Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Chapter 3

Chapter 3, huzzah! A happy new year to anyone who sees this!
Yours, mogdogolog

Chapter 3: Pre-exam jitters

Darkness. After spending so much time in a world full of colour and light, the darkness that filled his vision immediately after logging out was a bit disconcerting. Pulling off the helmet Nevil rose from his bed and shuffled towards the door. He entered the kitchen to root around for something to eat before his nap. A quick glance at the clock told him it had only been around an hour since he’d gone into the game, even though it felt like a huge portion of the day.
                He’d pulled out a packet of crackers and was about to start munching on them when his sister walked in.
                “That was a brief session.” She sarcastically said.
                Nevil looked up at her then turned away, nodding in reply. He wanted to excitedly tell all about the wonders he’d seen in New World, how realistic and extraordinary it was. But just seeing his sister had already put a damper on his enthusiasm. He wasn’t playing this game to enjoy it; this needed to be his job. Besides, she wouldn’t have cared anyway.
                “Having lunch?” Clair asked, “Should I-“ Then she broke off, the small room sinking into silence once more.
                After a while Nevil spoke up, “I’ll make s-something for us, j-just take a seat.” He had planned just to dine on the plain crackers, however he needed to make something more nutritious for his sister and quickly pulled out some dwindling ingredients out of the fridge.
                Amazingly enough Nevil was a good cook; he’d always been in the kitchen before the accident. Though in the past few years he’d just eaten basic rations for himself, and only recently had he started cooking for his sister. He started cutting up some vegetables while putting some noodles on to cook, planning a simple stir fry.
                With nothing else to do Clair took a seat at the small table behind him and took out her phone. The conversation between them died once more and neither made an attempt to restart it as Nevil cooked. After a couple of minutes he began to serve up, careful to secretly make sure Clair got the lion’s share of the broccoli, which she loved. He placed the larger bowl in front of his sister and sat down with his own portion and began to eat.
                Having seen the situation of the fridge earlier Nevil grimly realised that soon they’d need to go shopping. He didn’t want to leave the house himself but he hated giving orders to his little sister. He could make an online delivery, but he’d still need to meet and talk to a stranger. While pondering his dilemma quietly to himself Clair spoke up from across the table.
                “You don’t have much broccoli Nevil,” She remarked, “I thought that was your favourite.”
                Nevil looked at his bowl and faked a surprised expression, “Oh you’re right! Well that’s a shame… Oh well, I’m almost done anyway!”
                As he quickly finished off what was left in his bowl he felt his sister’s stare upon him. Glancing up he saw her with a slightly conflicted expression, her mouth open as if she wanted to say something. Noticing him look at her Clair quickly shut her mouth and turned back to her own meal.
                Nevil picked up his empty bowl and left it in the sink, walking back to his room without another word. He flopped onto his bed and stared up towards the ceiling, hundreds of tiny worries trying to surface in his mind. Enough money was left for at least another three months of rent, bills and food, but Nevil needed to make some headway as soon as he could. Pulling an archaic old mobile from his pocket he set an alarm for 2 hours, then closed his eyes to try to sleep.


