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137 Interview

 Dave used the teleportation gate to travel to Moria again, this time with his battalion. Because he was on an actual quest given to him by Delvina, Orn and Gale couldn't come with him.

A force of over a hundred Undead marched out of the teleportation gate, panicking the city guards. Alarm bells began ringing throughout the city.

Local event!

A group of Undead have invaded the city of Moria!

The Holy church will reward players who aid in eliminating the threat!

'I've never set off an event before. Maybe I set off an event because I brought a larger group of undead with me.'

"Make for the gates! Full sprint!" he ordered the battalion.

Dave's battalion moved quickly away from the center of the city toward the gates. Moria was a starting zone for noob players, there weren't normally many higher level players in the city. Nothing good would come of fighting city guards, they weren't very powerful but they could stall them long enough for players to gather and present a real threat to his battalion.

The guards in the streets didn't try to stop them, their fear of the undead overpowering their courage. Though they might have screwed up their courage to attack if the Undead were doing anything other than galloping through the streets toward the city gates.

Finally the gate towers came into site and they made it through the open gates without having to fight anyone off.

Dave looked for the quest marker on his Mini-map, it was moving at a steady pace pointed east.

"We are after a church convoy heading east. Scouts and flanks out! We sprint until they are in sight! "

The undead formed into a file, running behind the dunlords.

Players who were hunting mobs just outside the city of Moria were startled by the presence of the Undead force on the road to Moria. They had gotten the event announcement but not an update that the Undead had left the city..

Some of the players ran deeper into the wilderness to get away from an encounter they had no chance of surviving. But many stood their ground, facing the highway and taking defensive positions after buffing themselves in preparation to receive an attack.

But the battalion of Undead ignored them, sprinting past without even a second look.

At any other time Dave's appearance would have caused immediate and violent reactions from the three super-guilds. Players would inform guild members of the bearded draugr's location, and in no time reaction-forces made up of the highest level guild-players would be porting to whatever region of Conquest he was sighted in to go after him.

But Dave had timed his mission well. As the battalion of Undead ran east to fulfill Delvina's commands, a much more significant event was unfolding both IRL and in-game. It was almost 20:00 EST.

Not only was the auction for the Right of Conquest about to start, but CNN was about to give the public its first view of the invasion of the second Underworld raid-zone!

Players in-game paused what they were doing and adjusted their settings to match real-time and waited for the feed to begin.

Then, finally the clock ticked over to 20:00.

Some people were gathered in the streets, watching through their various AR lenses. Others congregated in bars, malls or other open spaces. An astounding number of homes tuned in to watch the latest Conquest first. The public response to the event was comparable to the World Cup or the Olympics.

On the media channel a picture of the creepy bearded-draugr appeared with the CCN logo in the background.

A well-known female commentator appeared on-screen, with a bright smile she announced that the video of the game footage would be shown first and then experts would provide a detailed analysis.

CCN had shortened the 18 hours of uncut video down to a total of 4 hours of intense gameplay and action. They were going to show one hour each night for four nights in a row. Each night the video would be followed by the expert's analyses and the reactions of the fans and audiences in various venues.

Audience reactions were being recorded by teams of CCN reporters in public venues such as game taverns and VR clubs, even stopping random people on the street.

"That's the creature from the teaser!" a Beast-Tamer commented.

"He survived against a level 750, when he was at level 150. Jeez!" a Paladin in white commented

"That was wicked!" a female Dwarf exclaimed after seeing the fight against the Sworn Stalwart

At the end of the hour the last scene from the Underworld closed, and an announcer's voice asked the audience to please wait for a message from Mr. Skeletal. The screen changed to show the bearded draugr himself, cloaked in darkness. An army of glowing skulls floated behind him, glaring at the audience. He looked at the audience for a moment, then held up a scroll and let it unroll to show the contents. Then he spoke.

When Mr. Skeletal finished saying his piece it was the 'experts' turn to comment and pick apart the video.

CCN had gotten two very special guests to comment from the studio.

"Good evening Conquest lovers and friends. I have some very special people with me here to talk about Mr. Skeletal's video of the Underworld. First, please welcome Thomas Baldwin! Also known inside Conquest as MR. VALENTINE!"

The cameras cut to show female players shouting wildly eyes glazed in fangirl greed.

Mr. Valentine nodded to his host and smiled slightly for the audience.

