"Oi! Aww, aww, EASY!!!!" Dave was beat red and visibly in dire pain.
"You gotta pull through man. Keep going!" Desmond encouraged him in a calm manner.
"That's easy for you to say. I'll break in half this way, bro!" Dave complained through gritted teeth.
"Believe me the human body can endure far worse than this. Just follow my instructions and keep going," Desmond argued while slowly pushing down on Dave's shoulders while the latter was in the midst of doing a split.
After a while, Dave heard a small snap and felt like fainting. He gasped as he looked upon his trainer/torturer: "What the hell was that? Please tell me, that wasn't the sound of the royal jewels, because it certainly does feel like it."
"That would literally be impossible since you have no bones there. At most, they could rupture" Dave was feeling himself one step closer to fainting at imagining that… Fortunately, after Desmond had enjoyed his sadistic second of silenced fun, he continued. "That was just your hip cracking. All the stretching beforehand has warmed you up, but your body isn't used to performing like this. It shouldn't be so bad in the future. Anyway, stay in that form for a few more minutes, then we'll keep going."
"You don't have to worry about me leaving," Dave looked at his legs that were doing an amazingly good yet painful split, "I think I'm stuck."
Desmond laughed off Dave's joke and went to fetch something.
A few moments went by, where many of the people in the gym were smiling at Dave's misfortune. Soon enough, Desmond came back with some ropes. He tied Dave's legs to his and hands to his then sat back to back.
"Hey, I remember this from an old movie bro. You're not gonna start Wax on wax AWWWW," Dave's cultural comment was cut abruptly as Desmond pulled his own legs apart forcing Dave's already split legs to stretch further. The training continued, while Dave's misery kept increasing, the only succor he had was Desmond assuring him that he was doing a great job and that if he kept it up he would start showing improvement in no time.
After a couple of hours of grueling torment, Dave didn't even feel like walking. The pain coming from his thighs, chest, and forearms was unbearable.
"I've made a reservation for you in two days, same time as today. If you need to change it talk to Tanya, our receptionists or give her a call by the end of tomorrow. Right now go upstairs, I had Rick prepare an ice bath for you."
"Ice bath? I'd be better off with a regular warm shower man," Dave complained weakly. He had learned that with Desmond resistance was futile.
"As your trainer, I can't recommend you do that. A cold or ice bath will help fight off cramps unless you look forward to being in a world of pain tomorrow."
Dave nodded after hearing that. He recalled that as a former football player Ralph used to have ice baths after exercising or after a match.
"Are you planning to show me some moves next time?" Dave asked while rubbing his grumbling stomach.
"To learn the moves, you need the form. And to get a better form I recommend you get something protein-heavy to eat after our workout. Alternatively, we also offer protein shakes here. Be patient, we have a lot of time on our hands. Even Mr. Skeletal had to work his way up, before getting where he is today." Desmond comforted him. "Now up you go. I'll have a taxi waiting for you to take you home once you're done. By the way, speaking of my favorite Undead, when is your next Clash of Gods fight?"
"Tomorrow, it should have been yesterday but because of the raid on the East and my Sovereign Status I got skipped over."
"Well, I wish you luck. See you next time."
"See ya bro," Dave fist-bumped Desmond and went upstairs for his bath.
The experience was rather… teeth clattering for Dave. Still, he trusted Desmond's judgment and that it would be beneficial to him if he endured. Just as promised after finishing up, a taxi was dutifully waiting for him outside.
Once Dave was back home, he followed Desmond's advice as best as he could and cooked up some chicken breasts before he logged back into the game.
Dave's avatar appeared in the Eastern Kingdom. By the looks of it, the city already appeared to be in much better shape than he last left it. The Undead were truly extraordinary workers. They didn't tire, they didn't need rest, so they could keep up a rate of productivity as stable as a mountain.
The thousands of Undead Dave had hired from Dikenz certainly had cost him a great deal of his CP, but it was all worth it as the cracked buildings in the city were all fully repaired and the destroyed ones had new ones being built in their stead.
There was a lot of dust covering the city but it didn't bother the Undead much. Despite the reconstruction efforts, many of the NPCs continued to be fearful of the Undead. It hadn't been that long ago since the Undead had been responsible for many of the present NPCs to flee their city or lose loved ones. Still, nobody had caused any riots or incited trouble, they had all followed the orders of their new king and acted obediently.
Dave noticed a few new shops had opened, owned by some of the braver NPCs. Some of the citizens were courageously moving through the streets to purchase their daily needs. Meanwhile, the Undead ignored the living and fully focused on their jobs. Even with all the bustle, this made Dave take a breath of relief. He had feared that the NPCs would be too discouraged to function, further crippling the city that had just come out of the war.
In the middle of the city plaza, there was a table with a man sitting at it. Next to him were two Death Knights standing guard. On the table were hundreds if not thousands of papers neatly stacked on top of each other. On the other side of the table was a neat and organized line of NPCs, they moved one by one, spoke to the man sitting on his desk and then left with one of the papers.
Dave went toward the man and recognized him as Demetri.
"Demetri, are you already back online?"
"Not 'already', more like 'still'. I couldn't log out, there continues to be a lot left to do," Demetri answered while paying more attention to taking notes on what the NPC in front of him had just stated.
