A young man of twenty or so adjusts the camera in front of him as it starts recording. The seats of a private plane behind him. Once he is sure that the camera is recording, he smiles and speaks in a soft british accent. “Hello everyone! Today, we have been invited by billionaire and philanthropist Damon Russo in to the heart of the city once called Salt Lake City, now commonly named the City of The Dead. Damon Russo, a Beta Tester himself, has hired two other Beta Testers to accompany us on this harrowing trip. This is going to be an exciting trip, so prepare yourselves! Oh. Before I forget, for those of you watching this live, please follow my channel to see more interesting content. If you’re watching this on youtube, don’t forget to comment and leave a like.”
The camera shakes slightly as the plane comes down for a landing. “It looks like we’re arriving boys. Just ten minutes away from the borders of the city.” The streamer comments softly, shaking his head in mock wonder. “Anyway, let me introduce you to the people accompanying us today.” the streamer turns the camera around to look at a middle-aged man, with brown hair and brown eyes. The middle-aged man strokes his beard as he smiles into the camera, his eyebrows raising slightly. “This is the infamous Damon Russo, who was kind enough to invite us.” He turns his camera, pointing it at two other people, both of whom are wearing surgical masks and sunglasses. “These two are Jack and John. Wave at the camera you two.”
Both of them give a slight wave to the camera.
Over the next twenty minutes, the four people transfer to a car that was waiting for them. Jack drives them towards the City of The Dead. Smoke rises in plumes as they get closer and closer to the infamous city.
Eventually a blockade of cars comes into view. Using his influence Damon Ross gets the three of them through the blockade and into downtown proper.
The streamer looks in awe at the deserted buildings, the only sign of movement being two figures slowly shambling down the street in the distance. He holds his camera up, giving a wide view of the street.
“Be careful and stay behind us.” Damon says to the streamer, pulling a beautiful engraved sword out of seemingly nowhere. The other two men similarly arming themselves.
Slowly the group approaches the figures, their inhuman movements becoming more and more obvious as the group approaches.
The figures stop shambling as they see the streamer’s group approaching them. Their heads tilt to an uncomfortable angle, their long dead eyes staring soullessly at the group and their camera.
A terrible scream comes from the creatures’ mouths as they run at a sprint towards the Beta Testers.
The streamer curses in fright as he fumbles the camera, but the Beta Testers remain calm as they easily dispatch the undead. One of the Beta Tester’s arrows literally exploding a creature’s head off. The other creature’s head is cut off by Damon Russo himself.
The Streamer’s Chat:
AverageDan: Holy Shit. Wtf are those things.
BudgetSquidward: This can’t be real. Obviously, this is another faked video produced by the government so that they can scare us into giving our rights away, creating a fake threat of “Zombies”. This is how they will convince soldiers to fire on regular citizens! by calling them “zombies”.
MuscleDaddy69: @BudgetSquidward These things are totally real. I live in canada, and I saw some Beta Testers fight some orcs. It was messed up man.
Dusty: @MuscleDaddy is right. I’m a Beta Tester myself. I just walked out of something called a Dungeon. Things are only going to get worse from here man. You should prepare yourself for what’s coming while you can.
GhostHound: @Dusty Bullshit you’re a Beta Tester.
Dusty: I am. But that’s not the point. Things are going to go to hell… soon the whole world will be overrun by monsters like these.
AverageDan: Are you guys seeing what I’m seeing? Was that a troll made out of bones?! Why am I the only one freaking out!
AnyasAssistant28: You’re not the only one freaking out. My friend Anya passed out when she saw her first monster. Most people just don’t know how to react yet.
IleaHealerMMORPG: Oh shit. Is that guy ok? He just got swiped pretty hard by that undead thing.
Dusty: I know you guys aren’t listening to me. But I’m warning you, things are only going downhill from here. Prepare while you can.
I wake up the next morning to the sound of Rose typing something on my computer.
Why is she in my room again?
Oh that’s right. It’s because I’m hopelessly and deeply in love with her.
Also, she wanted to stay the night.
But my first reason sounds more impressive, so let’s stick with that.
I stretch as I sit up. Glancing at my clock with a frown, I ask Rose “Shouldn’t we be at school right now? Not that I’m complaining.”
“School was cancelled. Probably because half of the school hasn’t even been showing up over the past couple of days.” Rose says, spinning around to look at me.
“That’s convenient.” I say, rubbing my eyes as I get out of bed.
“We made it onto the news last night.” Rose interrupts me on my way to the bathroom. “It turns out that one of the attendants at the museum caught most of your fight with the other Beta Testers.”
My mind turns to that one attendant who I’d tipped to let me wear the mask. Smart of her to pull out a phone during that whole commotion.
“They are calling you ‘The Paladin’” Rose makes air quotes with her hands. “But it looks like some reporters are treating you like they treat Spider-Man in his movie. Menace, or hero?” She taps her chin in thought, “That’s what everyone with an opinion is arguing about.”
“I mean, we did stop a robbery.” I point out. “That sounds like hero work to me.”
Rose opens her mouth to continue, but I hold a hand up stopping her.
“Let me take a shower before we talk more. I can’t think straight when I’m dirty.” I say. Rose nods and I scurry off to the bathroom to clean myself up and feel more like a human being.