Dash grinned broadly as he skewered another rabbit with his new sword.
Level up
At last! Level 4! He turned to find his comrades to tell them he’d levelled up again. Trevor sliced up another bunny, while Beauty was still battling with hers a little further away. They were both still equipped with their crappy beginner knives, so fighting the small, agile rabbits was still quite difficult. His investment in the ‘Rusty Iron sword’ had been an excellent decision, even if it had taken all the money he’d saved from selling rabbit carcases. However even with their Level ups and new equipment, they’d still be stuck in their earlier formation if it weren’t for that kindly hunter they’d met earlier.
“Hey guys, hurry up!” Dash yelled excitedly as he entered his stat screen and put his points into strength and agility. He’d already decided to go into a warrior profession so those were the handiest skills to boost.
Trevor walked over to him, slinging the rabbit he’d killed into his rucksack, while Beauty finally finished off her target. “This is getting so much easier!” They’d all bought similar bags in the city, fairly cheap and tacky ones just to so they could fit in all the rabbits. The original worry about the lack of space for loot had vanished when they heard magical backpacks with extended space were available for not too much money.
“Yeah, I just levelled up as well! Soon we’ll be able to go after the foxes as well!”
As the two boys talked excitedly about their kill counts Beauty approached with a little less vigour. “I’m definitely going for a support class…” She muttered, chucking her dead rabbit to Dash.
“Hey, why are you chucking that at me?” He complained.
“You’ve put all your points into strength, it’ll be easier for you to carry!”
Trevor chuckled to himself at the side, earning an angry glare from the others. “Well let’s head back to town for now, to sell these!” He suggested, and so they turned back to Richmond.
Their old traveling formation, Dash and Beauty at the front chatting away, while Trevor followed just behind, had disappeared with all of them now walking in a line. They all talked animatedly together, the slightly more taciturn Trevor fully accepted as a member of the group.
“It was really lucky that hunter was passing by and taught us what to do.” Buzzed Dash.
“We’d been playing this much too like any other game,” Trevor agreed, “New World is far more like reality than it is a game.”
The hunter had taught them some of the same things Peter had taught Divus, just not to anywhere near the same extent or with the degree of harshness. They’d just been taught that their enemies acted like any other living creature would, that they needed to stop being so straight forward with their attacks. Thanks to that the group were able to hunt rabbits individually, quickly levelling up. The only problem was that as time went on most groups found similar mentors so everyone was back on the same level playing field.
“So you guys say, I don’t think it made anything much easier…” moaned Beauty, who had almost zero combat sense.
“It’s a shame Divus wasn’t there to learn too.” Sighed Trevor.
The group fell into a guilty silence. After they’d escaped the rampaging rabbit horde they’d immediately headed back to the city square to recover their fallen comrade. But when they arrived there was no sign of him. After searching the city for half an hour they’d given up and headed back to the woods, hopeful they might catch a glimpse of him at some point later. There was a friend system, and they could send messages to friends even from a distance, but none of them had thought to befriend Divus earlier.
“He must have given up and logged out.” Dash guessed.
“No way, you saw how crazy he got when it came to fights! I doubt someone like that would just quit!” Trevor retorted.
“But he was quite literally torn apart by bunnies.” Beauty quietly said.
“That would put a damper on anyone’s enthusiasm…”
They changed the topic away from that slightly depressing subject and chatted on other things. The sky was darkening as they finally made it back to the city gates. It was hardly suprising, they’d been in the game world for around 15 hours now and at the start it’d been early morning. All the stalls were beginning to shut so they quickly ran to where they’d sold their rabbits earlier.
“Excuse me! Wait up a sec! We’d like to sell these please!” Dash cried as he brought the rabbits out to show the packing merchant.
The trader had turned as Dash had shouted and briefly scrutinized the goods, before giving a snort and he continued to pack his store.
“More little bunnies? Enough, I don’t want to buy them!” He shouted angrily.
“Wah-? But why? I thought you traded in meat?” Dash questioned in confusion.
“Aye I do lad, but you bliddy foreigners have absolutely saturated the market with the furry little buggers! Enough’s enough, I don’t want no more!”
Dash was taken aback. Everyone had heard how realistic this game was meant to be, but this was ridiculous! Player actions had actually changed the market demand for an item! The merchant had already stowed away all his goods and disappeared, leaving the small shocked party behind.
“Well that was…. Unexpected.” Trevor said dumbly.
“Yeah… C’mon, we’ve been on this game for ages, it must have been a few hours in real life as well. We better log out.” Dash tiredly decided. It was the truth, they’d been running around fighting for over half a day! Thought they weren’t sleepy they were all pretty exhausted. Not only that, but they also needed to take care of their bodies as well. They had no sense whatsoever of what state they were in in real life. It wouldn’t be funny if he crapped himself.
“Sure, but before we do I want to see what sleeping at a tavern does, you guys want to see too?” Trevor asked.
“Might as well I suppose.” Dash agreed.
“I want a separate room!” Beauty demanded, though Dash didn’t think she was in much danger from Trevor.
They walked through the medieval streets towards where they’d seen an Inn earlier. Dash marvelled at the game once more as they walked, all the NPCs were headed off home as well, entering their house or going to a tavern to drink after work. It really felt like an actual town. There were far less players on the streets as well, though hundreds of the creepy stone statues they left had littered the square and streets.
“Wait a sec. Isn’t that…” Trevor tailed off as he pointed to a young man walking along in the distance.
They all immediately recognised it as Divus, who was walking alongside a scruffy looking older man. However even as scruffy as it was it was obviously not the beginner garb that they were all stuck with. He’d gotten an NPC mentor? Well that might explain his disappearance but Dash’s relief soon gave way to a slight envy. While they were slaving away trying to kill rabbits he’d managed to hitch a ride on the coat-tails of some higher level NPC character, he might even have gotten a class already!
“Let’s go say hi!” Beauty suggested, while Trevor already headed off towards him.
Divus and his friend turned down an alley, vanishing from sight. Unwilling to lose him again Trevor and Beauty broke into a run to catch up, Dash following slightly more reluctantly. They sped down the alley he’d gone down and out into the road on the other side, but there was no sign of them. Beauty and Trevor sighed in disappointment, both annoyed that they missed a chance to reunite with their former comrade. Though they’d only known him briefly his general shy awkwardness and stubborn determination in danger had endeared him to them. Dash however was surprised to find he felt a little relieved.
“Come on guys, let’s find an Inn then log out.”


After logging in Divus was immediately confronted by the rough features of Peter examining him from mere inches away.
                He yelped and pushed himself quickly away while Peter stood and began laughing to himself.
                “Sorry about that! I was just taking a look at that weird stone form you foreigners take when you leave.” He explained, walking over to help Divus to his feet. “Anyway lad, are you ready.”
                While rubbing his behind Divus looked directly into his eyes and gave a completely stutter-less “Yes sir!”
                Smiling at the fearless response Peter began walking towards the door. “Well lad I got some things to prepare before we can begin, tag along.” It wasn’t so much an order as a suggestion, but the words still compelled Divus to quickly clamber to his feet and follow after the retreating form of his teacher.
They exited the old warehouse into the pale red light of the early evening. Disappearing behind the buildings down at the end of the street, the setting sun cast elongated shadows covering the packing stalls of street vendors. The crowds that thronged the streets earlier in the day were slowly dispersing home. With the vanishing light the city began to change, peaceful shortcuts instantly becoming dangerous death traps.
Peter led them down one such dark alley, which was luckily deserted , and began hammering on a door halfway down. When no reply seemed to be forthcoming he tried the lock, which seemed to be locked. Finally losing his patience he began yelling at the barred entry.
“Holstein, it’s me, Peter! I have’ne any qualms with knocking this door down if you don’t let me in!”
Almost instantly after he began yelling the door was unlatched and pulled open, a nervous, rat like face peering out. “Ah Peter! Why didn’t you say it was you? You can never be too careful at this hour, all kinds of people are after a way to get to me!” Confided a shrill voice. Before Divus could comment on the remarkable lack of clandestine pursuers Holstein quickly ushered them and slammed the door behind them. He then waited for a few moments with his ear pressed against the wood.
Just as Divus was about to comment on how silly it all was they heard the sound of multiple feet rushing down the alley. Holstein waited until the footsteps died away before finally turning to face his guests.
“You see! I told you they were after me. Oh the woes of being Richmond’s greatest alchemist!” He lamented.
Divus was quite taken aback by this surprising turn of events while Peter, who had just been trying to stifle a bored yawn, realised Holstein’s crazy episode was at an end and they could do business.
“So doc, I just swung by to see if you’d any mana crystals for sale?”
“Why do you never come during normal opening hours? No matter, of course I do, hundreds! Big ones, small ones, weird cursed ones!” He said with a giggle, “Got a nice experiment to do? No you meatheads are too busy killing things; need it for a job I guess. What do you fancy, 500? 1000? Or is it a big enough beasty for a 10,000?”
Dr Holstein span around, his mouth slightly agape in shock while he fell squarely onto his ass. “W-w-w-what do you need that for?!” He spluttered.
Divus, who was watching the scene from the side, could no longer contain his curiosity. “What do those numbers me?”
“Mana crystals are crystallisations of pure magic concentrates; s’like we all have a measurable supply a’ mana in our bodies the crystals have a similar unit.” Peter explained. “We can use the crystals as an extra mana supply alongside our own, however they aren’t rechargeable.”
That makes sense, Divus thought, like an external memory drive added onto your computer. Well not really, but close enough. But still how much was 100,000? If he remembered right he had about 130 points of mana…. Oh. It was a lot.
“What could you possibly need that much for!?” Holstein cried, finally recovering enough to re-join the conversation.
“That’s my business, isn’t it?” Peter coldly replied
“Who says I’ve even got one?! Who’d keep something that large?”
“I know you have one. Don worry, you’ll get generous compensation. You know we’re good for it.”
“No, you can’t! It’s not for sa-“ Holstein began to spout, but he suddenly shut his mouth. After squirming around for while he continued. “Very well, since it’s you. But I want 10,000 gold for it! Not a penny less!”
“Done!” Declared Peter, the usual jovial smile quickly returning to his face. “Hurry and get it, then we’ll be out o’ ya hair.”
Holstein disappeared down the corridor, the pair hearing him distantly climb down some stairs. After a couple of minutes he’d returned carrying a large wooden box. Passing it to Peter he tiredly sat down with a disappointed expression. A blue light washed over Peter’s face as he opened the box and he gave a satisfied smile. Swiftly closing it again he said his goodbyes and led Divus back out onto the street.
They headed straight back to the old warehouse, the streets now nearly empty. As they walked Divus thought back on how readily old Holstein had given up on the crystal. He could not help but wonder once again; who was his enigmatic new master?


