is somehow related to this!?
After seeing its level I jumped up and informed Sion right away about it and its boss status. Of course, he paled as much as I did, and I sprinted to his aid. He was able to avoid another strike by the chicken’s beak, but the strong impact made him lose his balance and he fell down to the ground. The last I could see was a chicken standing in front of his head with an (Is it even possible?!?) evil smirk on its face.
It then moved its foot over the Sylph‘s head who could just look up to the chicken with his eyes opened in terror and surprise. The next moment Sion was killed by a mere stomp of the chicken‘s leg, and was lying dead on the ground. I couldn’t believe what I saw; my tank and cook was stomped to death by a mere tiny chicken‘s kick…
Knowing that I probably don’t have any chance to revive him until the chicken leaves the area, I hastily activated my stealth skill to hide from the chicken‘s eyes, but I had to face another shock. Said chicken slowly moved its head like a monster from a horror movie into my direction, its smirk, which I doubt I imagined, growing bigger and then vanishing to just reappear…in front of my face!!!
In the next second, I was literally pecked to death! The surroundings turned black while I received the following system messages:
You lost all your health and died. If you aren’t revived by a teammate you’ll respawn inside the “Church of Life” in Crea City. Upon death you’ll lose 50% of the EXP gained in this level, and you won’t be able to log in for an hour.
New achievement: “Killed By A Chicken” has been unlocked. This rare title is only bestowed to people who successfully managed to get killed by a chicken, on a high level.
After this I received a whisper from Sion.
“You also died? Let us meet tomorrow at 7 am at the church. We lost 50% of the EXP, but I think this still was fun and we at least received a rare title! See you later!”
He logged out instantly before I could reply anything, so I angrily logged out as well.
The hell was this?! I don’t care about the title and why in the world is there even such a title?! Guess I have to go and meet someone from the development department.
Not long after this, I rushed over to the development department and went over to the next best person I met since joining the company.
“There’s something I want you to check about a possible strange bug…“
I explained the situation in details and the guy only could furrow his brows, and looked inside the game’s system.
“There’s a special quest like this but…the level of the monster is 80 and not 100. Are you sure it was 100?” I just nodded and then I suddenly jerked up after hearing a familiar voice; it was one of our superior, the “Fienja” one…
“Sorry, I just passed you two while talking and heard about that quest! That’s a cool quest right? I invented it not too long ago… and when I saw you enjoying the game so much together with that player I thought I let that player and you experience something funny and set the level to 100. So it’s not a bug, but how was it? I bet this is a lifelong lasting experience you can brag over to every player!”
Rendered speechless, I could only turn around and stop myself from strangling my superior on the spot.
“It was fun watching, but you two both had good jobs and equipment! I was a bit disappointed that you died so fast, however you at least got a rare title. By the way you two even are the first people to own that title. Well, I still have to work on the next event with Kaje so I’ve to go now, see you later!”
And with these words our superior rushed off and I could only look after her with a growing dark expression while the development department guy just sighed and set the chicken‘s level back to its original number.
Sadly, at that moment because of my anger I failed to hear the most important part and even the development guy only realized it when I was long gone…
Screw the title and the long lasting memories!! I prefer erasing this whole event instead! I was just pecked to death by a mere chicken and my online friend was humiliated by being stomped on by it when we intended to eat it!! In the first place don’t make your employees’ lives even harder by directly messing with their work, the hell is this?!
I really wonder how much I have to pay an assassin to get rid of you two now… God, how will I explain this to Sion? “Sorry it wasn’t a bug but instead a special event“? This is the only explanation which may work that I can come up with right now, but still…
While I was lost in my thoughts there was a certain meeting held inside Mirage of Eternity not long after the encounter with Fienja…
Two creatures, a white deer and a black dragon, met near Ruak Village and looked at a certain chicken.
“This was really fun, did you saw their puzzled faces? Priceless, just priceless!”
“Oh yeah~ But… there’s still something missing…“
“I know what you mean, I had the same feeling…“
“The chicken itself was good…“
“Yep, but… maybe… lets add something more to its design! How about a bit for decorative purposes when the quest is triggered, like a bib around its neck?”
“Great idea!!! This was indeed the missing piece in its perfection! Let us do that. I’ll speak with the design department later~“
“Good, then we finished another great quest thanks to Keruna’s help. He sure is a nice guy and helping us out a lot!”
“True, he’s a really hardworking fellow and quite funny; maybe we should raise his pay a bit more?”
“Sounds good, but let us discuss it after the “necromancer event“?”
“Sure, well then, let us plan this out well! The players should fully enjoy our undead invasion~ I bet you want to be the Minstrel Kaje~”
“Hehe, I love minstrels, so yeah~“
Their conversation continued in this manner, accompanied by some random evil laughs in between. Like so, a new trial was born for Keruna and all the Night Dragon Corporation employees. While the sky seemed to grow darker by the minute for these poor, clueless, hardworking fellows. Keruna in his anger still hadn’t noticed the ominous words mentioned in his superior’s last sentence to him, and once again destiny’s gear began to move mercilessly.
¹EXP: Experience points – Marks the character’s progress towards the next level.
²Fame: With more fame that players collect by completing events, discovering, quests, etc… they rank closer to the top in the player ranking.
Proofreader: Sinros and Weni