A blinding strobe of red light and a deafening blast shattered the first of the eight chains holding the boss captive. Drahma roared in primordial triumph as the steel links fell away, his aggression ratcheting even higher.
The explosion did not damage any of the guild players, but it did sow fear and confusion among them. Teamwork and discipline were forgotten, panicky questions and wild speculation flooded the battle-chat.
Dave cast Spectral Bomb as soon as the cooldown timer zeroed, soon he would detonate the skulls on the next chain.
The players all assumed the skulls were a new boss-skill or the result of some unfamiliar game mechanic. No one thought to look outside the fight-zone for other enemies. Truthfully, no one could blame them because there was no precedent for and no evident reason to consider it. Especially since Dave only launched the skulls at the chains when no one was looking in his direction.
Snapping his fingers again, Dave triggered the next set of bombs.
With another flash of red light, the resulting explosion turned the second chain into twisted scrap metal.
Unfortunately, this time the group's tank, Xiao Gui, was close enough to be damaged by the skulls. The force of the blast staggered him, throwing him back as debuff warnings flashed in his HUD. Recovering, he gaped at his blinking mini-map, a flashing red star showing the location of a new enemy!
When a player is damaged by an attacker, the game system marks the attacking mob or player on the mini-map. There are exceptions to the mechanic, for instance when attackers are stealthed or if they are too far outside the player's aggro range.
"Shit! There's another mob outside the room!" the tank yelled.
Dave immediately turned to the back wall of the anteroom and put some distance between himself and the doorway in preparation of the inevitable retaliation.
The players knew the attacker was a mob, because if a player, or players, had dared to attack and damage them the attackers would also be tagged as 'Aggressors' on their HUDs.
Of course, they didn't know undead-Dave caused an 'exception' in the processes which the system handled by assigning his character a mob designation that used mob-appropriate protocols instead of player avatar protocols for his avatar-environment interactions. Meaning undead-Dave didn't show on the players HUDs as an aggressor, just an aggroing mob.
If they had paid more attention to current game-events or studied their own guild briefs and action-updates, which they were required to do according to guild contract rules, they might have realized there were other, more dangerous, possibilities.
But there's a war going on, man! Levels had to be advanced and, of course, loot taken, no one has time for all that, ya know?
With that bit of group-think and a lot ignorance they blithely carried on.
"Damn it, someone kill that thing! Bardiche, GO!" roared Sublime Spirit. He was not happy to be sending the Sword Master, half his damage-dealing team, away from the boss fight to chase what was probably a trash level mob. Especially when the boss they were fighting had just suddenly and inexplicably grown much more dangerous.
With two of his binding chains destroyed, Drahma had grown more powerful indeed. He'd gotten boosts to his Vitality and Strength and his attacks now had almost twice the original damage potential.
Adding to the players' consternation, the boss's vitality increase filled the newly expanded health bar past the 50% mark. Even worse for them, despite his HP rising above the critical 50% mark the boss was still under the Rampage status effect, which in comparison makes a Berserker's Rage seem like a gentle caress.
"Shit! This fight is way harder than it's supposed to be!" Yu Fuyuan cried out. He was having a much harder time keeping the party healed with the boss's increased damage numbers and all around boost in power. Xiao Gui, was taking more damage than his tank Skills could attenuate or redistribute, and even the mighty Sublime Spirit was being worn down and pushed back.
But his greatest concern wasn't the health levels of the party. Keeping the party in good functional Health is what a good healer is supposed to do of course. But doing this much healing in such a short time period was pushing his aggro value higher. At this rate he would become a priority threat. A really, really bad thing for a healer to be in a boss-fight.
"Slow down on the heals!" yelled Sublime Spirit. He was an experienced leader, the danger to the healer was not lost on him.
"If I slow down, you're all gonna die!" replied Yu Fuyuan, frantically trying to think of a way to lower his aggro value.
A cleansing potion would solve the problem, if he had one. He didn't. They were bloody expensive. He knew before coming to this dungeon that the tank's aggro-pulling skills along with Sublime Spirit's insane damage output meant he would never even get close to the top of the boss's threat priority table.
He cursed, so much for what he 'knew,' hindsight is a cruel b...female dog. Oh, how he wished he'd spent the gold on one of those damn potions instead of that very memorable, and enjoyable, weekend in the capital's red-light district.
Bardiche sprinted for the anteroom where the attacking mob was located according to his mini-map. He needed to kill this pop-up mob quick, before it became more of a distraction, or worse did something that, somehow, increased the difficulty of the boss-fight again.
As he moved away from the great doorway Dave had looked back and seen the Sword Master coming toward the entranceway, he smiled his grim draugr smile. A single level 89 character of any class was hardly cause for Dave to panic or even worry.