The sun had finished setting and darkness had smothered the streets by the time they’d returned to the warehouse. With Peter stopping at the entrance and sweeping his gaze up and down the street before ushering Divus inside, it felt as if they were about to do something very illicit.
                Closing the door behind him, Peter walked briskly to the corner of the old storeroom where their intense training had finished just hours before and pulled open a hatch into a basement. The old trapdoor had gone completely unnoticed by Divus earlier, thick layers of dust made it indiscernible from the rest of the floor. At this point a torch was produced, the pale moonlight peeking through the gaps in the wall failed to penetrate the murky depths of the cellar stairs they now had to descend. He paused briefly to position the box that held the mana crystal at the edge of the opening.
                As they climbed carefully downwards, Divus gingerly testing his footing with each step, a ridiculously large and cavernous room was revealed. The light of the torch could not even reach the walls, making it impossible to estimate a distance. There was only endless black space that stretched out in all directions.
                Peter broke the eerily silent atmosphere. “I’ll mention it once again. This test you’ve will push your mind as far as it can possibly go, and then further. Ya seem to have your own reasons, and I won’t pry, but be aware that this is not the only path you can take lad. And it is most certainly the longest.”
                Shocked speechless at the immense basement he’d been led to Divus responded with only silence. However even without words his determination could easily be felt. Peter led him off the staircase and a few paces into the vast room. Catching his prospective apprentices eye as he turned he could do nought but sigh. While fear and curiosity easily made themselves known not a trace of doubt marred Divus’ face.
               “Take this, and these,” Peter said, handing him a scabbarded sword and a large backpack. “The test can last for days, in some cases even longer. Unfortunately I cannae do anything more to prepare you. Quit anytime you want, but that will mean failure. I don’t think I need to say it, but death also means failure. When you pass… well, you’ll know. Do you accept this quest?”

Quest: Fear Slaying Test
You have been offered the chance to take an extremely difficult examination by the wandering warrior Peter, if you succeed in this test he will take you on as his apprentice.
·         Difficulty: Unknown
·         Completion conditions: Unknown
·         Rewards: Hidden class tree
Yes / No

                “Of course!” Unperturbed by the ominous name.
Peter’s Mysterious Test accepted.
                They squarely stared at each other for another half minute before Peter nodded and turned away. Divus released a pent up breath, it had been the longest he’d maintained eye contact for years.
                “The test’ll begin a few moments after I leave, th-“
                “Wait you’re leaving?” He flusteredly interrupted.
                The grim expression Peter had sported momentarily broke. “Aye lad I can’t sit in on this one with you.” He laughed, “You wanna quit though an I’ll be right down. Now as I was saying, don’ worry about the light, you won’t need it. And lad…”
                He paused, his serious attitude returned and he began to walk back towards the stairs, carrying the torch with him. As he started to ascend he looked back over his shoulder and left some final parting words. “What we see here, we don’t tell any of the others. Them’s the rules we’ve been following so far. Good luck lad.”
                Divus watched his shrinking back as the light began to retreat from the huge basement. Soon he was left alone in silent darkness, even Peter’s footsteps being swallowed by the void. Without the light everything seemed much colder and a chill crept across his shoulder. He briefly pondered on the rationality of his actions, was there really any need to go so far for a game. But he would not turn back now. This was no longer a game at all for Divus, this was his life.
                While waiting in silence he realised that he hadn’t used any of his stat points from levelling up. Bringing up his character screen he began to choose what to improve. Useful as they were he decided not to put to many points into vitality and endurance, he only had to risk his life to improve those so he focused on agility, dexterity and strength.
                He also unsheathed his sword to have a better look. He brought it close to his head, wondering how to display its stats. “Identify,” he said aloud with vague hope. A familiar blue screen popped into existence before him; though this time he managed to keep his footing.

