Chapter 26: Fiery Victory
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As the duel between Kyle and Jake intensified, Kyle couldn't help but feel a slight advantage with his Crystal Staff. He knew it was all in the spirit of fun, but Jake's comment struck a chord.

"Hey, Kyle," Jake called out, a grin forming on his face, "I've got something for you in my inventory. A spare sword I picked up earlier. Want to make this a fair fight?"

Kyle hesitated for a moment, considering the offer. He lowered his Crystal Staff, deactivating the shimmering Scutum Lucis, and agreed with a competitive gleam in his eye, "Alright, Jake. Send it over."

Jake opened his inventory menu and dragged the spare sword to Kyle. With a flash of light, the finely crafted blade appeared in Kyle's hand. It had intricate engravings on the hilt and a sharp edge that glinted in the sunlight.

Suddenly another prompt appeared in his HUD with an unexpected opportunity.

Enhance Newly Acquired Weapon
Do you wish to imbue elemental power into your newly acquired sword? The chance of successfully inflicting elemental damage depends on your magical proficiency and the strength of the Crystal Staff of Elements' enchantment. This enhancement could provide a significant advantage in battles.
Do you want to proceed with this enhancement?



Kyle was momentarily torn, remembering Jake's comment about having an unfair advantage. However, the desire for an exciting and potentially game-changing moment overtook him. Kyle selected 'Yes', and another prompt appeared.

Select an elemental property to enhance this sword:


Imbue the blade with searing flames, causing burn damage over time.


Infuse the sword with glacial cold, slowing enemies on impact.


Electrify the weapon, granting a chance to shock foes with each strike.


Harden the sword with earthen strength, increasing overall damage.


Bless the sword with the power of the wind, granting increased speed and agility.

Please make your selection.

With a determined gleam in his eye, Kyle selected the option to imbue the weapon with fiery properties. The Crystal Staff of Elements, held in his other hand, began to glow brightly. The magical imbuement process commenced, weaving the destructive essence of fire into the sword.

Jake's voice pierced through Kyle's concentration, his tone a mixture of surprise and frustration. "Hey, what are you doing? You're already overpowered with that staff!"

Ignoring Jake's protests, Kyle watched as the sword's blade transformed into a flickering, fiery pattern. He couldn't help but grin at the newfound power at his fingertips. The elemental enhancement had been a risk, but the potential rewards were worth it in this heated duel.

A final prompt appeared in his HUD.

Elemental Imbuement Successful
The elemental imbuement has been successfully completed, infusing the spare sword with the power of fire. To activate this elemental property during battles, you'll need to cast the "Ignis Gladius" spell. Keep in mind that each use of this elemental ability will consume 10 Mana points.

In a sudden flash of light, Kyle stored the Crystal Staff of Elements in his inventory. It vanished with a shimmer, leaving an empty feeling in his virtual hands. In his other hand, he held the newly acquired sword aloft, its blade gleaming in response to his call.

With an air of confidence, he called out the spell, "Ignis Gladius!"

Spell Name:

Ignis Gladius




Adds fire damage to the wielder's attacks for the duration of a battle

Mana Cost:

10 per activation


60 seconds

The Ignis Gladius spell enchants the wielder's weapon with the power of fire, causing their attacks to inflict additional fire damage for the duration of a battle. This fiery effect lasts until the battle ends and requires 10 Mana to activate. After each use, there is a cooldown period of 60 seconds before the spell can be cast again. Use this spell strategically to deal extra damage to foes or exploit elemental weaknesses throughout the battle.

The sword ignited in a fiery blaze, flames dancing along its edge, imbued with the power of fire. Kyle could feel the surge of elemental magic flowing through the weapon as he swung it experimentally.

[-10 Mana]

Jake's face turned crimson with anger as he watched Kyle activate the Ignis Gladius spell. He was clearly not pleased with Kyle's newfound advantage.

"Dude, seriously?" Jake's voice quivered with frustration. "You just had to go and make it more unfair, didn't you?"

"It's all in the spirit of competition, my friend." Kyle shrugged, brandishing the flaming sword, "Jake, I get it, man. This staff's a game-changer. But hey, you did hand me this sword. And, well, you know what they say about playing with fire.""

Jake clenched his fists, trying to suppress his annoyance. "Yeah, but I didn't mean you should turn your sword into a freaking fire blade! How am I supposed to compete with that?"

Kyle grinned mischievously. "Well, you could always try leveling up and unlocking some cool abilities of your own. Or maybe find a fire-resistant shield."

Jake sighed in resignation, realizing that he might have underestimated Kyle's determination to win their little duel. "Fine, let's just get this over with."

The two friends resumed their duel, fire clashing against steel in the virtual battleground. In the midst of their heated battle, as sparks flew from their clashing swords and the air crackled with tension, Jake couldn't hold back his frustration any longer. With a swing of his sword, he lunged at Kyle, his voice carrying over the clash of metal.

"What the hell, man?" Jake's voice was tinged with irritation as he pressed his attack. "Here I ask you to make a simple request, and you go and screw it up for me. I haven't gotten laid in a year, man!"

Kyle, in the midst of blocking Jake's blows, was taken aback by the unexpected confession. Sweat dripped down his brow as he tried to process Jake's words. He parried another strike before responding, his mind racing. "I said I tried! I can't control what those girls want!"

