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The fastest one of that small group was our vice-guildmaster and infamous cactus healer Emeralda who hopped over to us, followed by our guildmaster Keradis.
As usual, Keradis was quite the sight to behold with his huge stature of a Felidae. Compared to the small cactus beside him, Keradis looked like a giant with his two and a half meter body size.
Our guildmaster chose the necromancer class but instead of following the classical “dark” appearance of necromancers, he chose to go for a “white” necromancer image, also partly to confuse his opponents who fight him for the first time.
Because of his white tiger Felidae and white clothes, many of his PVP opponents in group matches are being fooled by his appearance and think he belongs to a healer class, like a priest, or that he’s a mage at best.
This usually leads to one of two outcomes for his opponents.
In the first one, where they focus on our necromancer instead of our actual healer Emeralda, they go through a small nightmare where they’re getting slaughtered by Keradis’ horde of summoned skeletons and the curses he places on them, while Emeralda is healing everyone from a comfortable and safe distance.
This way, Keradis can surprise his unprepared enemies and focus on dishing out damage while he protects our healer, who in return can constantly heal Keradis, turning him into an unkillable monster. When the enemy finally realises that they got the “wrong person”, it’s already too late to switch targets.
Moreover, if they already got fooled by Keradis’ appearance, then they’ll get tricked by Emeralda’s appearance as well. With his clothes, players usually think he is a gunslinger or one of the hunter-classes, and until they find the actual healer in the group, Keradis can mow them down.
In the other case, Keradis would be ignored at first while the opponent focuses on the “more troublesome” classes instead. This also doesn’t end very well for them because this allows Keradis to concentrate on dealing damage from the very beginning of the match. In this case he usually moves towards Emeralda to let some of his undead summons protect our healer while he throws out curses from afar.
To sum it up: Either way it will be devastating for his opponents!
And this little advantage is only created by the “harmless” white appearance of his. Other necromancers, who wear nothing but black and all the usual necromancer accessories, are usually targeted by the entire opposing team in order to take them down as fast as possible.
After all, the necromancer class has the unique trait of being able to reanimate dead teammates. Together with their curses and summons they are a truly fearsome class.
Needless to say that this only works with people who got fooled by Keradis’ appearance in their first match. After they were confronted with him once, they learn from their previous mistake. However, this doesn’t mean that they have an easier time dealing with him in their next match, because he obviously anticipates that they will focus either on him or Emeralda and has other evil tactics at hand.
Even I had to go through this experience in the past. Back when I wasn’t in his guild and was bored, I decided to play a few rounds of PVP. There I met him for the first time and was fooled by his Felidae’s white tiger appearance.
I used my stealth skill, sneaked fastly behind him and attacked. My first two attacks hit but the damage wasn’t as great as it should have been against a cloth wearing class. I soon had to figure out the hard way that he belonged to a class which equips leather armour, has more defence and… was hit by a couple of curse spells which caused a myriad of abnormal statuses, while Keradis put some distance between us. Afterwards he summoned some undead who finished me off rather quickly due to the debuffs I was under.
At that moment, I noticed that I’ve made a grave mistake and attacked not only a necromancer, but also someone who’s really skilled at PVP.
That experience really made me feel like some kind of noob and I learned not to make decisions based on appearance during PVP matches. Especially because some sly people like Keradis exist who purposefully trick people by wearing armour which looks more like cloth armour and further improves that illusion by dyeing it in another colour…
While reminiscing over the past, I looked over to Sion to see his reaction towards our “white necromancer”. Sure enough, since this was the first time they met, and knowing that this huge, ferocious looking Felidae clad in nothing but white was a necromancer in the first place, he stood there with his mouth gaping open. Now I really wanted to see his reaction towards our “oldest member” which was right beside our Necromancer, “Die Omi”.
Sure enough, Sion finally noticed the human woman right beside that huge white giant, who wasn’t even half of Keradis size or half as attention grabbing. His jaw unconsciously dropped further down, after noticing her character’s name in combination with her old appearance clad in red cloth armour. He probably wondered why she chose such an old looking appearance and name, but Die Omi, who’s very talkative, already answered him before he could even think about how to form his question.
“Haha, youngster I’m already an old lady so don’t be surprised so much over my characters appearance. I’m already seventy years and played games even before you were born.”
Emeralda had a huge grin over his cactus face and added to Sion’s surprise.
“She’s an old veteran gamer and never stopped playing games even after she reached old age! Isn’t she amazing? After such a long time she kept her gamer heart and spirit alive and even bought a capsule to continue gaming.”