Plain Steel Sword
An ordinary, but decent, blade. Sharp and easy to use.
Level: 25
Durability: 100/100
Damage: 35 (p)
Class: Common
Effects: None
Restrictions: None

                Divus sheathed the sword with a pleased expression. Although he was not quite sure what it meant, a level 25 weapon was probably excellent for his current state. The blue window, somehow clearly visible despite not seeming to give off its own light, disappeared and he returned to his silent vigil.
                Suddenly the world of darkness was shattered, a light almost as bright as the noon sun washing away the thick mass of shadows. Covering his eyes with his hand to block the intense brightness that suddenly enveloped him Divus swung his arms in fright. His blind panic landed him on his arse, where his free hand made a shocking discovery. He was sat on grass. In a basement.
                As his eyes slowly adjusted to the light he was finally able to explore his surroundings. Above him the sun blazed magnificently in the sky, while a vast meadow spread all around. Had he been teleported he wondered as he stared dumbly at this impossible sight. Was that possible? He had no idea how magic worked in New World, but it was possible. But why, and where too?
                His questions were cut short as he noticed his fellow inhabitants of these idyllic grasslands. He was surrounded, by the worst possible foe. A horde of bunnies raised the adorable heads to stare at him, and then more started appearing from all directions. Within seconds the green grass had been blotted out by a terrifying sea of white, fluffy cuteness. But the nightmare did not stop there.
                The rabbits started to climb atop each other, clumping together at a single point to culminate into a massive structure. Bunny upon bunny built upwards and began to merge together until Divus no longer faced an army of tiny critters but one towering Super Rabbit. This gargantuan beast, that would dwarf two story buildings, turned its head towards him and let out an ear-splitting roar.
                But as soon as he’d seen it’s sinister, beady black eyes Divus had not been considering how to escape it’s fluffy clutches, he’d been planning how to kill it. He could not have asked for a better target for his vengeance.
                “Nevil? What the hell is this?” Asked a shocked and familiar voice from behind him.

                Cautiously turning, Divus found his legs abruptly turn to putty. Stood opposite him and the rabbit stood a figure that couldn’t possibly be in this world. Wearing a simultaneously fearful and disgruntled expression was Nevil Thompson’s little sister, Clair.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Chapter 2

Beast Slayer Chapter 2
Hello anyone interested, I'm releasing chapter 2 now, huzzah. Also editing chap 1 slightly. Again some feed-back would be real great, I'm a little worried about my pacing and some input would be great.
A very merry christmas to you all for tomorrow.
Yours, Mogdogolog!

Chapter 2: Rabbits of Caerbannog

Divus and his new allies turned off the road and headed down a far less well maintained track towards a small forest. Numerous parties of other adventurers were entering before them or sat nearby, apparently taking a rest. A few odd shaped stone statues stood upright along the path and around the forest. They really didn’t seem natural. Though roughly humanoid, they lacked any distinct features or body-parts. Even as vague as they were though, there was a sense that each was somehow unique. Finally curiosity won out of his inherent social ineptitude.
                “W-what are those statues all about the place?” Divus asked.
                “Ah that’s what happens when you log out.” Dash called back, “You just turn into stone until you log back in. It’s a bit weird but at least they’re pretty much indestructible.”
                He turned back to quietly pondering to himself. What would happen if they were destroyed? Would a new Divus figurine appear back at a shrine? Maybe they had infinite health… How do the NPCs react to them? Wait, thinking of NPCs…
                “W-why don’t you just level up through NPC quests?” he innocently inquired.
                An embarrassed silence spread through the group. Eventually it was Trevor who answered. “We don’t know how.”
                “Whenever we ask them about getting a quest they just look at us funny, and talking normally to them just ends with gossip about the weather…” Dash added, this time without turning around.
                Sensing the discontent Divus resolved to not ask any more questions. They continued in silence until the trees began to loom above them. Although not a particularly deep or thick wood it was big enough for hundreds of adventurers to run around without constantly getting in each other’s way.
                “Here we are, ok let’s get organised guys!” Dash declared, his cheerful enthusiasm returning to his voice. The rest of the party drew their knives and crept into the woods leaving Divus to quickly follow suit. Even with Dash’s injected optimism the group had taken a dour air.
                “Ok we’re looking for rabbits; you guys see a wolf we run, you guys see a fox we run. Got it?”
                “We know.” Beauty complained.
                “Newbie doesn’t.” Trevor countered, “What about rats?”
                “…We can take them” Dash decided after a pause. Not sure why they were so tense about rats and foxes Divus decided to just follow their lead and keep low.
                “Listen up Newbie, combat in New World is nothing like any game you’ve ever played; even the rabbits won’t go down easy. It might be because we’re low levelled but they’re tough to kill and fast little buggers. We need to co-ordinate our attacks, ok?”
                With no other option he just nodded, the dead serious atmosphere stealing his words. They might be low levels, and New World was a completely new style of game, but a single rabbit couldn’t cause that much damage surely?
               Seeing his confusion, Dash grinned a little. “Yeah, sounds a bit silly right? Tell you what; I think there’s one up ahead. You take the lead and experience it yourself. That’ll be the best lesson.”
                “Hey Da-“ Trevor tried to cut in, but Dash held up his hand.
                “There it is, you sneak up on it, we’ll surround it. OK?” Without waiting for a response beauty and he crept off. Trevor paused briefly before heading in a different direction.
                Abruptly left on his own Divus had no choice but to advance on the rabbit. It was just a little bunny, he told himself, there was nothing to fear. A small, white ball of fluff appeared up ahead. It seemed to be munching away at a carrot, though where it had procured the vegetable was anyone’s guess. There was absolutely nothing to be afraid of. Telling himself that one last time he tightened his grip on his knife and made his move.
                Careful to make as little noise as possible Divus swung his weapon at the bunny. Yet it easily hopped to the side.
Attack missed.
                A message appeared at the top of his vision. The rabbit was now stood staring him, as if to mock his pathetic strike. Annoyed, Divus launched another cut towards the furry fiend. But this time not only did it dodge; it leapt head first into his knee.
Attack missed.
Rabbit had dealt 12 damage.
                Pain blossomed where the rabbit had struck. Real pain. Letting out a pathetic yelp Divus fell over onto his backside while wildly striking out in the general direction of the bunny.
                “Let’s go!” Came a shout from the trees.
                It took a moment for Divus’ panicked mind to realise that it was the rest of his party dashing to his aid. They all appeared from different directions and rushed towards their tiny foe. It would have been the heroic scene of a daring rescue, if they were not facing off against a bunny. Being attacked suddenly from three directions was too much for it and under the flurry of blows it rapidly lost health. Another message appeared as they final slew the creature.

Rabbit killed, 1 experience has been shared amongst the party.