"Our second expert, Park Song, comes to us all the way from Seoul. He is acknowledged to be the top priest-player in the game and is the right-hand man of the Heaven's Dawn guild, The White Ghost!"

The youth sitting across from Mr. Valentine in a three piece suit nodded to the show's host, his demeanor calm, his eyes giving away nothing.

"So, Mr. Valentine, what do you think of this video feed?"

Valentine paused for a moment before he spoke saying, "Overall it was impressive, Susan. The draugr remained calm and exercised keen judgment while going up against monsters and events intended for much higher levels than he and his battalion.

"Facing a Sworn Stalwart is cause for almost any player to freeze. He displayed great courage to defeat it and complete his quest.

Although it may not be obvious to the casual eye he is a good strategist, his ability to control the Undead and use their abilities to the best advantage is impressive, especially the tactical maneuvering and how he positions his forces against the enemy."

"Ah, apparently you think highly of the draugr, Mr. Valentine. What would you say about Mr. Skeletal, White Ghost?" asked the commenter.

"I agree with all that the honorable Mr Valentine has said. But let us not forget an important element to the draugr's success," the White Ghost paused dramatically, "Luck!"

The commentator was plainly surprised, and glanced at Mr. Valentine as if expecting him to disagree. When the young man didn't refute the claim she encouraged Park Song to continue with a nod and questioning look, saying, "Please go on, Mr. Park."

"You have seen it Ms. Susan, we have all seen it. He simply has good Luck. In my culture, what is called luck, fortune, karma, or to be divinely blessed is an important factor in what determines the path and quality of one's life. There is even a saying about better to be lucky than good in the West.

"Luck has tipped the scales in favor of the draugr on many occasions. Especially, for example, when he fought the Sworn Stalwart.

"However," said the White ghost with his voice trailing.

The audience became leaned forward and waited for the White Ghost to continue.

"One's luck cannot be relied on forever. One day it will fail him when it is needed." The White Ghost sighed regretfully, "At some point we will see the draugr fall, because his luck will not hold at a crucial moment, and he has no other safety net, no guild to 'catch' him at such a moment. At the end of the day he is only one man, alone with only NPCs around him."

"Would you care to comment on this Mr.Valentine?"

"What Mr. Park said is irrefutable, the draugr is not backed by a guild of players. This will ultimately be the cause of his death and fall from grace. The meteoric rise of Mr.Skeletal that we have seen these last few weeks will undoubtedly end. When the Underworld opens to all he will be only a memory to most players."

"Could you please explain that comment?" the commentator asked.

"Sure Susan. The Underworld is vast and dangerous, for any player. Mr. Skeletal is like a pioneer in the American West. Being a pioneer has great opportunities but also takes on great risks.

Wherever he goes and whatever he does, he is the first to experience and be tested by the Underworld. It is inevitable that one day he will slip.

It takes great courage to walk an unexplored path, and Mr. Skeletal has been walking in the dark for a long time."

"It seems that our guests don't hold much hope for the rising sensation, but for at least the next three nights we will enjoy his exploits! One more thing!

"We all know the bidding on the Right of Conquest for the Eastern kingdom started a few hours ago, what do you think about this?" asked the commentator.

"The man has an odd sense of humor," said Valentine with a smile. "He placed an item up for auction with a starting bid of one gold. The item could literally change the balance of power in the game. Though it will undoubtedly end up in the hands of one of the three largest guilds in Conquest, he gave the low-level players the chance to actually partake in this event."

"Why do you think the Draugr did this?" asked the commentator.

The White Ghost replied, "I wouldn't presume to say that I know why, but I can speculate that he is trying to gain the compassion and support of the lower-level player base. Yet, I heard that the latest price of the Conquest Right has reached 17 million dollars, and the price is still increasing."

"That is a phenomenal sum!" said the commentator.

"Not really Ms. Susan, not for what the object is. The price of the item will undoubtedly rise higher. So far the real financial heavyweights have not made serious bids." Said Valentine.

"Mr. Valentine, there are rumors that the Devastators want Mr. Skeletal to join the guild, is there some truth to this?" the commentator asked..

"I have no comment on that," said Valentine.

"It looks like our time has ended. We will have two new guests tomorrow to discuss the content of the second hour of Mr.Skeletal's adventure! See you all tomorrow, right here!" said the commentator and the program ended showcasing the sponsors.

While all this was going on Dave and his battalion had sighted the church forces and the carriage.