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202 I AM NOT A HUGGER!!

 ATTENTION READERS! THE AUTHOR WOULD LIKE TO ASSURE YOU THAT NO WILDLIFE WAS ACTUALLY HARMED IN THE WRITING OF THIS CHAPTER!!! ENJOY!!

Back in Conquest a continuous stream of invective could be heard coming from the entrance to a seldom used back-alley in the city of Moria.

"Fucking shit! This can't be happening! I lost the fragm- No, it was STOLEN from me. Before I could even figure out what it was for, or what it was supposed to do!" Dave looked around suspiciously.

'First the Skynet fiasco, now this. Something's rotten in Denmark.'

The thief had come out of nowhere, done the dirty deed and disappeared, all in less time than it took to blink. He didn't even get a glimpse of the perpetrator. Just that laugh, that snickering, smug laugh. It sounded like a hyena. And how did that smegger steal something right out of his hand? That wasn't supposed to be possible in Conquest!

Players couldn't steal equipment from other players. The thief had to be an NPC even though Dave had never actually heard of an NPC stealing from a Player. Equipment and item theft wasn't possible, even Players with the Thief class could only steal from NPCs, not other players. He wondered if he'd been targeted in some new way; instead of a Kill order, a rob-him-blind order. But he hadn't gotten any notification to that effect.

'And the fucker called me kid!'

He almost went on another jag of cursing but took a deep breath and stopped himself. It made him feel better to let loose, but in the end it didn't accomplish anything.

He looked through his inventory again. All his items were still there, even the Doom Knight Armor and the dragon egg. He didn't want to take the egg out and risk the thief coming back and taking that too.

He went to the Moria bank branch and accessed his vault box. Everything was just as he left it, so neither the company nor the thief had gotten into his vault and taken the gold.

"At least i still have the money, even the Undead armor and weapons are still here."

He went next door to the auction house to get some potions. The potions from the Undead Realm were much stronger and more expensive than regular player-made potions, so he wanted to save those for emergencies.

After stocking up on consumables Dave checked his character screen.

Level

311

Class Death's Apostle

Name Death Stroke

Race Human

Health 431,200

Mana 6,400 +(275)

Stamina 3,210

Rage/Focus 100

Intelligence 360 +(18)

Wisdom 410+(20.1)

Dexterity 360 (+18)

Agility 360 +(18)

Vitality 43120

Strength 560 +(28)

Magic Absorption 6000

Damage Nullification 9000

Immunity 30%+(1.5%)

Prestige 1800

HP Regen 0.1%/sec +(0)

Mana Regen 1.1%/sec +(0)

Stamina Regen 100/sec

Rage/Focus Regen 1/sec

Titles

I know it all!

Grand Strategist!

Pride of the Undead! (Currently disabled)

Shield Boarder!

Commander

Unassigned Attribute points

180

'Hm, I failed the legacy quest, why do I still have the Death's Apostle class?'

Players followed Dave through the city like kids tagging along behind an ice-cream truck hoping to snag a free treat. The kill tag over his head was drawing them to him in droves. His eye twitched whenever another noob joined the bunch. They were lower level than him but he knew higher level players could show up at any time.

Picking his moment he ran through the city and out the gates, then sprinted for the forest, cursing and shouting like a madman at anyone that got too close. When Dave reached the forest, most of the lowbie scrubs gave up chasing him. There were too many monsters in the forest, they weren't willing to risk getting killed by mobs while they hunted him.

Dave snorted as he stomped through the forest. He needed to vent some of his anger and frustration.

Red eyes peered at Dave from the shadows, shrubs and bushes shook. But the eerie sounds and creeping mobs of the forest didn't deter him in the slightest. He really wanted to punch something.

And deep in the forest he finally found something to take his anger out on.

Ether Devouring Tree

Level 320

Tier: Epic

Danger level: Normal

HP: 320,000

Damage 23,000-28,000

DN: 16,000

MA: 12,000

Skills:

[Sapling Throw] Throws a sapling toward a target, on impact it does 100% base damage. The saplings latch onto the target and explode doing 120% of the base damage.

