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261 Rise Rise, and Rise, Again...

 Dave held the Death Heart over his head and said Drahma's name. The black ray from the crystal lit a patch of ground almost directly at Dave's feet.

"He's right here. Dog, your turn!"

Dog once again thrust his club deep into the earth.

***

Your follower Dog (dullahan, undead captain) used [Raise Undead]!

Drahma the Unfettered, Doom Knight rank undead has been revived from the dead!

Death Heart [Doom Knight] revival condition has been met!

Remaining

Undead King 0/1

***

The ground trembled and rose like a mountain being born up from the depths of the earth. A scream of unbridled rage was loosed into the world as Drahma shook himself free and towered over all, the last titan returned to undeath.

"Welcome back, big guy," Dave said.

"What happened, Kis'Steingbrah?" Drahma asked, his voice booming out over the land.

"You've been dead and gone for a while. I'll tell you all about it later. Right now we need your help."

"Always happy to assist, young draugr," Drahma replied.

"Drahma, we need you to make a path through the demons to the Bone Palace," Samael said.

"With pleasure, lord Samael!" Drahma stomped on the ground and the earth parted around a rising pillar of granite. Drahma whirled the heavy pole and ran to the Undead City gates, shaking the earth with every step.

Drahma rammed through the city gates, shattering them. The demons inside the city shuddered as the undead titan barrelled through the destroyed gates. A demon in blue armor grunted commands and demons formed into single file, defending the street that led to the bone palace.

Drahma ran toward the formation, every ponderous step shook the buildings and walls. He roared, his hatred of all things demon stoked his already terrible battlefury. The giant undead stomped into the demons, crushing scores under his feet as he whipped his pole viciously, back and forth across their formation. A grisly ichorous paste dripped down the length of his weapon, spattering from it with every swing.

"Follow him!" Samael called.

Dave followed after Samael with the rest of their forces on his heels. As the trolls ran along the street, they summoned ice spears and threw them at demons, picking off stragglers with low HP.

Dog rode strayed away from the group, riding his basilisk into the demons without a care, crushing skulls left and right with his bone flail.

"Dog, we need your skill, stay in formation."

Suddenly a horn sounded through the city.

More demons emerged from the houses. bows at the ready and spells prepared to rain down on the 'invaders.'

"Shit, we're surrounded," Dave cursed. The thoroughfare to the Bone Palace was filled with demons.

"Drahma!" Samael shouted, "Throw us!"

"No! Notto disu shitto agen!" Dave's wailing protest was cut off by the giant hand that plucked him, Dog and Samael from the ground and hurled them high into the air.

Dave screamed as he flew upward in a parabolic arc. But too soon their flight reached apogee and they started downward.

"Aghh fuggit, this gonna suck," he swallowed and closed his eyes.

Then the falling sensation faded. He opened his eyes unsure if it was frying-pan or fire. 'It' was a cloud of black smoke underneath them, slowing their fall, controlled and maintained by streams of black vapor coming from Samael. Moments later the Abyssal Knight landed them gently in the palace courtyard.

A wall enclosed the courtyard and a barbican, with steel gates open, faced the city street. Grand steps led up to the large double doors that led into the palace itself. There was a patch of blackened pavement in the middle of the courtyard. Dave didn't need to use the crystal to know that was where the Undead King had died.

A horn blew inside the palace and dozens of demons charged down the stairs from the palace doors. Dave looked back, more demons were rushing toward the barbican gate from the streets.

"Drahma can't keep all the demons occupied by himself. I'll block the gate. Samael, you have to hold off the demons coming from inside the palace."

"You're giving orders now, Death Knight?" Samel said, smiling.

"You have a better plan?" Dave asked his superior officer.

"No, we will do as you say...'commander' K'shtiengbrah." Samael ran toward the palace stairs to intercept the wave of charging demons.

Dave swung the steel gates closed and placed a thick bar across them. He checked Dog's cooldown timer and groaned. [Raise Undead] still had 55 minutes to go.

Samael shoved his hand into the chest of a demon and ripped his heart out. Four other demons ganged up upon him. Samael dodged back and swept sideways with a black dagger in his hand. The blade cut through the demons like a hot knife through butter, splitting the demons in twos. Just as he finished off the demons coming out from the palace, even more demons emerged from inside.

"Dog, summon your basilisk and stay near it. Don't fight, just stay alive," Dave said then he summoned Grumpy to him.

"Grumps! Make it rain!"

The onyx basilisk puffed up and launched spikes in every direction. The spikes pierced leather armor and demon flesh, thinning out the demons.

Grumpy tore into the demons with teeth and claws, tossing them like ragdolls. Dog's basilisk loosed its baleful yellow [Petrifying Gaze] turning demons to brittle stone. Grumpy wasted no time shattering the affected demons to dust with his tail.