Keradis also smiled, though it looked a bit awkward because of his tiger face and his bared fangs.
“Even if she’s much older than you, she’s still a really good gamer despite her age. Luckily people in VR games aren’t limited by their body’s capability because the capsules read the brainwaves, so as long as you’re mentally healthy you can play to your heart’s content. Some VR games are also used for medicinal treatment and people who’re paraplegic are able to play games and interact with other people without their bodies limiting them. Omi’s reaction speed is still good for her age.”
“Exactly! Though my son is trying to make me quit gaming because he’s scared that I could get a heart attack if I suddenly get scared by something. Hmph, at my age a heart attack and the like can happen any time, he’s worrying too much over this. I would rather die while playing anyway! Even if my body is old, my soul is still young!”
“Haha, I bet you’ll really die gaming old lady! Whatever, quit the talk about your age and stop taking the spotlight from us others. First time meeting you Sion, I’m Asterdon and the younger brother of Keradis. Hope you remember me from the day you joined us. If not, I’m the main tank in our guild and belong to the Guardian class, so if you join us on dungeoning and raids, we’ll see each other quite often.”
Keradis is already really impressive in his own right for preventing Omi from talking us to death, but Asterdon isn’t far off from Keradis with his nonchalant way of talking and treating our old lady as anyone else inside the guild. For my part, I can’t treat her like this because I always have her age in mind and automatically treat her more respectfully than the other members.
With this self-introduction, Sion’s attention finally moved over to the two meter werewolf walking behind Keradis and Omi. Standing next to Keradis and Asterdon, Omi and Emeralda looked really small. Our werewolf was clad in his usual black heavy armour over which he wears a royal blue tabard with our guild crest, a symbol depicting an abstract black whirl. Asterdon wasn’t only our main tank for many dungeon runs and raids, but also one of the best players inside our guild who learned from his elder brother. Being one of our highest leveled players after Keradis and Emeralda he ranked 200th on the player leaderboard, a bit behind our guild master’s 53rd place and Emeralda’s 155th, but still one of Mirage of Eternities highest ranked players.
Hm… My guild sure has some big-shot players after all~
If it wasn’t for my hidden class and rather good gaming skills, which I even have to train a bit inside the company during our so called “how to improve your VR gaming skills in Mirage of Eternity” seminars, I probably wouldn’t be able to get this close to these guys.
Well, at least I wouldn’t get invited regularly to do dungeons and raids with them. I even participate in some of their PVP matches against other guilds. I really wonder when my superiors intend to start the international pro league PVP matches of the top guilds in Mirage of Eternity, I bet those guys will rank quite high at them.
But I was already aware that Sion has zero awareness of the leaderboards and therefore won’t notice that he’s standing in front of some really good players until someone tells him this directly to his face…
I’m quite sure Sion still doesn’t know that he joined one of the top guilds inside Mirage of Eternity because his rather impressive 4243rd rank on the leaderboards caught Keradis’ eye. Reaching rank 4243 is a really amazing feat for a random player like Sion, especially if they are not even aiming for this and just enjoy the game the way he does.
I’m sure he didn’t even notice his own rank on the boards because he’s completely uninterested in this kind of stuff, even if this is the main reason Keradis gave me the task to pull him into our guild…
Though on second thought…
Sion’s ranking could also be the result of him sticking to me most of the time. After all, I’m a Hidden GM who knows much more about the game than most of the players and he was basically stuck to me since the first day he joined the game.
Back then, I was working and occasionally helped out some new players who just joined the game. While doing this I somehow encountered Sion, we got along well and started to party up more often. Over time we got quite close and more or less formed a permanent party.
Hm… Luckily I’m a Hidden GM and not a regular GM, otherwise this permanent partying could be a bit troublesome. At least I can use the excuse that it’s for work…
While I was once again lost in my own thoughts and contemplated if this could cause some problem in the future, Keradis introduced the next guild member to Sion.
Our level 72 Human Summoner, Lanciel. He was also a guild member I was close with and we often went to dungeons together. In one of our guild’s dungeon runs he was really lucky and able to contract a rare boss monster, a black hellfirewolf called Seranbourgh.
It took our guild a long time and a lot of effort but in the end we managed to get him this rare summon. Back then, Emeralda jokingly suggested that he should call the wolf “lil’ Aster” because its fur had the same black hue as Asterdon’s, but this was promptly rejected by the pet’s owner and our werewolf, who felt his dignity was at stake.
