Chapter 1 – Part 1 – Arrival
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Mike - A Former Prisoner

 

“Welcome Child of Earth, Prihor shall be your proving ground. You are 1 of  6 billion to be brought here, and you shall not be returned until only 1% remain among the living, after which point they shall be allowed to return home.”

Mike’s eyes flew open and quickly scanned the room for the speaker, what they were actually saying not even registering for a moment. He knew right away that the speaker wasn’t supposed to be there, the only voice he should have heard was the guard when he came to bring him breakfast in a couple hours, but after looking around he realized he was the one out of place. Instead of the dark cramped room he had called home for his past week in solitary, he was in a large candle lit room. His first instinct was that he was dreaming, but something deep inside him said this was real, and that scared him more than anything ever had. He then realized the voice hadn’t stopped talking and began to pay close attention to every word while looking for it’s owner, only to find no one else there, and no way out.

“Along each wall of this room you will find crates of armor and weapons native to this world, once you have properly armed yourself in the fashion of the locals you will be transported to the place where you will begin your fight for survival. Along the wall you were facing when you arrived you will find various tools and provisions to aid in your survival, to the right you will find the equipment used by the local warriors, to the left that used by archers, and behind you the tools of magic casters. Some from your world have visited Prihor before, they are to receive all the items and abilities they possessed in the past, and they will be your greatest opponents. 

There is an hourglass in each wall, once the sand runs out in 10 minutes you will be transported whether you are prepared to fight or not. Now arm yourself, and choose wisely, as these first weapons could mean the difference between life and death in the coming moments.”

With that the room fell silent. There was no evidence of anyone else in the room, but Mike still couldn’t relax; his eyes continued to scan the room, every muscle tensed and ready for a fight to break out. After nothing happened for a minute he cautiously began searching the wooden chests around the room; not wanting to pass up weapons if he was being forced into a violent situation. 

He quickly found food and water, as well as survival gear like ropes and flint, but he also found various trinkets that didn’t seem practical. When he moved on to the weapons and armor he found equally impractical things in there, including swords bigger than he was and suits of armor that looked excessively heavy. He eventually strapped on some leather and a set of knives, figuring he’d rather not go out completely unarmed. He took a couple practice stabs with the knives, remembering motions he would rather have never seen, but the movements seemed to come naturally. 

At first he was disgusted it was so easy to remember how to kill someone, but after he grew accustomed to the feel of the knives he realized his body wasn’t moving at all like the others. He had naturally adapted to openly holding a knife in each hand whereas when he’d seen people in the past they tried to hide their singular knife. The more he practiced with the knives the more confused he got by how simultaneously foreign and natural it felt. After the initial confusion subsided he remembered his time limit and got back to searching the room for useful gear.

 

Sarah - A Former Victim

 

After the voice stopped talking Sarah stood dumbfounded for a brief moment before she quickly opened the crate in front of her to see if it could really be true, and there at the top was her Shadow Dweller bow. She reverently picked up the expertly carved black bow and felt a delightful chill run down her spine. Is this actually happening? Am I really on Prihor? I need to check the rest of the stuff! Sarah gently set down her bow and checked the crate for more proof. At first there didn’t seem to be any organization to the junk, but as she thought of a specific item or piece of equipment it was the next thing she found. Am I going crazy? It could just be a coincidence, or maybe I’m subconsciously noticing things and picking them up. I need to put on my gear and test it to be sure. She started by pulling out a black ring with an obsidian band and an oversized onyx gemstone which she placed alongside her Marksmen ring on her right hand. She changed into her prefered outfit of studded black leather, taking a moment to enjoy how natural it felt before picking her bow back up.

Sarah pulled back the string on her bow and took aim at a candle on the opposite side of the room. An outfit is easy enough to replicate, but this can't be faked, if this works it's all real. A smile started to spread across her face as she thought to herself, as her new reality dawned on her. If this works I have power. Sarah looked from the empty bow in her hands to the ring on her finger, steadied her breathing, and pictured an imaginary arrow knocked on her bow. To her delight the gem in her ring began to grow, and within seconds an arrow made entirely of obsidian was resting on her hands, just waiting to be let free.

