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233 Non-Human Resources.

 Everyone except for Perfect was waiting outside when Dave exited the chief's hut.

"Did anyone find anything good?"

Head shakes and empty hands were his answer, no one had.

"Not even a gold coin man, buncha stingy piggies," Fortress complained.

"Let's wait for Perfect then."

"Where is he?" Flanker asked.

"The last orc chieftain was writing a letter when our lady of Mercy killed him. He wrote something about a dying creature in a cave that's somewhere nearby. If I understood the message correctly this tribe of orcs was just a minor branch of the high orcs, the main tribe is still out there somewhere. The big leader of the orcs must have sent the Ripping Tusk tribe to find the creature in the cave."

"Why didn't the orcs just kill it if it was dying?" Demeri said.

"The chieftain of the Ripping Tusk tribe asked the high orc leader to send reinforcements, so it must have been too powerful for them to handle."

Mercy frowned then asked "So, whatever is in that cave frightened an entire tribe of orcs. And you want to go check it out?"

"Why not? We got rid of the orc tribe and have the coordinates for the Urburg teleport gate. We all leveled up from grinding last night so we only risk a little EXP if we respawn."

Ralph chimed in, "Dave's right, this is the best time to try something new, or just stupid. Especially since Mr. Moneybags Skeletal over here is going to cover any damages that are incurred, right?"

"Yeah, don't worry I got you." Dave looked around and caught Lone's eyes on him but she looked away quickly.

The tension between them was growing. But Dave was not in the mood to bridge the new awkwardness that had entered their relationship. Yes, he'd spoken harshly to her, but she needed to hear the truth.

"Found the cave," Perfect said.

"Where are you?" Dave asked.

"I marked the map with the location. It's really creepy here, guys, like a murder of giant crows nested here."

Dave didn't understand what Perfect meant by the last bit so he just ignored it. He checked the map, Perfect's marker wasn't far at all. It would only take them a minute or two to get there.

They headed for the marker, through the orc village and into the forest. The normally dense undergrowth thinned as they neared the indicated area and Dave spotted a black feather as long as his arm on the ground. Then another. As they continued toward Perfect's marker the feathers on the ground grew more and more numerous.

"Huh, so that's what Perfect was talking about. Someone murdered a buncha crows," Flanker said.

"These aren't bird feathers," Dave said. He opened his inventory, the item he was looking for was glowing brightly.

***

Feather of the Fallen [Quest item]

The Holy Church is searching for the Fallen Archangel, Naethiel. Finding Naethiel first could change both your destinies.

This feather will glow when the Archangel is nearby.

***

"That winged motherfucker is here," Dave blurted out.

"Who?" Ralph asked.

"One of the fuckers responsible for the fall of the legion, looks like that fickle bitch, luck, is on my side this time. I look forward to shoving my sword up that thing's ass!" Dave stomped forward.

"Dude, Skelly looks pissed!" Flanker whispered to Fortress as they followed Dave.

Spike was standing a few meters away from a cave entrance. The ground was carpeted with black feathers.

"Am I glad to see you guys," Perfect said. He was petting the fiend alleviating his uneasiness.

An eerie wail echoed from the cave, filled with enough pain to chill a Wendigo's soul. The other Players shuddered at the sound, butut Dave didn't flinch, he just kept striding toward the cave..

"Dave, what are you doing?" Perfect said.

"I have a debt to settle," Dave said and entered the cave.

The rest of the party looked at each other in confusion and followed Dave.

The cave was dark, humid and cold. But Dave didn't hesitate, he moved farther into its depths.

***

You have entered a private instance.

***

"What's this now?" Dave wondered.

Another horrendous cry echoed from the cave.

Dave continued moving ahead, the rainbow-hued feather in his hand lighting the way.

"Stroke, we're stuck," Perfect sounded over the party chat.

"What do you mean stuck?"

"There's a barrier, we can't get to you," Perfect said.

"I think this is related to a quest. Wait there until I'm done," Dave said.

Dave moved along the cave tunnel, he felt something soft under his feet. Bringing the glowing feather closer to the ground, black, so many black feathers, like a carpet covering the cave floor.

Dave continued walking until he reached a cavern at the tunnel end.

The archangel sat with his back against the cavern wall on the far side of the chamber. Wounds all over the once pristine angelic form oozed black ichor. The archangel's wings, once rainbow colored, were almost completely black. Only hints of prismatic color remained here and there.

Even as Dave watched a glowing rainbow colored feather fell from the archangel's wings. When it touched the ground, the archangel screamed and ripped handfuls of the black feathers out, refusing to accept the change. Hoping that glowing feathers would grow instead to replace the pitch black ones, but only more black feathers appeared. Screaming again, the archangel's fingernails raked deep wounds across an already bleeding, once perfect visage.

Dave took his first step into the room and the archangel's bloody face came up.