The party leader broke a cardinal adventuring rule when he "split the party" and sent the damager to hunt Dave. They probably all thought he was just some random singleton mob. These guild-boyz were going to pay a price for their mistakes.
Dave ordered his undead into motion, arranging them so the incoming 'guest' would receive the worst possible kind of surprise party. He positioned two ghouls as their frontline tanks. The archers and casters behind the tanks and offset to either side so they had clear lines of fire to loose their spells and arrows at the enemy. The third ghoul and the skeleton covered the flanks, they were his reaction force.
The Sword Master burst into the anteroom through the open double doorway. He was moving so fast he was halfway across the room before his mind processed the fact that he was running directly at an enemy battle-formation. When he finally reacted, it was like a scene from an old animated cartoon. His legs churned against the floor, frantically trying to reverse his momentum, his arms windmilling wildly to keep himself upright. Utter shock was on his face, his mouth literally open in a startled 'O' and his wide eyes revealing his inner dread, the knowledge of his inevitable failure.
By then, Dave was laughing so hysterically at the player's he almost missed his own order-of-attack. He recovered just in time to activate [Destructive Smash] and attack the desperately backpedaling Sword Master, immobilizing him with the stun effect.
Dave's ranged undead immediately started hosing the stunned player down with arrows and spell-bolts as Dave struck again using a basic attack empowered with [Twin Strike]. The colored bar over the player's head disintegrated, his HP reaching zero in less than a heartbeat.
Dave knew the guild players would be notified immediately about the Sword Master's death, it was one of the most important functions of the HUD party-interface.
He had to act quickly if he was going to take advantage of the situation. Dave rapidly weighed the odds and considered alternatives. He started pacing and almost bumped into one of his undead, a ghoul. Face to face with the expressionless ghoul an inexplicable urge to talk to someone came over him.
Dave wasn't a 'chatty' guy. He had no desire to tell people his 'problems,' much less listen to theirs. So, he was surprised helpful talking things out with someone, or something was. Still thinking about his current situation he bounced ideas off the friendly stiff, who listened with endless patience... Really, he just shared a couple favorite words-of-wisdom with the revenant. "No risk, no reward. Go big or just go away. Good talk, bud."
Knowing he had to take a shot at the big chance, Dave gathered Bud, the newly christened ghoul, and the rest of his undead minions around him in formation, then charged into the boss room.
His plan wasn't to fight the guild party, that way led to certain suicide. No, there were far too many things Dave still had to do before he could allow the bearded draugr's story to end.
His intent was to disrupt and delay, playing for time.
The appearance of almost a dozen undead charging in formation created a hush on the battle-chat, the players minds simply blanked. But they quickly recovered and inspected the group by habit.
Hmph. Thefe were just some low-level undead trash, they couldn't be the enemy that sent Bardiche to respawn...could they?
Things had certainly gotten hinky on this dive, this was supposed to be an explored dungeon. First a single mob pops up just as the boss mob starts going weirdly off-script. Then the Sword Master sent after the stray mob gets killed off and no one is sure how.
Now, a group of lowbie undead was charging at them in the middle of the boss fight.
None of it made sense, even if lower mobs were capable of moving about this freely, much less enter the boss room. The party had cleared the dungeon, there shouldn't be any mobs left, let along groups ranging out and into the boss room to attack players.
Sublime knew the undead weren't very dangerous. But his party was frazzled by all the weird and unexpected stuff going on. They needed to concentrate on the real danger, the boss.
"It's just a group of low-level undead, I'll take them out quick. Just hold-off the boss for a few seconds!" Sublime Spirit shouted encouragingly as he rushed at the newly arrived undead mobs.
Most of his party weren't experienced players let alone veteran guild members. Truthfully, most of the group were barely past newbie status, power-levelled to bulk up the guild-roster because of the war.
That wastrel, Yu Fuyuan, was the exception, though his levels had long suffered for his vices. Yu Fuyuan was tolerated in the guild because he was a competent healer. He was a veteran player before Sublime ever entered the game, and, according to which rumors one listened to, he was a beta-tester, or a founding member of the guild, or both. Despite that, the only bright thing in the Priest's future were the red-lights of a certain district in the capital.
Dave ignored the Berserker and summoned another skull, intent on blowing up another chain and ultimately, freeing Drahma to complete his quest.
Dave sincerely hoped once the quest was done there would be no need for him to fight anyone directly, and more importantly no need for him to risk himself against a group of higher level players.
Dave's undead archers kited Sublime Spirit, while the longer ranged casters slowed him with spell-bolt attacks.
More skulls exploded, and another chain dropped from the boss, and his HP rose to 70%.