Sarah’s face lit up as her deepest desire was confirmed to have come true. I'm back, I'm really on Prihor, now no one will ever be able to push me around again. “Alright, I'm ready to make the world burn. How much longer do I need to stay in here?” 

In spite of her eagerness, the voice did not return, and the sand in the hourglasses continued to fall at it’s agonising rate. After nothing happened she knew it was pointless to try leaving before the time was up, so she began to practice. Her body remembered how to shoot, and she hit every target she aimed at. Eventually she tried making other weapons; her ring was only meant to make arrows, but it easily made darts and throwing knives too. While she was just as skilled with them as she was with her bow, she still preferred the feel of it and knew it’s added abilities would be an advantage.

Eventually the last grains of sand fell, and as they did the contents of the room disappeared, and in their place stood a simple wooden door. 

 

 

Ashley - A Former Student

 

Ashley had thought this was some sorority prank at first, but quickly decided this was too elaborate, and whoever had put all these weapons here meant business. She didn't know how to use the archery equipment, and she didn't think messing with something labeled magic could end well, especially if it was real, but when she picked up the bronze sword now strapped to her hip she knew it was probably her only chance of survival. She quickly put on the armor that she found with the sword, and what was more surprising then that she already knew how to fasten it properly, was how natural it felt to wear. 

Once the breastplate was properly attached she decided to take a look in the provisions boxes, even if this was some overly elaborate joke and her life wasn’t in danger, she had no clue how long she had been here already and she knew she would need to eat something. The first thing she found was a leather sack, a little over a foot long and shaped somewhat like a bean, with a stopper at the top. She picked it up and found it was filled with water so she set it aside, hoping she could find something more practical but knowing she would want it if this was a life or death situation. The next thing she found in the boxes was a crude looking leather backpack with straps that looked like a rock climbing harness. Before time ran out she also found a kitchen knife, a wheel of cheese, some salted meat wrapped in brown paper marked “Beef”, and an odd pale-blue stone that she put in one of the pouches attached to the harness of her bag as a good luck charm. 

As the last grain of sand fell from the hour glasses the boxes in front of Ashley disappeared, replaced with a simple wooden door and the voice from before returned, “The time for battle has come, step through the door and meet your destiny. Do try to enjoy yourself out there.” Having no other choice, Ashley opened the door and stepped into the blinding sunlight. Once her eyes re-adjust, Ashley found herself on a stone balcony surrounded by people similarly dazed by the bright sun. Everyone just stood around staring at each other, from a glance it was obvious they had all been through the same thing, and all were armed to kill, but no one wanted to fight. 

There was a mixture of tension and confusion in the air as the dozen or so people waited for something to happen, and soon everything happened. Screams erupted from the town below as war broke out, stirring a bone chilling panic in Ashley’s heart. Is this really happening? Am I really going to die like this? Her fear momentarily paralyzed her, but a few around her were spurred into action. Someone in armor identical to Ashley’s backed into a boy with robes and a staff, only for the boy to spin around and send a torrent of flames at his “assailant”. After realizing his power the boy began attacking everyone he could reach, pure panic in his eyes. On the opposite end of the balcony a man in purple armor bellowed a battle cry and began fighting as well, as if fueled by some inhuman rage.

Ashley realized if she didn’t do something soon she would die a sad pointless death, and this sparked an unfamiliar sensation inside her. If I’m gonna die, I’m not going to go easy! I refuse to die without trying to live first! She looked for a door and quickly found one, but between her and her only visible means of escape was a man in imposing red and black leather armor. She hadn’t seen anything like that before, and then it struck her. There wasn’t anything like what any of these three have in that room, they must have all come here before, and if that’s the case they’re probably all accustomed to killing like this. The voice said they would be my biggest threat, so if I can at least injure this one and escape I have a chance! She readied her sword and charged, stabbing the man, who looked no older than herself, clean through the stomach and out his back, but he didn’t even flinch.