Rose smiles at me when I get back, turning my computer so that I can see the articles she has up on my tabs. Front page center is a clear picture of me wearing the masquerade mask Isis had given me.
“Now that you’ve saved the history exhibit, what do you plan on doing next?” Rose asks in a mock-reporter voice.
“Well Miss Demor,” I say, puffing my chest out and putting my hands on my hips in a superhero pose, “I will always be here to rescue any cats stuck in trees. So you can expect me to be in your neighbor’s backyard soon!”
Rose puts her hand to her forehead in a dramatic pose. “Make sure to save time in your schedule for rescuing damsels in distress.”
I grab Rose pulling her to me with a smile. Quietly, I whisper into her ear, “Never fear, The Paladin is here.”
I feel her shiver slightly from my breath on her ear. She quietly whispers back, “isn’t it queer? For The Dagger is here to whisper into your ear.”
I pull back slightly, with a worried expression on my face. “Oh dear.”
At that we both break down into a fit of giggles.
“What’s wrong with you two?” Elizabeth asks from my doorway.
Rose quietly closes the tab with my picture as The Paladin on it, while I turn to face my little sister. “It’s a little thing called love.” I explain with a smile, before continuing “what brings you here Sunshine?”
“I just wanted to remind you that you’re going with me to soccer practice today.” She says, looking at Rose suspiciously.
“I didn’t forget.” I respond, looking at Rose who has a troubled expression on her face. “Is something going on between you two?” I ask.
“Don’t worry about it Elena.” Rose says, shaking her head slightly.
“Ok…” I respond.
The rest of the day passes me by quickly as I just laze around with Rose at home. Surprisingly enough, nothing happens during my sisters soccer practice, with the exception of me coming up with some ideas about the use of psi.
It was a normal day.
Two more days pass with that quiet atmosphere, as I seemed to have earned myself a small break from the constant killing and fighting that has been plaguing my life lately. The little Twigling’s population inside my Dungeon Core expanded slightly, and I noticed an interesting social hierarchy begin to form as the warrior Branchlings are decorated with pretty vines and treated with more respect.
School stayed out, which meant that I also got to spend some time at home. I also spent one of those days getting thrown to the floor by Tanaka-san, and occasionally throwing him to the floor in turn.
Unfortunately, my break ends today, on a Friday evening, when Kai’Lenal quietly opens the door to my room and enters.
I had been lying on my bed, as I read Sheyla’s book, which was currently covering some interesting psi spells. As he enters, I glance up at him from the book with a questioning look.
He bows to me, angling his body ever so slightly. “Good afternoon Beta Tester Elena. I believe that I have discovered something that may be of interest to you.”
I place the book into my inventory and give my whole body a quick stretch. Lithe as a cat, I sit up off of my bed to listen to what he has to say. “I’ve been wondering,” I say, idly brushing my fingers through my hair, “Why people can’t see you and Dee, when other monsters are visible to them.”
“Ah…” Kai’Lenal responds, caught off guard by my question. “Dee is a guardian of this house, and a Fae. Unless she wishes it, I believe that no one will see her. As for me… well, I have my own tricks.” He spreads his hands helplessly, not wanting to share his secrets.
“That makes sense.” I say, smiling at him to show that it doesn’t really matter to me if he wants to keep his secrets. “What did you want to talk to me about Kai’Lenal?” I pull out the gloves from my inventory, putting them on. I expect that whatever he has in mind will need them.
“As I was saying, I have found something that may interest you greatly. Consider it my thanks for housing me these past few days.” Kai’Lenal responds cryptically, his reptilian face hiding his thoughts well.
“You are welcome to stay here anytime, your staying here doesn’t bother me in the slightest.” I say, double checking my inventory for anything I might need. “Well?” I continue, looking up at him, “What have you found that is so interesting?”
“I have found an unclaimed Ruins.”
I perk at his words “That sounds interesting.” I stare at him expectantly.
He looks at me in confusion.
I smile, “What are you waiting for? Lead me to them.” I look over to where Dee is currently laying on my desk, licking a little bit of honey off of her fingertips. “Sober yourself up Dee, you’re in charge while I’m gone.”
Dee gives me a small salute, then wipes her finger off with a napkin. Using some kind of spell, she gets rid of the intoxication in her system.
We set off on foot down the road, where Kai’Lenal leads me to a small park with a play structure for kids.
He points at a tree standing a small distance from the swing set, “that is the entrance to the Ruin. I don’t know what lays inside, since I came to you as soon as I confirmed it was there.”
“How do you know it is a Ruins?” I ask, staring at it curiously.
Kai’Lenal cocks his head slightly, “I identified it.”
“Ah.” I respond “[Identify]”
A small box of text appears in the wood of the tree, along with the silhouette of a door.
|Ruins, Rank ?|
After a quick pause for thought, I walk towards the door in the tree.
Kai’Lenal, grabs my arm before I go too far, “I should warn you Elena. I found this Ruins by watching a child walk through the door. It is likely that other mortals unchanged by the system have wandered in. It may not be pretty in there.”
I nod in understanding and he lets go of my arm.
With a sigh at what I will likely see, I walk through the door.