Dave could hear a new group of demons pounding at the palace gates. Too soon the pounding turned to hacking, and dents appeared in the steel doors. Samael was still occupied fighting an endless wave of demons coming from the palace. Dave swore, it wouldn't take long for them to get through the gates, he simply didn't have the manpower to actively defend the gates.

"We've got a fucking Hodor situation here."

Dave looked around, a staircase led to the top of the wall that circled the palace. Hoping to delay the gate crashers from the top of the wall he started up the stairs, sprinting. From out of the blue a tremendous blow slammed into Dave's chestplate, sending him tumbling down the stairs

-18,225

"Fuck!"

He scrambled to his feet and looked up. A demon holding a massive two-handed warhammer laughed down at him from the wall.

Dave activated [Stampede] and charged up the stairs, crashing into the hammertime-demon and sending him flying from the wall and over the next row of buildings.

"Payback's a bitch, Bitch."

Dozens of demons were ramming onto the gate. The streets were filled with. The palace gate shook, the steel making it bent and deformed with every hit. Dave's fingers flickered through a series of ninja seals and flames gathered over his head, growing into a sphere of dense fire. He pointed, sending the fireball into the demons packed around the gate. Red damage values drifted up from the demons, but they ignored his attack and just kept going at the gates.

Dave equipped his [Sworn Stalwart] gauntlets.

"Okay then, let's just go ahead and turn the heat up!" He ignited [Aura] and jumped down into the pack of demons.

He struck out with [Dragon Fist] and the flame-dragon conjured by the punch blew through his opponent and the demons crowding behind. Dave followed the fist with [Dragon Kick], sending another flame-dragon into the pack of demons.

[Overheating] procced and red numerical values started rising from the demons within the [Aura] AoE.

Dave just kept adding more heat, spinning into [Infernal Tornado] while [Ray of Flames] spewed continuously from his mouth, adding more heat and creating a vortex of fire around him. The heating effects of [Aura], [Infernal Tornado] and [Ray of Flames] stacked, amplifying the [Overheating] effect.

But the demons still didn't give up, undeterred by the constant damage they were absorbing. They just kept attacking the gates.

-18,990

-20,000

-25,110

"Fuck it!"

Dave used [Zealot], a skill granted by the Legendary tier earring Drahma had given him.

Blasts of steam escaped from his joints as he expanded, growing to twice his normal height in seconds. [Zealot] doubled his HP and increased his damage output by 300%, but it also doubled any damage he took. Dave rubbed another ring, one he'd gotten in Ashkar's Tomb. The Fleshomancy ring's [Imperfect Reflection] skill activated, creating a [Zealot] enhanced clone of himself. Then Dave disabled the [Azure Water] Rune embedded in his chest armor.

A pounding beat pulsed in his brain and a web of cracks spread across his armor plates. Chaos radiated from within the flaws, glowing like agitated lava.

A notification flashed open.

***

Chaos-Energy Imbalance!

Your body is suffering from an overflow of destructive energies from the runes of Chaos!

+300% Damage to all abilities

You will lose 1% of your maximum HP per second until your Energy balance is restored.

***

Dave's HP didn't decrease, the clone passively soaked in all the damage Dave was supposed to take.

Dave swung both fists down on a demon's head, caving it in.

[-228,225]

"That's a one-shot, baby!"

His fists blurred as he punched holes through torsos and turned limbs into bloody parts. The gauntlets turned white and he smiled. More bad shit was coming for these demon-scum.

He already knew what the notification was.

***

Ramp-Up activated!

All your skills have +10% increased damage!

***

"POWER!! UNNN-LIMITED POWER!!" Dave roared like an uber-nerd hyped up on too much Jolt and Mountain Dew.

He triggered [Approaching Dragon], and started disappearing and appearing repeatedly all over the battlefield, attacked at each instance. He broke through armor and bones with his punches but his kicks exploded through the demons entirely, separating upper and lower halves.

New demons joined the fight, coming from nearby streets and swelling the number of his opponents. Dave summoned and detonated a barrage of Spectral Skulls in an arc around him, killing some and blowing others away to give himself some space. Dave broke through the demons surrounding him and moved away from the palace gates. When the demons followed him, he used [Double Edged] and followed it with [Perfect Reflection]

Dave switched position with the clone. The ground trembled then dropped down like an enormous sinkhole and hundreds of fangs burst up from the paved courtyard around the circular depression. The Minghocao's fangs closed over the circle of ground, sucking in dirt, rocks and demons as it rose up.

***

You have leveled up!

***

Dave paused, eager to jump back in as soon as the worm returned to the deep earth. But the Minghocao was lingering, it swayed over the courtyard then vomited a yellow liquid. The demons below were showered with the acidic venom and their flesh sloughed and dissolved, leaving a pink bubbling sludge scattered with the intact bones. The Minghocao dove back into the ground, disappearing from sight.