                Having just recovered his composure at his rescue Divus’ face paled once more at the screen before him. “That bunny was just one experience point?!”
               “No it was five, just shared between all of us.” Dash explained, “Oh yeah, sorry about not telling you about the pain, I was worried you’d chicken out! It’s much less than in real life but it still stings don’t it?”
                Although slightly annoyed, he decided to let it go. Without these party members he’d of probably died in his first fight. Instead he felt a bit invigorated. The shut in Nevil hadn’t had this much excitement for years. The adrenaline buzz still lingered, pumping him with energy. Now was not the time to be annoyed with team mates, now was time for vengeance!
                “Let’s find more varmints!”
                Taken slightly aback by this change in attitude Dash and the others could do nothing but follow as he led them onwards.
                When the found their second rabbit it was agreed they’d use the same formation as before. Divus snuck towards the rabbit to keep its attention while the others spread out to surround it. This time however, he was determined to land at least one hit on it. He was aiming for the strongest in the game. No, he had to become the strongest in the game! No mere bunny would get in the way of that!
                This time he carefully watched the rabbit as he launched his strike. As it jumped to the right Divus tried to twist his arm to follow it but his reflexes were much too dull and it easily dodged again and launched its own attack. He’d thought himself ready for it this time, but when the rabbit struck his legs he unwillingly recoiled in pain. At this point his allies rushed in to kill it, giving the same result as the last time.
                The bunny had barely fallen before Divus dragged the party to the next one. When the third time ended in much the same way Dash called for a halt.
                “Come on, let’s take a break. We’re probably all getting hungry.”
                Hunting rabbits in such a careful way had proved to be more tiring and time consuming then he’d of ever imagined so he stifled his complaints.
                Trevor patted Divus on the shoulder and took a seat on a nearby rock, while Beauty and Dash sat on a tree trunk opposite. Small loaves of bread were produced from there pouches, reminding Divus that he’d also built up an appetite. Eagerly opening his own small bag he pulled out a piece of bread and began to chew into it. Amazingly enough it really did taste like bread, he had to silently marvel to himself about just how impressive this game was once more.
                The party relaxed and began to chat about this and that; it quickly became apparent that Beauty and Dash knew each other in real life, though they’d met Trevor when they first logged on. They were all uni students, studying various subjects. None of them were hugely studious, so they had no problems missing a lecture or two to play this hyped up new game.
                “Where are you studying Trev?” Beauty asked, using a lazy nickname of her own design.
                “Exeter, you guys?”
                “Ooo a red brick! We both go to Bristol, inseparable me and Dash are.”
                “What do you do Divus?” Dash asked
                “I-“ Play video games, was a bit pathetic wasn’t it? But what else could he say? “I was living off playing Neverwhere.”
                Trevor raised an eyebrow, “Really? I’ve heard that’s really hard to do. You need to find lots of rare items for them to sell.”
                “What was your character called? Anyone we’d know?” Excitement filled Beauty’s voice at the slight possibility that they might be talking to someone vaguely famous.
                The others were silent for a second, and then Dash and Beauty started to burst out laughing.
                “You got me there Divus! I thought you might have been serious!”
                He was about to angrily retort but stopped himself. He was well aware of the enigmatic flair people associated with Devil, a pasty 20 year old claiming to be that near legendary figure would seem like a joke. He didn’t need them to believe him anyway.
                Swallowing the last of his bread he stood and faced the others“Let’s get back to catching rabbits!”


The party killed another two rabbits with their strategy, but Divus had yet to land a blow as the bait. He had briefly considered asking to swap out with someone, but that would be admitting defeat! He stoically continued to tank for the team while failing to strike the enemy.
                As they approached the sixth rabbit morale was pretty high, while it was slow progress they were confident that it would be easier when they levelled up. Dash, who had been dealing the most blows, had even created the knife mastery skill. While still at level 1 Novice, it boosted his attack by 10%, and as he improved it that bonus would increase. Divus could only look on in jealousy. Though he still suffered stinging blows he could not allow himself to change his role till he landed a hit.
                This time he would definitely do some damage! As the bunny came into sight he launched himself with as much force as he could muster in an attempt to take it by surprise. Predictably the bunny saw him coming and hopped away. Divus span round to chase after it, only to see it disappear down a hole. He angrily stamped to where it vanished as his team mates appeared.
                “This is new; did it run away from me?” Dash asked
                Trevor snorted and took a look down the burrow. “Do you think it’ll come back out?”
                “Excuse me,” Divus said, pushing past Trevor. He then shoved his entire arm down to try and reach after it.
                The rest of the team were still a bit put off at the 180 in his personality when it came to hunting so just quietly watched him. After a few seconds of rooting around he yelped and fell over backwards as he hurriedly withdrew his arm.
                “Are you OK?”
                “The bugger just bit me!!”
                The party turned to stare at the hole. Suddenly the rabbit reappeared, strutting arrogantly to the entrance. Divus was just about to lunge at it when something else came up behind it. Another rabbit exited, sneering alongside the first. Then another joined, and another, and another. Soon over a dozen bunnies were staring angrily at the intruders in their territory. The two sides stared off for what seemed like ages, adorable little black eyes glaring with venomous wrath. It was Dash who acted first. He decisively and heroically took charge of the situation.
               They all fled, running as fast as they could to escape. The small horde of cute little bunny rabbits were in hot pursuit. Rushing through the woods was harder than they expected, the party would have to keep their eyes on the ground so they didn’t trip on roots, while looking ahead to avoid the trees. The rabbits didn’t have to worry so much and were rapidly gaining ground.
                It was Divus who slipped up in the end, in spectacular fashion no less. His foot got entangled in some weeds and he was launched face first into a nearby tree.
Tree has dealt 23 damage.
                The abrupt end to his flight left him sprawled on the ground. Trevor tried to turn to help, but it was much too late. The bunnies swarmed atop of him, biting and kicking all over. The head-butts he’d suffered earlier had been affectionate greetings compared to the agony he was now subjected to, you try being ripped apart by blunt bunny teeth. He could not help but let out a scream as he futilely tried to throw his tormentors off him. The only small mercy was that it was brief.
Rabbit has dealt 17 damage.
Rabbit has dealt 23 damage.
Rabbit has dealt 27 damage.
Rabbit has dealt 26 damage.
Rabbit has dealt 30 damage.
Rabbit has dealt 22 damage.
Rabbit has dealt 34 damage.
His vision turned black and the forest disappeared.