“Huh. 8 damage out of 12000 health. I’m sorry but we could literally do this all day, and you wouldn’t be any closer to killing me than when we started. Now would you, please, explain to me what’s going on? I think I slept through most of the explanation the weird voice thing gave.”

Ashley was astonished, she had just stabbed someone, another living person, and he didn’t even care. What’s going on in this messed up world? She suddenly lost all her strength and collapsed to her knees. There’s nothing I can do, I never stood a chance. “I’m going to die.”

“On second thought, stay here for a minute while I sort this out. Ok?” The man she had stabbed pulled out the sword and walked behind her, completely ignoring her. She heard the sounds of a struggle and what could best be described as leaves rustling violently, before the man spoke again, “If everyone is sufficiently calm could one of you please explain what exactly I missed?”

 

 

John - A Dead Man Walking

 

As John stepped through the door and into the sick game that awaited him, his senses were assaulted by the intense heat and strong smell of sulfur. After taking a minute to adjust to the climate John looked around and saw a majority of the people standing around him were still having trouble standing, but here and there were people wearing more advanced armor then he had been offered in the room, and none of these people seemed to have even the slightest issue with the change in circumstances. Among the hundred or so people within Johns field of view, only a few were obviously veterans, but among them there were 2 that were clearly powerful people. The first was someone a ways to his right, too far away to see any detail, but they appeared to be throwing balls of fire and incinerating the weaker people around them, clearly eager to play their part in the coming slaughter. The other was closer, but thankfully he appeared as passive as the other was aggressive. A man in full armor, whose very presence could only be described as 'Malevolent' walked calmly across the wasteland, no one dared approach him because even with their senses impaired they could all feel he was in a league beyond imagining. The man seemed perfectly at home in this dead world, casually walking over the burnt bones of a former civilization while people started dropping all around him. The passive one walked ever closer to John, who was already hardly able to stand. The sheer presence of this man seemingly sucking the life from those around him as they all fell to their knees. John looked at the ground as his heart started to pound in fear for his life, but his fears were unnecessary. The figure ignored him, continuing past him through the rising chaos as more and more people began fighting for their lives. 

The person throwing fire had been slowly moving closer to John, leaving a trail of burned corpses in his wake, and eventually he caught sight of the malevolent figure. “At last a worthy opponent! Your armor looks Vampiric, it can’t beat my Forgotten Magic, but hopefully you can provide some amusement.” The passive figure stopped for a moment, then continued to walk past the aggressor and called over his shoulder “I’m gonna have to pass this time man.”

“What, too scared to fight me weakling? Come back here and take it like a man!”

The man finally stopped and turned around “You’re starting to remind me of a toddler throwing a temper tantrum, do you need to be put in timeout?”, which only seemed to enrage the target of his taunts. 

“If you won’t put up any resistance, then die where you stand!” 

A pillar of fire engulfed the passive man, and for a second John thought there was no way he could have survived, but through the fire the man could clearly be seen standing. He calmly began walking forward, what could only be described as murderous intent rolling off him in waves. “I’m not opposed to killing, but while I had hoped to avoid it, you clearly want to die. You might consider yourself powerful, killing people who can’t even be considered level 1, but when compared to me you’re a gnat.” The man removed two jagged swords from their sheaths at his waist, and in a blur completely closed the distance between them. The other man didn’t seem surprised and raised his hand to throw another wave of fire, but as it sparked to life a sword pierced his stomach, followed by a flurry of slashes from the jagged blades.

John watched, horrified by the now clearly one-sided fight, but too scared to look away. Those two are monsters. It’s people like them that will live to go home, the rest of us can just cower and wait to die. He was so transfixed by the sight before him, he failed to notice the person walking up behind him. In his final moment he heard the man behind him speak, “I’m sorry about this” and felt the cold blade pierce his armor.

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