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164 Thunder

 "What the hell! Why did I die again?!"

Having accepted a daily quest at the Lancaster Hideout and running off to cull the swamp fishmen who were making a comeback, Marni was inadvertently stabbed by a fishman with a dagger dipped full of poison-before he could heal up, his vision went dark and he lost all senses.

When he realized that he died from the fishman's spine poison, he quickly asked for help on the forums.

Be that as it may, the Cleric Players were too late-the effective resurrection period had passed, Marni's corpse had disappeared and he had to suffer three whole days to be revived.

With how close the gap between Player levels were, no one understood more than Marni what being dead for three days meant-he would have to spend a lot more time and work harder to make up for the lost EXP in that period.

Even without a body, Marni could feel vague aching near his liver once he imagined the lifestyle where night and day was reversed.

As a matter of fact, Marni had often maintained that lifestyle but never died from overwork, most likely because the body would be at peak health after reviving...

It even made Marni thinking that he should leave the ranks of the top players and stay as a backup...

Be that as it may, whenever he thought about the start of events, the adventures only top players could immediately enjoy, along with the ability to more precisely control market prices, Marni dumped that idea and decided to keep working hard on daily quests and put his liver to good use.

Maybe the great God of Games would be moved by his tireless spirit.

"That said, am I supposed to just stroll around the forums for another three days?"

Though it sounded as if Marni was complaining, he wasn't actually upset about all that-being the unmatched champion in numbers of deaths, Marni knew better than anyone the suffering of being locked in the black hut for up to three days, unable to move, speak or even feel the flow of time before the Players' forum was created.

In comparison, it was much better now that he could talk to others with the forum.

However, after browsing through several posts casually, Marni suddenly noticed that several Players were discussing something unusual.

"Game? What game? The God of Games is actually making games?"

It was only after he had asked them what was happening that he noticed a 'next page' button on the corner of his forum page.

Selecting it brought him to a new, never-before-seen page.

If the text above the page was anything to go with, it had a weird name too: Steam.

It was also blank aside from three weird icons: the first was named Thunder, the second Tierra Blocks and the third the Great Revolt (a card game resembling Fight the Landlord).

Marni selected Raiden, and a smaller panel appeared while playing some simple animation and background music.

Nonetheless, Marni understood the gameplay after checking it out.

The Player would assume the role of a rider mounting a Thunder Griffin which keeps flying forward while being attacked by enemy griffin riders, as well as the offensive spells unleashed by various cultists or totems from the ground.

Points were awarded for defeating any variety of enemies, and the enemies would also drop different magic scrolls, which the players could obtain by steer their griffin towards it to learn various attack skills.

Still, Marni was confused: why would the griffin immediately forget the skill before after learning a new one? Is the creature that dumb?

After playing for a while, the griffin Marni was controlling was shot down as up to eight other griffins ganged up on it.

Marni was quite satisfied and was about to try the other two games when he noticed a countdown timer for continuing.

"Spend game coins to keep playing? Nah, ten thousand and eighty-six feels like a high score."

However, the leaderboard of the top-scoring players appeared after he closed the continue panel.

Someone named Vulcan was the top scorer at the moment at a hundred and fourteen thousand, five hundred and fourteen points!

Gaping at the leaderboard, Marni found that he was only ranked below fifty-and there were just around sixty Players who had played the game so far.

"Tch. I'm that far away from first place? Hold on, there's a note here..."

Marni discovered from the note beside the leaderboard then that the God of Games would also reward players ranking within the top hundred, and that the rewards get better the higher their ranking.

After blanking out for three seconds, Marni determinedly chose to play again, only for the system to display a message: Free try used. Please insert coin to play.

"That scared me. So, this only cost ten game coins? So cheap!"

10 game coins wasn't too much money even for new Players, and certainly not for Marni, rich and generous as he was. Hence, he started a new game without hesitation.

Still, his luck was poorer this time-he ended up dead with a score of 9,527.

"Continue with ten game coins? Let's go!"

He did not last long, however. Caught dazed by concentrated fire, he panicked, darting around and ended up shot down once again.

"Second continue for a hundred game coins? This is robbery!" Marni could not help cursing. "Let's go!"

And yet, he didn't survive too long on his third attempt either.

"Third continue for a thousand game coins? I could strengthen an item up to plus three!" Marni was about to curse the underhanded business there, but quickly stopped short when he remembered that each game was created by the God of Games himself.

"Let's go!" He seethed.

Marni eventually stopped at 20,000 points when he realized that there wasn't a fourth continue. Admittedly, he could only surrender given how he had died three times straight.

"Well, I should at least make the top thirty." Pleased with himself, he turned to the leaderboard to find that he had dropped another sixty places, whereas the rankings numbered up to a hundred and fifty players.

It appears that more Players had noticed the game page, along with the note of the God of Games' rewards.

His reward was going to disappear if this continues!

Marni steeled himself right then. "I'm dead anyway. Want to take my place? Keep trying!"

He inserted another 10 game coins into Thunder.

Go, Thunder!