Once more lost in my memories, I completely missed the whole conversation until Lanciel suddenly spoke to me and woke me up.
“Are you and Sion participating together with us in the upcoming NDC event in Crea City?”
This instantly ended all my reminiscing over the good old memories I had and reminded me of my tight schedule of the following next days in preparation of the big event. I could only sigh inwardly and nodded.
“I’ll participate. Sion, you’re also coming right? I doubt you want to miss out on this.”
And as I already expected, he instantly agreed. He loves the events hosted by my company and he never missed a single one of them ever since he joined the game.
“Yep, I intended to participate in the event ever since it was announced and will even take a day off from work because of it.”
“That’s the right gaming mindset, youngster!”
Uh, Omi… Well I guess it’s better than pretending to be sick to skip work like some in our company try to do, but then they remember that their work would accumulate and pile up to a fearsome level. Still, I wonder if it’s fine to encourage people your age to play games? Not that I’m in any position to say anything, considering my job and the amount of time I’m spending online…
“Good, then I’ll include you two in our team when we face off the twin liches.”
Soon enough, after getting our confirmation Keradis noted us down for that day and skillfully, without Sion noticing, involved him more with our guild to make it harder for him to leave the guild later on. Once you get along with the members of a guild and make some friends, it’s hard to leave, but I won’t point this out to Sion. Joining a guild is for his best after all!
At least I try to believe this after dragging him into my guild “by force” and hope he’ll forgives me faster if he likes our members.
“The lich twins? Not the event outside of the city?”
“Of course not! We must aim for the strongest enemies and the most challenging content! Moreover, you’re ranked 4243 on the leaderboards, so of course we take you with us for the main event.”
I looked over to Asterdon’s kinda proud face, then to Sions puzzled one and finally back to Asterdon, waiting for the show to unfold.
“Ranked 4243 on the leaderboards? What leaderboards?”
As expected, Sion doesn’t disappoint me! This must be a critical hit to Asterdon.
Asterdons face instantly changed into a look of disbelieve which looked quite comical on a werewolf’s face. Even Omi gave Sion a look as if he was a walking enigma. I guess at her age and long history of gaming she never encountered a guy like Sion who’s quite high on the leaderboard and… didn’t even know about it or notice that he was in one of the top guilds.
Keradis and Emeralda on the other hand were calmer because it’s been quite some time since I told them about Sions negligence in regards of knowledge about the game’s lore, the top guilds, pro gamers and any such stuff.
Unlike the others, they even patiently explained everything to Sion.
Lanciel was only surprised for a very brief moment, because after seeing an old lady like our Omi, who was still playing games even at her advanced age, nothing could shock him anymore. To him it wasn’t that strange that other players didn’t knew about such matters. He only looked over to me and raised an eyebrow, seemingly asking “Why didn’t you tell him that we’re one of the top guilds?”. I only shrugged in reply. I was well aware of Sion’s lacking interest concerning matters like these, and if I had told him everything beforehand his reluctance in joining my guild would’ve only grown stronger.
While Sion listened to Keradis and Emeraldas explanation about the leaderboards, there was someone else attentively listening to their talk. It was my subordinate NPC Tian, who even furrowed his brows. Suddenly he asked me a question.
“Your Highness, these so called ‘leaderboards’, seem to be some kind of ranking of the people chosen by the gods, correct? How high does my lord rank on these?”
I looked at Tian and inwardly cursed.
As a Hidden GM I obviously wasn’t on the leaderboards and back when Keradis invited me to his guild after a few rounds of PVP matches, he didn’t care about my rankings because he had already seen my skill. Now however, knowing about my hidden class, performance, level and regular participation in dungeons and raids with his top tier guild, not seeing me anywhere on the leaderboards did puzzle him a bit.
After all, I should have a ranking similar to Sion’s.if you keep all these things in mind.
I told him the standard excuse given by us Hidden GMs: “I prefer to keep a low profile because of my hidden class and I value my privacy, so I asked the NDC support to hide my ranking on the leaderboards”.
There are actually some people who really do this, though there aren’t that many. They appear on the leaderboards as “unknown”, which means that as long as I tell him I’m one of those people, I’m fine. With so many guilds it’s quite hard to figure out who the people listed as “unknown” actually are.
But this doesn’t mean I want to remind everyone from my guild about the matter of my ranking. The less we talk about it the better. So I had to come up with an acceptable reason for Tian to stop mentioning it. In the end I decided on the easiest to accept answer for Tian and while everyone was still focused on Sion I whispered it into his ear.