You have died.
Level has decreased by 1, random skill mastery has decreased by 1.
As no re-spawn point is set you will revive at Richmond

                The darkness gave way to light, surrounding him on all sides. When the light vanished Divus found himself back in Richmond city centre. A few people in the same leather garments as himself spared him a pitying glance before returning to their own business.
                Divus slunk towards an alley where he rested against a wall. The excitement and adrenaline of the hunt had dissipated leaving only an annoyed feeling in the pit of his stomach. Killed by rabbits! He had started his new legend of greatness by dying to the most harmless rodent in existence! He drove his fist into the wall beside him and let out a growl.
                “Wow do you seem angry.” Someone spoke from nearby. Divus jumped a good 2 feet into the air as he span around towards the stranger.
                “S-sorry, I didn’t realise anyone was there.” He stuttered.
                The stranger stood up and turned to face Divus in turn. It was a middle aged man, he had a weathered, handsome face, scraggly beard and an open smile. “I did nae expect the man who’d vent his wroth so aggressively against that wall to answer me so politely!” He laughed with a slight northern accent, “What’s eating ya lad, to get someone so well-mannered so riled up?”
                “…I was killed by rabbits…” Divus quietly confessed.
                “Rabbits?” The man looked at him seriously for a moment, then audibly choked back another laugh. “Wait what do you mean killed, you look fine? Ah, you’re one of ‘em foreigners ain’t ya?”
                Foreigner? It was then that Divus realised he was talking to an NPC. He talked and responded so naturally that he’d only just noticed.
“Y-yeah, that’s right. I’m Divus, n-nice to meet you.” He said, his mind racing back to the terrifying merchant from before
                “Divus eh? The name’s Peter. So tell me how you got killed by rabbits? I just so happen to be a… seasoned hunter, I can offer some pointers” he suggested, bringing a hand to stroke is stubbly chin.
                This might just be a good opportunity, the others had mentioned they hadn’t been able to get a quest from NPCs earlier, but maybe he could learn a skill… Divus began to describe his short adventure, explaining his difficulties hitting the rabbits and the tragic end when happening upon a burrow full of them.
                Peter stroked his chin thoughtfully throughout, occasionally nodding as if understanding something new. When Divus had finished his tale he declared jovially, “I see, so you’re a complete novice then!” And proceeded to laugh heartily.
                Divus winced but could not refute him. While he could be considered a pro at video games his recent experiences had proven quite emphatically that New World was a whole new kettle of fish.
                Peter than gave him a mighty clap on the back, rocking him forwards. “No worries lad! Everyone starts off somewhere! I can sort that out for ya if you want!”
                Having steadied himself against the wall Divus turned around with a new hope in his eyes. “Really? But I’m a stranger, and I’ve no money to pay you…”
                “Don’t sweat the small stuff! I’m stuck in this town for another week at least so I needed something to pass the time!”
                So he was an interesting way to for Peter to amuse himself? Wait do NPCs even get bored? Oh well, if he’s helping me for free I won’t complain.
                “So what will you teach me? A new attack? Or basic mastery of a weapon?”
                “No no no,” Peter laughed, “I’m going to teach you how to fight!”


They walked swiftly through the city, Divus soon finding himself lost in the myriad of streets and alleys they passed through. As they went through another market place Peter stopped now and then to greet a trader or traveller he knew. Eventually a pattern appeared within his seemingly random acquaintances. Not once did he stop by a normal stall or shop, the only goods his friends seemed to sell were far more exotic. There was a dealer of rare and dangerous monster parts, available as trophies or use in advanced potions. Another man sold expensive pieces of enchanted equipment, Peter had poked his head into the well furbished store. The only merchant who dealt with normal wares was the head of a huge trade guild at the centre of Albions economy, or so Divus would learn at a later date. What he did remember was the man disappearing into a huge and ornate building after his brief exchange with Peter.
                Not only did he know various traders, Divus was quite surprised when they were stopped by a small group of soldiers.
                “Ho there, if it isn’t Peter! I didn’t realise you were still here!” Exclaimed the leader of the troop, distinguishable by his plumed helm.
                “Well met Captain, how goes the watch?” Peter replied in a familiar tone.
                “Very well, though a huge influx of foreigners seems to have occurred they’re no trouble. The great forest is all quiet as well, thanks to yourself.”
                “No, I was just doing my job. You lads are the ones that have to keep it that way!”
                “You are too humble, your people are invaluable to the land. I shan’t keep you any longer, but thank you once again for your great service.” The rest of the patrol nodded from behind.
                “Shucks fellas, well if you have a free night then you can buy me drink!” Peter suggested, then broke into a hearty laugh as they parted.
                “That was Guard Captain Donavan. Good lad he is, if still a little wet.” He confided in Divus after they gained a little distance.
                As they slowly eventually approached their destination the questions piled up. Even those Peter didn’t greet himself seemed to recognise and respect him. Although he seemed a well-known and popular figure in Richmond, it didn’t seem like he was a local. Even so, officers in the city’s guard were indebted to him. Just who had Divus unwittingly gained as a teacher?
                The streets began to get less populated and poorly maintained as they walked, proud wooden and stone houses slowly giving way to what was barely better than a collection of shacks. As the quality of the buildings deteriorated Peter finally stopped before an ancient, rotting warehouse. He pushed open the battered door and strode to the centre of the decrepit storeroom. Turning to face Divus he immediately launched into his lecture, leaving no time for him to gather his bearings.
                “Right! Let’s just get started! The reason you couldn’t hit your target is simple, you just blindly swung at it. Hunting’s no game lad; you can’t expect to stand still trading blows against a monster. Just as you react to him, he’ll react to you. Against a fast moving opponent that’ll never work unless you’re far quicker! And even against slow opponents it’s the most inefficient way of attacking! What all warriors and hunters must learn is how to read your foe!”
                Peter’s booming voice echoed throughout the empty storeroom. Divus was unsure as to why he needed to be so loud…
                “Now I’ll level with you laddy, others can teach you what you need to know to fight rabbits and their training will be miles easier. Because I’m not just going to teach you how to fight, I’ll be teaching you how to dominate. But be very aware, this nae be easy. I shall be pushing ye to ya limits, and beyond, jus’ so you can kill a bunny.”
                Unknown to Peter, this was exactly what Divus wanted. If he was being offered to learn far beyond just the basics then he’d readily agree. He had to become the strongest; nothing would stop him from reaching that goal. Turning his lips into a fierce grimace he stared resolutely ahead, there was no way he’d be quitting here.
                With a satisfied nod Peter brought out a large gem and muttered some words into it. A green glow spread out from the stone and a shape began to materialize in the centre of the warehouse. In a matter of seconds a demonic beast was brought into existence; thick threads of saliva hung from wickedly pointed teeth and ferocious yellow eyes latched onto Divus. All of a sudden the option of quitting didn’t seem so unacceptable. Being bitten by those rotted fangs would be incomparable to the nibbling to death he’d received earlier.
                “The goal is simple, kill this beast. When you’re wounded I’ll heal you. You have as long as it takes.”
There was no need to go through that, surely? Yes there was. He needed to succeed in the New World no matter what, for the sake of his sister. After so many years as a recluse, getting a normal job was impossible, and it sure wouldn’t be enough to send his sister to university. He needed to become the strongest. There was no other path left for Nevil Thompson to take.
                “If ya wanna flee, then now’s the time lad!”
                The Hellhound rushed towards him.


