Chapter 20: The Hub; Multiplayer Active
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Before the chapter gets started, I just wanted to ask a favor of anyone reading and enjoying (or not enjoying, both work). Something that is free and very helpful to any author. Leaving a review! I would really love any feedback, whether good or bad. It helps me improve, and lets me know whether I am doing something  right or something wrong. And I'm pretty active in the comments, so if you ever leave a comment or want to address something, perhaps find a typo, then let me know! I'd appreciate it. I hope you all enjoy this chapter, thanks! (And thanks to you who already do these things. :))

 

 

Chapter 20: The Hub; Multiplayer Active

 

Knowing I survived the battle, and the portal before me would bring me to a much more familiar and safe location, I finished receiving my notifications from the system.

 

[System Notice: You gained attribute(s) through battle. Strength increased by 1. Vitality increased by 2. Luck increased by 1.]

 

[System Notice: Congratulations! You have reached 30 Luck. You unlocked the class ability: {Lucky Strike}.]

 

{Lucky Strike} - A passive ability. Your attacks scale off Luck. Your attacks have a chance to deal 3x damage.

 

[System Notice: Congratulations! You have reached 30 Luck. Your class ability: {Spin!} has been upgraded. Future uses will induce a four floor cooldown. Your chance of landing -Jackpot- has slightly increased. Your chance of landing -Fail- has decreased. Lower ranked equipment will  be removed from the pool. Possible consequences will now be one rating lower than reward.]

 

[System Notice: You learned ten abilities through mobs. {Assimilation} rating increased to C.]

 

[System Notice: Floor 10 completed. Congratulations. Please continue to the portal and move to the Hub.]

 

It was a massive upgrade. I definitely needed to invest in Luck in the future. Actually, looking at my experience points, I should level up when I enter the Hub. That’d be an additional two more points to my luck.

 

I was a tad bit nervous about going back to the Hub. While it was familiar, and safe, there was the fact that other players would be there. And my last encounter with players led to them stabbing me and another player in the back. No parties. Not with more than three players, at least.

 

I touched the portal that would lead me to the hub, sighing as I knew I had to move forward. I needed to play catchup now.

 

Everything went white as I went through the portal. It was quite a different feeling than going up the spiral staircases, but eventually I opened my eyes and saw a town. The town was full of dome-shaped buildings, various vendors standing outside around them. I appeared in the town center, next to a pristine looking fountain. Players - and there were a lot of them, gathered around these vendors, or around each other, talking to one another.

 

[System Notice: You completed Floor 10. You gained 1000 EXP.]

 

[System Notice: You leveled up to Lv8! Congratulations! Health increased by 10. Mana increased by 2. You received 2 AP. ]

 

[System Notice: Welcome to the Hub.]

 

[System Notice: Multiplayer mode is now active. You may now climb together with up to four other players. For more information about Multiplayer, visit a Party Officer.]

 

Last time I had come through here on Easy difficulty, I immediately ran over to a Party Officer. As Alchemists could heal, I quickly found a party. After going through with them for almost ten floors, I realized how nasty people can be. I’d be better off without them.

 

Before deciding to check around, I took my two attribute points and placed them into Luck. That would now increase my damage, as well as do whatever Luck can do for me.

 

“Status!”

Status

Health: 140/140 (cursed)

Mana: 66/66

Name: Zeryn Felix, The Treasure Dabbler

Level: 8 [EXP: 510/38400]

Class: Miraculum

Titles: Treasure Dabbler, Oathtaker: A Friend of Goblins

 

Attributes: 0 AP

Vitality: 22

Strength: 21 (26)

Dexterity: 20

Agility: 20

Willpower: 17 (22)

Intelligence: 16

Perception: 15 (22)

Wit: 15

Wisdom: 10

Charisma: [5]

Luck: 32 (37)

Active Buffs: None

Cursed: Heart Snake (Rating: B)

Active Abilities: {Spin!}, {Biding Hellfire Rupture}, {Goblin’s Recovery Hymn}, {Area Scan}, {Sudden Slumber}, {Shrouded Blink}, {Goblin Alchemy: Elemental Flask}, {Bladefire Infusion}, {Rally Allies}, {Frenzy}

Passive Abilities: {Assimilation}, {Fire Resistance: B}, {Goblin’s Tongue}, {Battle Prowess}, {Wield Element: Fire}, {Perfect by Nature}, {Lucky Strike}

Assimilation:

Unknown Ability: ??? 10/30

Unknown Ability: ??? 1/??

 

The amount of abilities I had just kept getting increased. Wait a second, my unknown ability’s condition requirement went down!

 

“Hi!”

 

“Huh?” I turned around. A young lady had approached me. Sporting an orange bob, with freckles on her face, she gave off a cheerful smile.

 

“Hi! I’m Melli. What’s your name?” She spoke in a very upbeat tone, asking for my name. I didn’t want anything to do with these players, already having an idea of what she wanted.

 

“Zeryn,” I said nonchalantly. “Do you need anything, Melli?”

 

“Ah, um—” She looked somewhat distraught all of a sudden, checking behind her. I could see another player, two, actually, talking with one another. They gave her a glance when they noticed her, smiled and threw a thumbs up. She turned back around to me, “That’s a real nice shield you have there! Do you want to party with us?”

 

Why is she yelling now? “No,” I simply gave my reply. “Good luck.” I meant it. I don’t know how many lives she had already used climbing this far, or if she had already made it to the player-vs-player announcement before dying and coming back, maybe she hadn’t died yet at all.

 

I started walking away, before taking a look at the stunned lady, Melli, before saying it again. “Good luck.”