"LEAVE THIS PLACE!" the archangel screamed in cacophonic angelic chorus at Dave.

Dave ignored the angel and walked forward.

He inspected the archangel.

***

Archangel Naethiel [Falling]

Level 680

HP 1/???

DN???

MA???

Skills???

Lore

Messenger of the Demiurge and once a powerful archangel, tricked into colluding with demons. After being touched by the Curse of Undeath, the archangel lost the purity of spirit that angels are required to maintain to serve the Demiurge and is slowly falling into depravity.

***

"Remember me fucker?" Dave said and brandished his flamberge.

The archangel didn't care.

"I SAID LEAVE!" Naethiel slammed his hand down on the the stone, cracking it. A spear of light coalesced in the angel's hand.

The archangel had only one HP, but that didn't mean he couldn't kill Dave. Still, Dave continued toward the archangel.

"You brought this on yourself," Dave said.

"Who are you to judge me?"

"You probably don't remember, but you almost killed me in the siege of the Dead Realm. Yeah I was the guy next to the Undead King."

"Lies, there were no humans there, only undead filth!"

Dave didn't feel like correcting the archangel or explaining his undead avatar.

To Dave the archangel was a fat chunk of EXP and potential high-level loot. Dave wasn't the kind to monologue like some cheesy villain in B-movies. He simply raised his flamberge for a quick deed of death.

Another feather fell from the archangel's wings and the angelic-chorus voice screamed in pain again.

Dave stood in front of the anguished archangel. He could easily kill the archangel by just activating [Aura], but he wanted to confirm something first.

Dave pointed his sword at the Archangel and said, "Tell me, what happens when an archangel becomes completely 'Fallen'?"

A familiar voice answered from behind, "The archangel will no longer be affiliated with the divine. Which means..." Dave turned to see the god of Undeath gesturing with his pointing finger downward. "...the hot place."

"I figured you'd show up, " Dave said.

"Yeah, yeah, I know, it's good to see me," the punk god of Undeath turned back to the archangel, "Serve me, Naethiel."

"Foul creature, I serve only lord Demiurge," the archangel roared back.

"Your poncey poseur of a 'lord' turned his back on you soon's you weren't perfect anymore. Serve me. We have cookies."

The archangel stared at him, "You are mad."

"No, really, we do."

The undeath god snapped his fingers and a plate of cookies appeared in his hand. Chocolate chip, apparently.

"See? Have one." The undeath god offered the plate to the angel, then to Dave.

Dave shook his head, "No thanks. You can't just swoop in and take a free kill."

"So, you want to kill the angel to avenge your undead king?" the Undeath god asked.

Dave considered correcting the teen god. But then dismissed the idea of telling an NPC that killing a level 680 creature meant a ton of EXP and some seriously phat loot.

"Yeah, Fancy-Wings here ruined everything for me."

"But I have a use for Nancy-Wings."

"Never, you foul perversity!" the archangel stood with immense pain and difficulty.

The undeath god gestured and the glowing rainbow feathers were torn from the wings one by one, accompanied by the archangel's now unholy screams.

"C'mon, join me, Naethiel. Damn that's a poncey moniker, I promise to give you a much better one if you come work for me, something much cooler. And easier to spell."

The punk god leaned in and faux-whispered, "You know, we aren't what you priggy folks think we are. Being Undead is about personal expression and not following the sheep, bucking The System, sticking it to The Mans-es. Like the ones who screwed you over."

"My lord will never allow me to serve another god, His will is absolute," the archangel said.

"Yeah well, that's just what he wants you to believe. It ain't true though," the god of Undeath held his arms out and looked up, "Isn't that right, Demicup? C'mon, smite me oh mighty smiter! Show the poor deluded angel just how 'all powerful' you are, you twit!"

Dave half expected some act or wrath of the divine to rebuke the punk-kid but nothing happened.

"See? He doesn't give a crap about you. He never did. He's just a pompous self-important pig in a fancy cloud-castle. C'mon bud, you gotta make a decision, when that last feather falls you're gonna lose a lot of your power."

The archangel hesitated. There was only one last glowing feather left on his wings.

"Choose me. At least you won't lose your status as an agent of the divine. Just think of it as changing bosses. And I promise you, I won't ask you to bring me coffee," the Undeath god snickered.

The archangel felt the last glowing feather on his wings quiver, threatening to fall. There was only so much change the angel could stomach. Attending to the divine was what angels do.

The archangel's knees crashed to the stone floor.

"I accept, twisted one."

"Excellent. But you really need to work on your people skills. I get it though, you were between me and the hot place, which isn't really much of a choice at all. You'll come to understand in time,"

The young god snapped his fingers and the archangel disappeared. The God of Undeath turned to Dave.

"Sorry about taking away your revenge-kill. I'll make it up to you kid, promise. Eventually you'll come to see that having ole Nancy-Wings Nate on our side is a good thing."