It was a mistake on Sublime Spirit's part to leave the main fight to go after the new mobs. Without the DPS damage from the Berserker, Yu Fuyuan's healing was rocketing the Priest up the threat list. When his threat value passed the tank's, breaking the cardinal rule "never OT the tank," the healer became an 'Over Threat' to the boss, and the number-one priority target.
It only took a moment for the boss's full wrath to find the poor venial Priest. His fate was the final solution to the dilemma of being 'caught between a hard floor and a falling-iron-column.' The only remains were a cloud of glowing motes spiraling up toward the heavens, and an unpleasant splotch on the floor.
The suddenness of the Priest's death dismayed the entire party, especially Sublime Spirit. He knew better than the others it almost guaranteed the party's end. 'Protect your healer' was rule #1. Breaking it...well, the Priest's grisly end was not a good omen.
Dave snapped his fingers yet again. The skulls answered with another ground-rumbling blast and blinding flash of red light, and the fourth chain became smoking metal wreckage.
There were only four chains holding the boss now, and his HP bar was at 100%.
Drahma howled like a wolf baying at the moon. Although he was back to full health, and more powerful than ever, the monster was sinking further and further into the depths of his insanity and rage. He became less intelligent and more bestial and savage as each chain was destroyed.
The remaining chains were barely holding back his frenzied lunges at the players. The boss's still limited reach had been the only thing saving them from its overpowered attributes and abilities until now. That wasn't going to last.
Sublime Spirit cursed profanely and at great lengths. There was no denying it at this juncture. The mission was a failure, and his party was going to be wiped.
Angry and frustrated, Sublime Spirit turned to get a better look at the undead mobs. He finally spotted the 'Leader' mixed in with the casters.
He was an inconspicuous creature despite having, of all the ridiculous things, an incongruous chin beard that he stroked unselfconsciously. The damned draugr was smiling at him. Scorning him. Mocking HIM, Sublime Spirit!
Another red-flashing blast destroyed another chain and staggered Sublime Spirit. A demonic roar followed the explosion, and Sublime Spirit saw a portrait on his party-interface HUD turn gray, a beat later the ground shook again and another portrait blanked to gray, followed almost immediately by the final one with the pro forma tremor and chilling howl.
That smile continued to haunt him, he had seen it before, but just couldn't remember where.
Tragically, Sublime Spirit was breaking a cardinal rule in life, both virtual and real: "don't get distracted by hipster-draugrs with chin-beards, keep your eyes on the main prize, dumbass."
Dave saw Drahma turn the harrying players into gory paste with his iron pole 'fly-swatter,' boom, boom, boom, all in less than a minute.
He gave the Berserker a final 'no-hard-feelings' smirk as the iron pole appeared above, the capped end whistling in an arc toward Sublime's head. Wider than the Berserker's shoulders, it struck his helmeted head and continued unimpeded until the arc ended with a booming-tremor on the stone floor.
[-85 321]! Instant Kill! Dave sternly reminded his jaw to stay in the closed and upright position.
A cloud of twinkling lights, formerly a level 120 Berserker, floated up from under the end of the pole. Now it was only Dave's undead-dozen in the room. With an enraged, maybe insane, power-improved boss.
Three chains still shackled the boss's limbs, and his Rampage-state was still in effect.
Drahma roared and screamed as if someone was putting a blow torch to his soul. It was a terrifying sight that Dave would never forget, as madness and demonic ferocity washed across the boss's face in waves..
The nametag over Drahma's head was highlighted a friendly green. But, his mind was clearly not all 'there.'
Dave needed to test the waters, he ordered one of his ghouls -not Bud, Bud was cool- to move in closer to the boss. The ghoul obeyed without any fuss, and moved in closer to the boss without a care in the world.
The moment the ghoul set a foot in Drahma's aggro zone, the boss swung like a golfer going for the green, pulverising the ghoul and launching its remains across the room to splatter against the wall.
Dave swallowed, grateful for his paranoi...caution. Even if its tag was green, it was still a boss, and it was strong as heck.
He opened his quest log and looked at 'A Call for Help,' it was not marked 'complete,' and there was no updated information. "Hmm, 'Give succor to your undead kin'…that could mean anything." If Dave released the boss now, as he was, God only knew what the insane thing would do.
"Drahma!" shouted Dave.
The boss froze momentarily at the sound of his name, then resumed smashing his weapon into the floor and roaring at the ceiling, making the structure tremble.
Breaking five of the eight chains that imprisoned him only enraged Drahma further instead of inspiring him with hope and determination to finish the job.