 

Last time I successfully made it to Floor Ten, I was level five. Yet here I am now, level eight, even after getting screwed over by some probable bugged event. Sigh. I didn’t want to remember it, but I couldn’t not remember it.

 

I went over to a dome-shaped building, one with a banner of an ax hanging on it. The shopkeeper NPC quickly jumped up, asking if I wanted to buy anything, initiating the buy and sell window to appear. I sold the ‘Taurant Empress’s Carapace’ and the loot from Raash Miira Guugi, ‘Eyes of the Keeper’. Deciding not to buy any of the middle ‘E’ rank equipment, I left the shop with the points acquired from the two pieces of loot, 718 trade points.

 

“Hello.”

 

Not again. Someone approached me from behind again. As I was about to turn around, the same voice spoke again, “You’re different, aren’t you? No, I know you are. I can see it.”

 

I looked at the figure. He wore a dark gray cloak, covering most of his body and face. I could see yellow hair hanging under the hood, and his face—I could see black veins. A shade! I couldn’t fight in the Hub, but knowing a shade was here—!

 

“Aren’t you?” He asked again.

 

“...What do you want?” I couldn’t show my suspicion so easily, though surprise may have took over my face for a second.

 

He pointed his finger at me, and I could definitely confirm it then; the black veins on his pale skin. “I want that. I can see it, and I need it.”

 

He—he wants to possess my body! But he shouldn’t be able to attack here, right?! I started backing away from the shade. “Stay back!” I shouted, attention now being drawn to me and this stranger—this shade.

 

“Shh! Quiet down…” He started to whisper “I’m a Cursemaster. I can see something powerful within you, and I want it. Curses affect me differently—and you look nothing like a Cursemaster to me. Give it to me.”

 

Oops. “Ah, really? I’ve never heard of a Cursemaster before, though.” I tried chuckling lightly, but the nervousness within it could easily be identified. “So, how do you—”

 

“Do you perhaps play on Hardcore? You must, right? How else would you have something that powerful within you? What is it, like ‘C’? Maybe ‘B’? Oh, man. I hope it's that powerful.” The stranger, now known to me as a Cursemaster, asked many a question. Surprisingly, they were quite spot on.

 

I just looked at him, and repeated the question I was going to ask before he interrupted me, “How do you remove it?”

 

He pulled his hood down, and I could more clearly see him.  The veins were practically like a tattoo as it covered most of his face. But they were definitely veins. His hair was about mid-length, and his eyes had almost turned black, most certainly from a curse.

 

“Simple,” he said. “Let me touch where it stays, and I’ll drag it out with my {Curse Eater}. How about it?”

 

I didn’t want to say no, the ‘Heart Snake’ crushing my maximum health by 50%. “Go ahead,” I smiled.

 

He placed his pale hand on me, and it started converging an aura of darkness. I could feel a pull at my heart, yet it felt like release as well. His eyes lit up with the curse funneling towards him.

 

“Henry,” he said. “My name is Henry, and like you, I’m roaming Tethralin as a Hardcore player. Level nine, though you must be much stronger than me to have been handling this ‘B’ rating curse.. Haha it feels great!” He laughed in joy as he told me his identity. He put his hood back on, and began sauntering off.

 

“Zeryn,” was all I said as he threw his hand up, acknowledging me.

 

I walked over to the diner, grabbing a luxurious meal for myself. Free of the ‘Heart Snake’, I felt much better. My health points now sat at 280, and I didn’t need to fear death by two ‘Heart Snakes’. I spent 300 trade points on this meal, but it didn’t provide any buffs whatsoever. The meals with buffs easily cost ten times that, and I couldn’t quite afford it. Probably because I missed three whole floors of goodies.

 

As I was finishing up my meal, I felt a hand firmly grasp my shoulder. I tried turning around, but I felt completely rooted to my stool.

 

“Uh uh,” a soft whisper reached my ear. “Want to know some secrets? I’m sure you do. So, I’ll let you know—on one condition. Survive until you reach the next Hub. I have to know you're qualified, of course.” I felt the hand finally free me, and I turned around to see who would be capable of something like that.

 

All I could see was a ginormous, and I mean ginormous, shield float away out the exit of the diner. It shrunk as it went out the door, just to expand again. I got out of my stool, and was about to follow the person, but the shield abruptly moved right in front of me, in front of the exit, blocking my path. It wouldn’t budge as I pressed against it and tried to move it. “Ask for Yesha,” a voice, almost sounding like it came from the shield, could be heard. Then, the shield disappeared, the person along with it.

 

What—the hell—is going on in this game? And why do people keep coming to bug me? “Ugh.” I let out a sound of disgust. Now, it felt like I was being manipulated and I didn’t like it. Secrets? More fucking secrets. I just want to survive.

 

I started walking around again, looking for my target, the portal to Floor 11. For some reason, it moved around every hour or so. The only explanation anyone had ever given was, “Maybe a certain amount of people went through it and it got full?” It sounded dumb to me, but who knows.

 

I finally spotted the portal, when a rough voice reached my ears, “Hoho, nice shield there pal. How about you team—”

 

“Fuck off,” I couldn’t bother dealing with anything anymore. My mood was unsettled now, even though I had had my curse removed, I couldn’t care less. I touched the portal, everything turning white as I was teleported to the next location.

 

[System Notice: Welcome to Floor 11’s starting point.]

 

I didn’t bother taking in my immediate surroundings. Though when the words that left my mouth were finished, I swear I saw a faint golden radiance.

 

“{Spin!}”

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