“As your lord, I’m naturally ranked very high, but I can’t disclose the details this easily. After all, the other people chosen by the gods would be envious of my high rank and position and scheme against me. If my guild members disclose this information by mistake, my enemies would appear one after another. In order to avoid this outcome, don’t mention this matter again, even inside my guild..”
Tian nodded eagerly to show that he understood my reasoning and then also started to whisper a reply.
“I understand, I won’t mention my lord’s might in front of any chosen one, even if these chosen ones belong to your circle of subordinates!”
I can’t remember calling my guild mates “subordinates” but as long as he won’t mention this topic again I’m happy enough, so I’ll just ignore this.
After half an hour passed, the introductions and Sion’s enlightenment about our guild and leaderboard rankings were done and everyone parted ways in order to work on some guild related tasks.
As the ones in charge for the NPC army, Sion, Tian and I went to the castle’s barracks to finally tackle the challenge of recreating the NPC army to increase Du’Thane’s safety level a bit.
Tian led us to a specially created room for the summonable kind of soldiers. Inside this room was a huge magic circle drawn on the ground and as soon as I came close to it, it started to glow and a system window appeared with a list of all available soldiers I could chose from.
Of course I instantly chose the “Demonic Lesser Golems” because they were the cheapest out of all available options. For now I’ll let Tian train these low-level golems a bit and once some time has passed, and my financial situation has improved, I’ll get stronger soldiers. Until then, the golems will have to do the job.
When they level up, we can get them some better equipment and improve their usefulness a bit more.
After confirming my choice, the summoning circle started to glow brighter. A second later ten soldiers appeared in front of me, equipped with a breastplate and a lance. At first I stared at the motionless soldiers, then I looked back at the information window to read the description of my newly created soldiers once more.
“Golems” was clearly written there, but when I looked at them I couldn’t believe that they were golems. In my imagination, golems have a humanoid shape and are made of earth, but these things clearly looked like some “mud slimes” to me. They really looked like some brownish slimes that had been stuffed into heavy armour and were holding a lance with some tentacle-like arms.
I resignedly accepted my fate and decided to just get used to them. As long as they do their jobs it should be fine. Even if they look like someone made slimes out of mud, I just have to try and earn as much money as possible in the future to exchange them with some more impressive soldiers.
Somehow, my loyal dog, ah, no… subordinate, Tian, noticed my displeasure over the “slimes” and instantly tried to cheer me up.
“My lord, please leave the training of these lower life-forms to me. Once Your Highness can invest more into the army we can recruit higher ranked demons. Until then I’ll personally take care of the soldiers’ training.”
Looking at Tian I wondered if it’s possible to clone Tian somehow, or if there were demons like him inside my territory I can somehow recruit for free. Maybe I can somehow use my status as a Hidden GM to get Tian cloned? I guess a no-cost army of Tians would be good.
While musing over this I stared at Tian and slowly nodded. Under my gaze Tian shivered for a brief second and seemed to notice that my thoughts wandered into a strange direction.
“Your Highness, if there isn’t anything else I can help you with, I’ll excuse myself to train the soldiers.”
I nodded once more and Tian instantly ordered the “mud slime gang” to follow him outside. If I wouldn’t know better, I would believe he was actually running away.
Sion gave me a suspicious look and finally couldn’t prevent himself from asking me any longer.
“Keruna, what are you thinking about? Your expression turned scary again.”
“Do you think we can clone Tian somehow?”
“I don’t think that’s possible. Moreover I would feel even more sorry for him…”
I sighed and decided to stop thinking about cloning Tian for now.
“We have to find a way to earn more money. I want to upgrade the mud-slimes to normal demons as quickly as possible.”
“Yeah, but how will we do this? Didn’t you say you’ll be busy for a while because of your work?”
I nodded and thought about this problem for a bit. Suddenly I remembered that Keradis earned a lot of his money by running dungeons.
“Guess we have to work on this after the lich event. Maybe we should join Keradis on some dungeon runs and sell the dropped items.”
“Hmm, okay. I’ve only been inside a dungeon once, so I don’t have much experience. Do you think it will be alright for me to join them?”
“Sion, you’re now a member of my guild, it’ll be fine. Moreover, Keradis and Emeralda will explain everything we need to know before we start. You don’t have to worry about it.”
“True… I was forced to join this guild after all…”
“You still didn’t forgive me?”