Dave was offended. He'd worked hard to help out his undead brother, getting rid of the chains, or at least starting the process, and preventing the guild party from killing him and sending him off to respawn. All he got in return was a big temper tantrum, a giant hissy fit. He couldn't even put that on a t-shirt.
Dave decided enough was enough. Checking his metaphorical belt and adjusting it, he strode confidently toward the boss, stopping at the point midway to the boss's aggro zone.
"Drahma! I Serve the Undead King! Attacking my subordinates is the same as insulting his majesty!" roared Dave. Dave was taking liberties, but, it could be that way for real...one day.
"MY KING! ALL FOR MY KING!" roared Drahma. He blinked in confusion, and the madness in his blood-red eyes receded. But he was still angry.
"I DID AS I WAS ORDERED TO! NONE CAME TO MY AID! WHY?!" he cried out. Despair replacing his anger and he crashed to his knees.
Drahma began gasping in pain and unconsolable loss, hand grasping at the hole in his chest..
"Ah, it was so long ago that they took my heart! They couldn't break my spirit. I went mad, but now I can see again. You!" said the giant. "You serve the king!" it was as much question as statement.
"I do. And you Drahma, who do you serve?" asked Dave looking directly up into the giant's eyes.
"I serve his majesty…the chains, please remove them…I am strong, but strength alone cannot unshackle me from these abominations."
He moved his arms toward Dave, as if to present the offending chains that wrapped around them
"That, I can do for you, Drahma." said Dave. He ordered his caster minions to remove the chains.
Each time a chain came off a burst of power erupted in a halo around Drahma. More of his missing original strength flowed back into him, the madness and bestial savagery receded farther, his mind becoming clear and taking back control from his beast-nature.
When the final chain was removed, the giant straightened growing in power and stature as if an oppressive burden was removed. He looked down at the tiny draugr for long moments.
Dave looked right back at the boss, meeting his lambent red eyes.
Dave was not comfortable with direct eye contact in any situation, but he knew this was important somehow, so he used 'Inspect' on Drahma as a distraction from his anxiety.
He smiled, his prediction came true.
Name:Drahma the Berserker
Rank (Doom Knight)
Drahma was one of the most powerful individual units in the Undead King's Legion. He was under the direct command of Dalga the [Abyssal Knight].
After the Undead King disappeared, Drahma was captured by the Black Skull's, a fallen order. He suffered for many years, tormented and experimented on.Ultimately, he succumbed to his beast-nature went mad when his heart was removed. The Undead King's Blessing kept him alive but in constant torment. The rage that built over the years madness and unchecked rage granted him a Power:
Even if I Fall into madness, I shall take you with me.
"I need to find my king… You. I shall remember you, draugr. You gave me freedom from the chains, and this place. You have my eternal thanks.
I will mention your name to my superior. Here, take this" said Drahma making a grasping motion. A jewel appeared in front of Dave"
Dave took it in his hand and examined the faceted stone, glowing a cold-blue. His eyes widened.
Anti-Bully Bauble (Monster-type)
Summons Drahma to help against attackers.
Bound to Death Stroke.
Only usable by Death Stroke when Undead.
"This is a small token. When you are in dire need, use it, and I shall come to you. This is only right, as you came to my aid while I was in the darkest despair."
Hidden Quest completed!
A call for Help!
You have chosen to help Drahma even against the odds of powerful enemies.
+1500 contribution points
You have freed a servant of the Undead King from the Leach Seals placed on him by the wretched order of the Black Skull
You have gained 500,000 XP
"This is all I have to give now. But when you return to the Lands of the Undead speak to any shopkeeper. I will make arrangements with them for you. Now, I have a request."
"If, by some chance, you discover the location of the Black Skull order, or find my missing heart, summon me with the jewel. Even if you have already used it three times, it will still beckon to me when it is close to my heart."
You have been tasked by Drahma to look for the remnants of the Black Skull Order. They are a scourge upon the land, a vile and wretched faction that enslaved many undead torturing them and performing their heinous experiments on them in pursuit of the undead's hidden source of immortality. Even though they are of the undead, the Undead King has deemed them unworthy of the Peace of the Undead and excommunicated them, and marked them to be killed on sight.
Dave accepted the quest, and looked back up at the giant. The giant looked back at him nodded, and smiled, then he disappeared.
Dave sighed. That was that. Another day, another Undead bigwig.
He wandered around the room, searching for for loot and anything else that might be useful.
He didn't find much, but in the very center of the circle of broken chains was a small, glowing metallic sphere.
Dungeon core (Special item)
This core is linked to a Dungeon. It grants control of the Dungeon to the holder. It can be used to modify the dungeon structure or its spawns.
[Special] It can be used to change the Status of the Dungeon to [Corrupted] .
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