Within the darkness inside Marik's gullet, Dave could feel nothing, see nothing and hear nothing. It was as if he was extracted from his senses, a feeling of emptiness and dread that pervaded him and left him completely vulnerable to the unending darkness inside the Abyssal Knight's stomach.
Soon after, the light came back, and Dave found himself floating in front of the Undead King.
His eyes wandered to his hands which were blue and transparent. His non-physical body was not that of an Undead but looked identical to his other avatar, Death Stroke.
\"Childe, We'd prefer not to meet you in this form, but there are grave matters at hand.\" The Undead King started the conversation with a tone of urgency rarely heard coming from him.
Dave frowned. According to Dortha the Undead King had a reward for him, yet the moment he came to meet him the other seemed to be facing a problematic encounter.
\"I am at your command, Your Majesty\" Dave replied.
\"Good, then listen well. The living have been given the chance to deal with the Ash King. In their pursuit of might and their greed for power, they shall band against Us. We task you to weaken these attempts. Slay whoever willingly agree with the Ash King!\"
Dave's frown turned even worse: \"Your Majesty, with all due respect, that will be impossible.\"
\"We are surprised to hear this coming from you, Childe. We have heard about your exploits and seen them, too. Many times you've accomplished the 'Impossible' and turned it simple.\" The Undead King calmly stated.
Dave sighed. He was happy about the praise, but unfortunately, this gargantuan task was different from the ones he had received in the past.
\"I wish, I could tell you otherwise, but you're asking me to stand alone against the world. Everyone will want to band with the Demons. The Ash King is offering nothing but benefits for them. If you allow me to be frank for a moment, were I in the shoes of those adventurers I would certainly be tempted to take the deal. To their kind, they don't care much for sides, as long as they think they have enough to gain from doing so, they will. Some might even root for the Ash King as we have conquered so much of his regions, that he is now like the 'underdog' in our war. But most importantly siding with him will allow them to access the Underworld… If I were to stand between the players and their upgrade, I will be the world's enemy. I cannot fight all of them, probably not even with the entire Undead Legion. Just like us they can come back from death. No matter how strong or how lucky I can be… it's impossible.\"
\"What you say sounds reasonable. It might not be possible to keep them down forever, but then what about this?\" the Undead King pulled out four spherical orbs.
He then threw them at Dave and they disappeared within his body landing in his inventory.
Dave recognized those spheres, they looked awfully similar to Dungeon Cores.
\"You want me to put the Demonic Temples under Dungeon rules?\" Dave concluded.
\"Indeed. While we currently lack the means to convert or erase those temples, we can at least postpone it and make it as hard for the Ash King to gain followers as possible. Your task will be to turn them into Dungeons that make the living wish for death before they can obtain the benefits the Ash King promised them.\"
\"I should be able to do that. Still, I'll need to be there to do so. For now, I'm stuck in the Drow Kingdom. Not to mention I don't even know where to start looking for them.\" Dave lamented.
The last fact would probably not be too hard to find out. Once anybody finds one of the temples, it should just be a question of time before the information about the location gets leaked. Though maybe Mr. Skeletal should use his fame to offer some benefits to get the information before anyone else…
\"We are aware of all this, but worry not. We shall aid you in finding their locations. For now, the living are too occupied with killing each other.\"
\"I know, and what sucks is that they're keeping me out of the fun. There's a guild of players that I believe are trying to attack the East. They want to use their Right of Conquest for the Qin Kingdom before I have a chance to take over.\"
\"It has come to Our understanding as well. Your Death Knight, the one you named Bud, has given Us his say on the matter in the East. They have installed a gateway to teleport their troops to the borders of the Qin Kingdom. Benefiting from your efforts of weakening their defenses for themselves.\"
The Undead King slammed his fist down on the throne's handle giving Dave a jumpscare.
He then stood up and spoke calmly, \"We won't allow them to succeed. It was OUR DECREE!\" the Undead King roared loud enough that the palace shook. Not even Dave understood what made the Undead King this angry.
\"IT WAS OUR DECISION! OUR OPPORTUNITY TO GRANT. IT WAS OUR TASK TO OUR CHILDE! OUR WILL! OUR BENEVOLENCE FOR OUR CHILDE TO PROVE THEMSELVES!\"
The palace kept shaking, and the mere ripples from the Undead King's voice made Dave's ethereal avatar shake and shudder threatening to dissipate.
\"And now,\" the Undead King's tone calmed down, but Dave could almost swear that it became even scarier, \"They want to take it from Our Childe? If they have, it would mean We lied to Our Childe! And We do not LIE! Marik! Lilith! Before Us!\"
Suddenly two silhouettes almost the same size as Dave appeared right next to them.
Dave recognized Marik, although this time, the 'sack of potatoes' was much smaller, as for the second one, she was a person Dave had never seen before. A woman with a skin as white as ceramic.
Her hair was tied neatly in a bun and she had a small hat on top of her head. She wore a long red Victorian dress that reached all the way to the ground. Her lips were thin and small, yet colored blood red and her eyes were a color to match.
Dave didn't even need to second guess this creature's identity, as the moment he noticed the long fangs he muttered, \"A vampire.\"
\"Indeed I am, young one\" the woman gave a low laugh and turned to the Undead King.