Peter had noticed the change in the boy’s eyes as soon as he’d gripped the knife. What could possibly drive such an innocent looking youth forward into the maw of a beast so inexorably? The truth be told, Peter had expected the boy to turn tail as soon as the Hellhound took shape. That he was forced to wait in this town and was looking to relieve his boredom was true, but he’d had no intention of actually training Divus. It was meant to be a rather cruel joke to kill a few minutes, then he’d take him to some other trainer to learn the basics. Yet now Peter watched an amateur face off against a monster he stood no chance in beating.
                To make matters worse he was now completely unable to stop them. Though reluctantly, Peter had to recognise the young warrior’s spirit. To stop now would be an insult. And so he found himself doing what he’d deceitfully promised.
                Divus struck again, completely missing the hound and taking a vicious clawing in return. He let out a short scream, cutting it off by clenching his teeth tight. A ball of light struck him and the wound knitted neatly back together.
                “You’re striking blindly! You swipe at where you see your foe mindlessly. You’re not playing a game boy!  The enemy does not want to be hit! Watch him, follow his every motion, learn to read where he’ll move and strike there!” Peter bellowed from the side.
                And so the lesson began.


The deaths of Nevil’s parents had broken him. After they had died in a car accident when he was 15 Nevil had fled from the world. He stopped attending school, or even going outside, eventually just holing himself up in his room. Both his he and his sister had been taken in by their uncle, but he was never around due to work so other family members tried to assist the siblings. He couldn’t take Clair’s accusatory stares when he exited his room, and eventually stopped going out altogether. While they’d initially been understanding, the various extended family began to give up and left him alone, which suited Nevil just fine.
                Confined alone in his room, eventually Nevil started playing online games. Whether he was looking for companionship in the virtual world or whether it was just another way to pass the time, even Nevil couldn’t say. But he never even talked to his team-mates. When he found Neverwhere he quickly became hooked. He’d sometimes go days without sleep and before he’d realised it himself he reached the top of the game. As strangers began to tell tales of his virtual adventures something was rekindled in Nevil.
For the first time in years people were praising him. Though they never said it out loud, he knew everyone blamed him for the accident, after all he blamed himself. But online nobody did, nobody even knew who he was and now they even celebrated his achievements. So he set about cementing his role at the top. He actively took on the famous dungeons and bosses. After a while he even began to talk with other players on rare occasions.
                It was during one of these conversations that he heard about selling items online. When he began to participate in the auctions, sometimes selling for hundreds of pounds, he truly began to feel as if he’d achieved something.  He felt that maybe his sister could be a little less ashamed. Maybe he wasn’t so worthless.
Around this time the uncle he was staying with began to get into some financial trouble. He took on loans to stay afloat. Unable to handle the repayments and interest eventually he skipped town, saddling Nevil and his sister with the debt. This wasn’t a tragedy however, this was a chance. A family meeting was held to decide what could be done for the siblings, but unexpected by all Nevil appeared and said he’d take care of everything. At 18 he was legally an adult, so he could take in Clair. Without a stable income, though, it was a pipe dream. However when Nevil showed them the money he was making online everyone dropped all their complaints and quickly consented.
He realised they just wanted someone to take care of it who was not themselves, but that was just fine with him. Nevil could finally support his sister himself, he could lose himself in the world of Neverwhere, he could be more than a simple screw up. However the only way to achieve these goals was to never lose his position at the top. To always be the best. You could say that this became his reason to carry on.


“He’s too quick for you too dodge! Absorb the blow, move back as he drives forward!” Yelled Peter.
                It had been a few hours since they began, but Peter had yet to call a break and Divus had yet to ask for one. The wolf struck again and, following his teachers instructions, he rocked his body back in time with the claws.
Hellhound has dealt 118 damage
While the timing was imperfect and the motions amateurish the scratch was noticeably lighter than before, he was almost at the point where he could survive 2 hits in a row. There was no time to idly marvel at the worlds physics engine, but it was truly wondrous that such details could be factored in. Divus struck back in retaliation, scratching the hide of the Hellhound who’d unbalanced itself with its lunge. Numerous other nicks and cuts had appeared on the beast as the training progressed, a testimony to Divus’ advancing skill.
                The hound leapt back and began circling the young fighter. It had grown increasingly wary of Divus as it began losing stamina in the prolonged duel. They each stared keenly, waiting for any sudden openings, the Hellhound looking for any weakness in his guard while he kept his gaze locked on the wolf’s eyes. That was one of the first things he’d learnt, the eyes were almost always the precursor to an attack.
                “If your foe shows no openings to you, then you show an opening to him!” Peter shouted, “In your current state you can aim for a counter!”
                As they’d progressed Peter had been calling out many different strategies for Divus to try, they’d then continue until he’d succeeded in carrying it out once and then try a new one. Still, this next move was risky. If he mistimed his strike then the Hellhound might well kill him outright with a critical hit. Holding his knife ready Divus broke the stance he’d forcibly gained through the life or death training.
                Immediately sensing an opening the Hellhound bounded towards him, this time coming with its jaws agape. Just as it got within range Divus swung his blade at its head, but only managed to graze its side. The hound ripped into his arm and he screamed as he tried to shake it off.
Hellhound has dealt 197 damage.
                Divus’ eyes widened as he finally shook the wolf off. That was only 3 health points away from being insta-killed. A ball of healing energy hit him again as he recovered his stance.
                “You idiot! Have you not learned anything?!” Peter cried, “You struck at where the wolf had been, a counter is about knowing exactly where the enemy will attack! Time it right!”