[Ether Devouring roots] snarstarget for 5 seconds. For every second the target is rooted they lose 2% current HP. The roots cause a curse effect , increasing the target's Stamina consumption by 20% for 60 seconds.

Bestiary:

Ether consuming trees are mutated trees oversaturated with black magic, they become magic hungry and feast on anything that has magic.

Dave equipped his Death Knight sword and shield then used [Stampede] to smash into the leafless tree monster.

The impact ripped away some bark and the tree retaliated, several of its roots latched onto Dave and started draining his HP away.

Failed to apply stun effect!

When the snare ended, Dave struck down with his flamberge, cutting through one of the roots. The face in the tree wailed in pain as its black ichor oozed from severedroot.

"That's what you get for being a clingy bitch!" Dave cursed.

But the damn tree couldn't take a hint, he suffered another snare effect from its [Ether Devouring Roots]. Dave didn't want to use his only Anti-CC skill [Undying Will], it would be more important to have for later in the fight.

[-8,990]

"Too low!" Dave grunted. He sidestepped a striking root and struck again. Dave continued strafing around the tree, avoiding its attacks, cutting off more roots and finally the armor breaching skill on his flamberge procced.

[-18,488]

"Eat this! Take that!" Dave shouted as he struck, hacking the tree bit by bit, splintering away rotten pieces and scattering them everywhere.

"And that!"

[-17,800]

"I"

[-18,488]

"HATE!"

[-16,200]

"TREES!"

[-19,300]

"FUTHERMU..."

...he continued pounding away even after the tree was long dead, past all reason, until there wasn't a single piece lef that was larger than toothpick.

If the Emeraldpeace guild, the Conquest equivalent of Greenpeace, had witnessed his savaging of the tree they probably would have put a kill order out on him too.

***

There are multiple planar realities that coexist with Conquest, stacked on top of each other like the pages of a book. One of these planes is a proto-reality, the first reality from which all the others were spun out and formed. In that prime-realm the stars are dream-gems strewn across thick, velvet textured aether. Each star emits not just light, but also a faint, perfectly pitched tone. The nebulae of the realm ring in harmony, like crystal chimes, creating symphonies and hymns out of the celestial notes.

A golden door stands high above where Conquest would be if it existed in this proto-reality. Motionless in the aether, attached to nothing, with nothing around it to give it scale, the size of the door is impossible to estimate. The scriptures of the Holy Church of the Faithful claim it is taller than the highest peak in the world and wider than the mightiest river.

A spindle of shadow spun into existence in front of the golden door and a long fingered hand reached out. Curling into a fist the hand swung and knocked on the solid auric metal. The shadow looked like an ant striking a freight-size door. But under THIS ant's fist the massive golden door shivered and boomed. Ripples spread through the aether like heat distortions rising over a moonlit desert, disrupting the heavenly melodies of the stars.

"Who's there!" a querulous voice thundered from beyond the door.

"Open up, poseur!"

"YOU! It can't be!"

"But it is, you old fraud! Now open this pretentious monstrosity or I'll just come through it!"

"Okay, okay, you little hooligan. Don't do anything hasty."

The sound of footsteps came toward the door, then the clunks of deadbolts being pulled back. The door opened, but just a crack, spilling out an unbearably bright golden light.

"What do you seek from Demiurge, Maker of the Cosmos?" The deep voice boomed out in strident tones, disrupting the stars that had just recovered their harmony.

"Can the shock and awe crap, Demicup. You're not the Creator, you're just a glorified architect."

"Harrumph! You little weasel, you have no-"

"Shut it, holy-roller. I'm giving you notice. I haven't been around, but I'm here now. Keep your followers in line or there's gonna be trouble. Understand?" The hand popped the blade of a flick-knife out and pointed it at the cracked-open door where Demiurge stood.

"Okay, you little monstrosity. I heard you. Now, run along I have important things to do!"

"Yeah, I heard you snoring."

The golden door slammed shut with a final boom that once again shook the musical stars out of their just-recovered synchronicity.

Snickering laughter came from the shadow as it spun in place and disappeared.