Dave was delighted, he thought it was a damn cool skill upgrade. He made a mental note to review [Double Edged] after the fight.

A commotion in the distance drew Dave's attention to Drahma's looming presence, still rampaging through the city. Inevitably, packs of demons had gotten past the titan and were headed for the palace.

Dave still had some time left before his herculean power up ran out. He ran into the pack of demons punching and kicking, crushing skulls and rib cages. His EXP meter rose steadily towards the next level-up. By the time he'd killed off the last demon his HP was down to 1%, so he re-enabled [Azure Water] Rune to remove the Chaos Imbalance buff.

***

Azure Water rune activated.

The Azure Water rune reduces damage from Chaos energies.

Balance restored.

***

Dave slugged back a health potion and his HP started rising slowly. When there were no demons left in the streets, he used [Immortal Apparition] to teleport back into the courtyard.

He leaned against the gate, tiredly. It had been a long day with a lot of fighting. He had a few moments before the next pack of demons reached the gate. He glanced at the blackened courtyard pavement where the king lay, then at the stairway that went up to the palace doors.

Despite not being a 'real' tank, Samael was still holding back an endless flood of demons coming from inside the palace.

Dave waited for a new wave of demons to arrive at the gate. Hearing activity outside the walls, Dave ran up the stairs leading to the courtyard walls. He shot spectral skulls at the demons hammering at the gate.

There were only six demons in this wave, so Dave jumped between them and started another slugfest. Without the buffs, the fight was grueling, he was at 10% HP when he finally killed the last one.

Dave teleported back inside the courtyard and threw back another health potion. He pointed at the blackened area of ground where the undead king fell.

"Dog, stand there and be ready to revive the king as soon as you can use your Skill. Grumps, the gate is going to come down soon, we need to hold them here."

The basilisk moved to stand in front of the gate and growled.

The demons kept bashing at the gate until it finally gave in. The steel gate fell into the courtyard with a thump and a cloud of dust, revealing the dozens of demon attackers.

Dog stayed near the king's resting place but sent his basilisk to help them. The basilisks charged the demons together and Dave followed behind them. The two lizards were great in tanking many demons at once. This gave Dave enough time to dish out explosive damage.

Dave swapped tanking with the two basilisks constantly, distributing the damage between them the three of them.

Time dragged by as they fought to hold the gate. They soon faced even more than the original numbers of attackers, demons kept streaming in from the street, swelling the ranks.

Dave's struggled keeping his HP at a moderate level with potions and his passive. Unlike Dave, the basilisks couldn't heal, their HP were dropping rapidly.

One minute left for Dog's skill.

Dog's basilisk was in critical condition, Dave ordered the beast to the back. Grumpy and Dave fought on.

Thirty seconds left for Dog's skill.

Dave signaled Grumpy to retreat, he was fighting alone now. He killed another demon, then two more, but it didn't matter, they just kept coming.

***

You have 1% HP remaining!

You are in critical condition!

Passive skill [Unyielding] has been triggered. You are immune to death for five (5) seconds!

***

Dave blasted demons away with spectral skulls as he started retreating, then he used [Vertical Slash], to backflip away.

Dave's passive skill [Vigorous] kicked in, restoring some of his HP.

"Kis'Shtiengbrah, it's TIME!" Samael roared from the palace stairs.

"Dog! Magic-time!"

Dog thrust his club into the ground.

***

Your follower Dog (dullahan, undead captain) used [Raise Undead]!

The Undead King, monarch ranked undead, has been revived from the dead!

Death Heart [Undead King] revival condition has been met!

***

A pulsing dark aura preceded the figure that rose smoothly from the blackened rubble, the shroud grew until it filled the courtyard and the king finally stood again, looking down at the draugr and dullahan before him.

Dave's was smiling in welcome, but his expression froze when he saw the tag above the Undead King's head. The information was displayed in screaming-red text.

EXTRA:

[Double Edged]

A whistle is the summoning call for a Minhocao from deep underground.

Duration: 5 seconds.

Cooldown: 20 minutes.

The deep-earth dwelling Minhocao is hostile to the Summoner and the Summoner's allies as well as his enemies. The Minhocao attacks from underground, engulfing a circular area with a radius of 20 meters in a single bite, then the Minhocao returns to the depths.

Damage:100,000 flat damage + 50% basic weapon damage to each object and individual within the affected area.

[Special Effect]: the Minghocao spews an acidic bile that melts flesh and metal, weakening armor and weapons durability and causing 5,000 points of flat damage over five (5) seconds.

Lore:

The Minhocaos are destructive, universally hostile creatures. They are rumored to be the ultimate and final evolution of a 10,000 year old earthworms.

Lore Addendum:

This particular Minhocao defeated and consumed a Chaos Centipede, a highly evolved creature from a different monarchical lineage of deep-earth dwellers. Consequently the Worm King has defied the limitations of gods and nature and evolved into an Emperor Worm.