Due to receiving constant life threatening attacks Endurance and Vitality have increased by 1.

                The message window that popped into being in front of him caused Divus to drop his stance in surprise, which the wolf immediately tried to capitalise on. The slashing claws snapped him immediately back into the battle and he rolled to the side, barely avoiding the blow. So that was what it meant by in world actions boosting your stats.
                He brought his mind back to fighting the Hellhound. As they resumed their staring match Divus made another intentional slip. The hound leapt at him once more. Not yet. It reached out with wicked teeth, its lips peeled back in a mad mockery of a smile. Not yet. It jumped into the air, claws and jaws outstretched, determined to finish this troublesome human in one blow. Now. Its entire body in mid-air the beast was fully committed to its head on attack. While it was still feet away from him Divus swung his knife towards its face. The Hellhound saw the blade cutting through the air towards it, but could no more dodge than a mound of dirt.
                The impact of the collision threw Divus off his feet, his back slamming into the ground behind him as the Hellhound landed heavily atop of him.
You have countered the Hellhound for 560 damage.
Level up
Level up
Level up
Level up
Level up

You have defeated a foe many times stronger than yourself in a prolonged battle;
Vitality has increased by 2
Endurance has increased by 5
Extra experience has been gained

Level up
Level up

You have learnt a new skill: Counter Attack
                Divus climbed sorely to his feet and grinned at the torrent of messages. Not only had he learnt how to fight properly, he’d also gained a good number of stats and levels, these few hours had certainly not been wasteful.
                “Status screen,” He said to himself, opening another blue window.

Name: Divus
Level: 8
Race: Human
Alignment: Neutral
Class: Undecided
Title: None
Health: 610
Mana: 170
Fame: 0
Defence: 1
Vitality: 13
Strength: 10
Endurance: 16
Agility: 10
Dexterity:  10
Intelligence: 10
Wisdom: 10
Luck: 10
Unspent stat points: 35
·         Counter attack (Special): Beginner Level 1 (0%)
Status enhancements:

                The boost in health was tremendous! He knew he’d risen 7 levels but his health tripling was a lovely surprise.
                “Very well done lad, I’ve taught you well!” Peter boasted walking towards him. Divus hurriedly closed the tab and turned to face his brief mentor.
                “Thank you very much sir,” He said without a stutter. After that lengthy fight his nervousness had disappeared.
                “Haha, no not sir, just Pete is fine,” he coarsely laughed, “So what are you going to do now lad? Back to hunting rabbits? Those will be small game for you now!”
                “I suppose so, maybe I can find out how to get a class, do you know where you can get a class Peter- Pete?”
                The rugged older warrior stroked his chin thoughtfully for a moment, as if carefully considering his reply. “It varies on the profession you want, but most people who are experienced in their craft can teach it to others.” He paused, his eyes lighting up as if he’d just thought of something great. “I could even teach you my profession if you want; I’ve been meaning to take on an apprentice.”
                “Really? That would be great! What is your class?” Divus asked excitedly. Peter was an obviously experienced combatant. Not only that but he seemed to be able to use healing and summoning magic. If he was lucky Divus may have just stumbled onto a rare class.
                Chuckling to himself once more, Peter gave him a scrutinizing gaze. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, my class is not something you can walk into. Also, it may not be the path for you, other jobs will offer greater initial benefits, and there are many areas you will not be able to master. The path to becoming strong will be long and incredibly hard, but if it is sheer strength you seek, there is no equal. Do you wish to continue?”
                Swallowing his saliva Divus managed a nod. Peter gave a satisfied nod and then continued. “First of all you need to pass a test, a very difficult and time consuming test. I suggest that you rest a while, take care of any business you may have. Once you start you will not be able to stop until you succeed or you fail. I’ll wait for you here until you return, unless you plan to take over a week I shan’t be going anywhere else.” Without waiting for a response Peter turned to sit against a wall.
                Divus decided to take a brief break from New World, he could log out, eat something and get some sleep. Though a few hours in reality was almost a day here it would not do to rush.
                “Then I’ll return later.” He said to his watching benefactor. Just as he was about to log out Peter spoke again.
                “Remember lad, you’ll only get one chance at this.”
                With those ominous parting words Divus returned to reality.


Peter watched as Divus turned into the weird stone doll form all foreigners seemed to take when they communed with their homeland and gave a rare bitter smile. The others had been telling him he needed a protégé for years now; their ranks had been thinned by far too much in recent years. Still, he felt guilty. The boy was in for many hardships if he were to join their ranks, he had not exaggerated the harshness of the path he’d offered. If anything it would be even worse.
                However even with the constant strife his fellows waded through Peter couldn’t help but think that maybe Divus could handle it better than any of his predecessors. Although he’d been constantly healed and advised by Peter, there should have been no way for Divus to come out on top of the Hellhound. The result had only been achieved by ridiculous amounts of stubborn effort, innate talent and sheer luck. His instincts were telling him this boy could handle anything thrown at him.

                That is, if he passes the test. Many incredibly promising individuals had failed at the last hurdle. Having faced the test himself Peter was aware that even the seemingly indomitable young Divus could be crushed.