"You should rest," Dave advised.
"I can't. Not now. This may be one of the most important things I have to do, if we want to fulfill your crazy vision."
"So what are you doing exactly?" Dave asked.
One of the NPCs, at the front of the line, coughed and bowed, "Most Benevolent Grim Lord, could you please be patient. We all have patiently waited our turn and we are in dire need of the Chancellor's help."
One of the Death Knights rapidly drew a weapon and placed it right under the NPCs' neck causing the mass to gasp in fright. "He Be Your KING! Great Lord Kis'Shtiengbrah! If he wants you to wait! You'll wait for a lifetime!" the Death Knight stated in rage.
"Chill, bro," Dave spoke to the Death Knight who immediately returned to his previous place at Demetri's side and turned to the NPC. "Did you just address me as 'Grim Lord'? The heck is up with that?"
"It is what His Excellency the Guild Master of the Merchant Guild, Sir Dikenz has told us to refer to you as. If I was disrespectful please excuse my wording, Your Majesty."
"'His Excellency Sir Dikenz'? Damn, I've had it with these titles." Dave sighed in defeat. "Argh, I will deal with all of this later. Demetri, you seem to be the only one here who still makes sense, mind filling me in what exactly is going on here?".
"All these people are business owners. I will need to know their yearly income, and how much they had lost during this war. Once they fill out the form, informing me of all important information, I'll be funding and revitalizing their businesses, and in return, they'll be paying an extra fee to the treasury."
Dave immediately understood what Demetri was doing. If he came to the aid of the NPCs right now while they were at their weakest, they would eventually return the help ten times the number. With his 'generosity' Demetri would guarantee they would have their fingers in every business in town. This way the treasury's income would increase tremendously, without causing strain on the financial situation of the country, as those people would be willing to pay back the one who aided them.
"Need any help?"
"Thanks, but I'm almost done. Just a few hundred more and I'll take a rest. By morning this should be all over. What about you? What is the King of the East going to do next?" Demetri asked while continuing his work.
"I need to prepare for a big fight."
"What? There is something even bigger than the fight for the East?" Demetri asked while really looking up for the first time since Dave had arrived.
"Although the surface world might have been split up now, there is still the Underworld left. The Undead Legion was in the midst of conquering it, but the Ash King is a pretty fucked up ass who has started playing dirty. He is recruiting players to join him against the Undead King. And I can't have that."
"Then why don't you recruit players against the Ash King? That Priest with the loose lips mentioned you had the ability to turn players into Undead. Why not use it?"
Dave rolled his eyes at Flanker sharing his secrets. Next time they met perhaps he should let him become a meal for Tiny to teach him a lesson.
"I do, but it's not good for the players right now. The change is irreversible. Once they turn Undead, they'll remain Undead forever. I am merely an exception because of the Legacy Item I got. They'll become extremely weak to any holy element, and they'll have to start from the lowest rank of the Undead. A Zombie, Skeleton or a Ghoul. Kinda lame to offer a player the chance to join us, when they would have to restart from ground zero." Dave explained.
"Huh, I thought they'd be transferred to their equivalent rank in the Legion as soon as they make the change."
"Nah, Legion ranks aren't given, they are earned. And believe me, I have seen some level 400 skeletons without rank in the Legion." Dave said.
"I can't see how that is possible. A level 400 Skeleton Soldier should be able to easily beat the crap out of a level 150 Undead Captain."
"Sure if you pit those two against each other, the level 400 Skeleton Soldier would win. However, you are ignoring the Legion's rules. A subordinate would never defy a superior no matter the level difference. Then you also can't skip ranks, so they would have to fight an Elite Skeleton before taking on an Undead Captain. It's also all balanced. So, if players were to become Undead, they'll be fighting their equivalent level of Undead in said rank. There is no cheating your way into higher ranks of the Legion, you have to put in the effort." Dave sighed.
This was true, otherwise, Dave's suffering would have been meaningless if another snob could come in with his high level and instantly become a Doom Knight. Hard work paid off. And Dave was sure as hell that none of those wannabe scrubs would be able to take down Du'Rhaza in a fair fight. The Legion only recruited the best of the best. That was why the Ash King was having such trouble with them. They were a unit where the weakest link was ridiculously strong, making the entirety of the Undead Legion unbreakable.
"Right then, you know best. So when are you heading to the Underworld for the Ash King?" Demetri questioned while slowly resuming his administrative work.
"Not the Underworld, I have some Dungeons to take care of. The Ash King has placed several temples somewhere to recruit players. I need to slow down his recruitment drive. Facing the Ash King's army as well as an army of respawning players is not something I look forward to. I have enough troubles with just one of these factions."
"You don't want to join in?"
Demetri shook his head, "I'm not that good of a player and I don't have any problems admitting that. I don't understand half the things people say about Skills and damage and stuff. No, what I'm good at is handling money. My job is to keep our pockets full, while your job is to protect our pockets when they are full."
"I couldn't agree more. Right, I'll gather my party and head out. See ya later Demetri. And seriously dude, you should rest."
"To quote my Dedushka, 'we'll rest once we're dead'," Demetri replied with a tired smile.
"Nah, you'll become an Undead, and if you look around, you'll see there is no rest for the wicked," Dave grinned and used a teleportation scroll to the Underworld.
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