Meanwhile, at a far away location, a huge army of undead continued their journey to Crea City and faced a small obstacle. They had to cross a big river. Unfortunately, the current was strong and the undead army was neither good at swimming nor good at finding a solution with their usually low intelligence.
In the end the procession on their way to victory came to a suddenly halt and one of the smarter army commanders, a two meter tall skeleton with a burning sword, decided to ask their leaders for advice.
Thus he rode his skeleton horse to the carriage in which the great lich twins, as well as one of their most trusted commanders, sat and discussed their future invasion plans. Once he reached the carriage he went off his horse and knocked on the carriage door which was promptly opened by an elegant vampire.
“Captain Toriel, there is a problem.”
“Hm? What kind of problem?”
“There’s a river in our way…”
Toriel raised one of his eyebrows and looked into the direction the skeleton commander pointed to. Once he saw the huge river and that the current was quite strong he furrowed his brows.
“I’ll ask our leaders for advice, please stay put.”
Once he said this, the vampire closed the door again and looked over to the two liches, who were playing “cards against humanity” instead of discussing any army related matters and were eagerly waiting for Toriel to finish whatever business there was to continue playing together with him.
Toriel knew that their mood was really good while playing this game and he dreaded having to destroy this moment of bliss. Under the eager gazes of the lich twins, who wanted to continue the game, he could only swallow and put on his best smile in an attempt to lessen the feared outcome.
“One of the army commanders just reported that we’re facing a problem.”
And as expected the mood instantly became frosty.
“What kind of problem?”
“Can’t it wait until we finish our game?”
In front of the powerful liches, Toriel felt really bad for spoiling their fun and barely managed to keep up his usual elegant smile.
“My honourable masters, I fear this problem can’t be delayed. Actually, there is a huge river in front of us which we need to cross.”
“River? What river?”
“The hell, why is there a river in our way?”
Both of them suddenly made a hand gesture and in front of each lich appeared a small illusory map. Toriel had already seen this magic a few times, but it was just as astonishing as ever and showed how vast the magic knowledge of his masters was. He himself was very interested in this kind of magic and wondered if he could ask the lich twins to teach him.
Sure enough, after checking the map themselves and confirming that there was indeed a large river in their way, the liches’ mood instantly turned bad.
“Looks like we overlooked this part…”
“This is really a problem. There’s no bridge near our location as well.”
“Damn. I can’t believe we got owned by a river!”
“What shall we do now?”
“How about we grab someone and change the map design?”
“Oh right, we can do that! Let us just add a bridge here. I’ll send the coordinates and we can wait here until they are done.”
“Toriel, tell everyone to take a break. We’ll summon a bridge later to cross this stupid river. But hurry up so we can continue playing~”
Toriel bowed respectfully and instantly passed the orders to the skeleton commander. After that he continued to play with the liches and wondered how powerful their magic truly was if they can easily create bridges out of nothing. He really liked serving under these powerful masters, not only were they easy to get along with, but he also had a lot of fun to work under them.
Furthermore, he could experience many new things, like seeing new spells he never saw before in his long life as a vampire, or playing this funny game. The only thing he feared was them being in a bad mood, because it was hard to tell how bad their mood was from the emotionless skull face. Considering the amount of power they had at their disposal, it would be a bad idea to step on a landmine, but apart from that he was really enjoying himself serving these amazing masters.
Moreover, Toriel recently found out that the interesting Demon he met a few days ago was actually another subordinate of his two masters who was on an undercover mission, so his mood was exceptionally good. The liches even gave him permission to visit Keruna whenever he wanted and snack on him from time to time with a “you two sure get along well, we don’t mind” attitude.
As a vampire whose lifespan was exceedingly long and often accompanied by boredom, he looked forward to an interesting future with his new masters and colleague.
“Okay, so the next one is: ‘A romantic candlelit dinner would be incomplete without___’ Choose your cards.”
“Hm, you seriously got a ‘blood’ card, Toriel? You sure have some luck drawing that card as a vampire. Well I only have a ‘winking at old people’ card.”
“Pff, winking at old people as a lich? Nice one. Death is upon you, huh? Mine is an ‘edible underpants card’…”
“Edible underpants? Damn this one is also good…”
“Die Omi” is german for “the granny”; Keruna mostly shortens her name to “Omi” though cuz he’s too lazy.
Namo-Note: Using just “Omi” is usually a sign of affection, since that is what (little) children call their grandmother here in Germany.
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