\"Your Majesty, we are at your service,\" Lilith spoke.
\"You know the matters at hand,\" the Undead King said. \"Act as you see fit, aid Our Childe in balancing the scales.\" The Undead King waved his hands.
\"As you command,\" the vampire bowed and disappeared from the palace.
\"Your Majesty, if I act…\" the Soul Gorger spoke and stopped halfway.
\"I know the risks, Marik. If worse comes to worst, I shall act.\"
\"Then so be it, I shall move my army.\"
\"Go,\" the Undead King dismissed the two leaving Dave alone.
\"If I didn't know any better, I'd say you're spoiling me,\" Dave had a small smirk on his face.
If anyone could see him now… well they would see him eventually. Dave wasn't stupid enough to send over the coverage of what had happened anytime soon. But this was too good not to share with the world in the future. Anyone who would look at this scene would get goosebumps.
\"It is in Our nature to come to the aid of Our own. And We despise those who attempted to benefit from your hard work. We shall not stand idle while others harvest what Our Childe worked hard into planting. The time has come to show the world the real might of the Undead. Now that you have met all of my Abyssal Knights, it is time for you to work to obtain your rank among them.\" The Undead King explained. Was it just Dave's imagination or did the Undead King just show off a hint of pride when talking about Dave joining their ranks?
\"Oh, so that Lilith gal was an Abyssal Knight.\"
\"Gal? She is thousands of years old. But yes, she is the Duchess of Blood and Carnage. A frightening opponent to those who have blood running down their veins.\"
\"I doubt I'll ever need to act on my own with the two of them with me. They could conquer Qin on their own, I'll only be a decoration.\" Dave shrugged.
\"No, Childe. It is in the nature of a leader to lead powerful units. Even if you don't ride with them at the front, just by being part of the army, by being it's general, the victory still shall be yours for your leadership. We want you to tear the living apart. We want you to destroy them so thoroughly, that they will never dare harbor another thought rising against you. This shall be your first time waging a war against the race of living. We want you to break them! Destroy them! Make them kneel and beg for mercy that shan't come to them! CRUSH ANY WHO STAND IN YOUR WAY!!!\"
Dave shuddered and immediately bowed down on instinct before the mighty Ruler of the Dead, \"As you wish.\"
And just before he disappeared from the throne room the Undead King spoke one last line.
\"This is Our gift to you Childe, use it well.\"
Suddenly Dave felt himself back in his body. As he was laying down, Dortha came and nudged him up.
\"Have you successfully met with His Majesty?\"
\"Yes, it was quite…thrilling.\"
\"Good. Now, what are you going to do?\" Dortha asked.
\"I have an idea for the next fight, but I need to prepare first. Tiny come out,\" Dave called out to the Grave Lord.
The creature was no longer suppressed by the negative effect of the Drow Kingdom. He could appear wherever Dave summoned him.
\"Take me up,\" Dave told his pet.
\"Where are you going?\" Dortha asked.
\"I found a wide river the last time I took flight here. It should lead to the sea. If my luck holds up I should find exactly the thing I am missing there,\" Dave answered.
The Grave Lord transformed into an eastern dragon and took Dave alongside Dortha high up.
\"There,\" Dave pointed in a direction and the dragon obeyed, heading toward the river.
The river was massive, and it was raging. All in good conditions for Dave's following task.
Once Tiny came down, Dave hopped off and summoned the Sea God, the Kraken.
The great creature emerged from under the river water. Crusting the river to ripples and making its raging nature as stable as a mirror surface.
\"Kraky, I'll need to ask you for a small favor.\"
Dave gave the Kraken a set of orders and the creature immediately went to work, diving under the river water and swam in the direction of the sea.
Dave stomped his foot on the ground, summoning Singund and the Tengu. They both bowed to Dortha who waved off their gesture and then looked at Dave waiting for further instructions.
\"Tengu, I need you to return to the Dead Realm. Tell Andre to ready the forge.\"
The Tengu frowned but didn't question Dave's orders. He disappeared soon after.
Dave turned to the second Death Knight and spoke.
\"Singund, I need you to go back to the Dead Realm, and tell Gafgar that I will need my fleet to be ready to set sail as soon as my being trapped here ends.\"
\"As you order.\" Singund nodded and disappeared back to the Dead Realm.
\"Fleet? What are you planning?\" Dortha asked intrigued.
\"Simple, I'm planning a naval war.\"
\"Wouldn't it be better if you raid the East from the land?\"
\"Nah, the land area will already be packed full of Devastators once I get out. They are taking advantage of my effort in weakening the Qin forces to try and finish them off. We'll do the same, make them weaken the Qin for us, then we'll hunt everything at once.\"
\"I can't say that I don't admire your plan. I would love to see for myself how you handle it,\" Dortha sighed.
\"Then come with me,\" Dave asked.
\"I would love to, but this area is the closest to the Ash King. With His Majesty's still recuperating from being revived, I am the strongest entity that could face him. If I leave my post we could lose the Drow Kingdom.\"
\"Ah, with great powers, comes great responsibility,\" Dave said.
\"Wise words,\" Dortha replied.
\"Alright then, I still have six hours left. Let's hope Kraky over there can find me some Hydras.\"
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