Jake's frustration seemed to lose some of its edge as he sighed heavily. "Yeah, well, it's been a rough year, and I thought this was my chance to change that. But hey, it's not your fault. Let's just forget about it."

But before Kyle could respond, Jake jabbed his sword forward, slicing through Kyle's leather armor and stabbing him in the abdomen.



[-20 HP]

Kyle keeled over in agony, clutching the wound. "Then what are you trying to kill me for?!"

"No reason." Jake laughed heartily, taking another swing at Kyle, who haphazardly swung his sword but missed. The pain was making it hard for him to focus. Jake took advantage, slicing across Kyle's back.



[-25 HP]

The virtual pain he felt was intense as he screamed out in agony. Despite Jake besting him twice in their duel and almost delivering the final blow, Kyle refused to give up. He drew upon all his remaining strength, his determination flaring brighter than the fiery enchantment he'd imbued into his sword. As Jake swung his blade down for what he assumed would be the finishing strike, Kyle reacted with lightning speed.

With a mighty cry, Kyle swung his ignited sword at Jake's incoming attack. The flames erupted from the blade, forming a blazing arc that collided with Jake's sword. The clash of elements was spectacular, and for a moment, the ground seemed to tremble with their combined power.

Kyle's fiery onslaught overwhelmed Jake's defenses. The flames engulfed him, and he in turn screamed in agony as his body was consumed by magical fire. His health bar rapidly dwindled.

In a final burst of intense heat and light, Jake was reduced to a pile of ash, his virtual form vanquished by the searing blaze. Kyle stood there, panting and victorious, his heart pounding with adrenaline. It was a dramatic and unexpected turn of events, but he had fought back with all his might and emerged triumphant. The air was silent for a moment, and then a triumphant message appeared on Kyle's heads-up display.

Flaming Onslaught

Instant Kill:


[+60 XP]

Skill Unlocked:

Flaming Onslaught

You have mastered the art of channeling fire magic into your attacks. The Flaming Onslaught skill allows you to imbue your weapon with the power of flames, creating devastating fiery strikes. This skill enhances your melee combat abilities, giving you a chance to inflict burning damage on your foes with each successful hit.
Flaming Onslaught Level 1:
- 20% chance to inflict burning damage with melee attacks.
- Burning damage inflicts 5 damage per second for 5 seconds.
As you continue to develop this skill, you'll unlock higher levels, increasing your chance to ignite your enemies and the duration of the burning effect. Use it wisely, and let the flames of victory burn bright!

Kyle couldn't help but chuckle as the next notification popped up on his screen.

Opportunity to Loot!
A fallen opponent's avatar lies before you. Loot their belongings and claim your rewards before they fade away!

The words on his HUD practically danced with opportunity. With a grin, Kyle swiftly began claiming the rewards he had earned from the skirmish.

Loot Rewards:
[+100 Gold]
[+250 XP]

As Jake's avatar disappeared, he heard a familiar chime emanate from the sky.

[+100 Mana]


Your character has ascended to Level 5. You have been awarded 20 Attribute Points that you can choose to assign to Strength, Agility, Stamina, Endurance, Willpower, Magic, or any combination of these attributes. Do you wish to allocate these Attribute Points now?



Kyle selected "Yes" and stared at the screen, pondering his choices. He felt a little bad for killing his friend, but he justified it by reminding himself that Jake had started the duel. He knew that he needed to become stronger to survive in this world.

He decided to assign 3 points each to Strength and Vitality, hoping to unlock new weapons. The remaining 14 points he allocated to Magic, recognizing its potential for his elemental powers.

A new prompt appeared.

Choose your Weapons
You earn a new weapon each time you allocate a minimum of two points to Strength, two points to Agility, and five points to Magic. These weapons can be stored in your inventory and can be called upon for use by speaking their names. You currently have two new weapon selections in queue. Please choose two weapons from the four available selections.

The message faded to reveal his weapons inventory. His Crystal Staff of Elements and his newly-acquired Chinese broadsword were both there, and four images alternating with question marks flashed before him. He recognized the Bow with a Quiver of Blazing Arrows and the Power Enhanced War Hammer, but the other two choices intrigued him.

To aid in his decision, he examined the stats of each weapon.

Bow with a Quiver of Blazing Arrows
This weapon is magically enhanced with an eternal flame charm. Delivers Damage or an Instant Kill to lower-level players from a distance of up to 10 yards. Greater chances for a longer distance increase with higher levels. Greater chances for an Instant Kill increase with higher levels.
Power Enhanced War Hammer
This weapon is magically enhanced with a striking ability that increases the power of each strike. Delivers Damage or an Instant Kill to lower-level players with each strike. Greater chances for an Instant Kill increase with higher levels.
This small dagger is magically enhanced with an ability to inflict a wound on an opponent's soul. Delivers Damage upon lower-level players by deducting Hit Points each minute, unless the opponent heals from a potion or by Leveling Up. Greater chances for more potent Damage increases with higher levels.
Orb of Izanagi
This Orb is enhanced with a magical property that can bind a player to chosen NPCs into a unified Coven. Properties can only be unlocked by the user upon successfully completing a related quest.

Kyle considered his options carefully. The Bow with a Quiver of Blazing Arrows seemed like a useful long-range weapon, which he needed to level the playing field with Jake. However, the Orb of Izanagi held the promise of forming a Coven with Zakira, a goal he was determined to achieve.

He made his choice. The bow became his first selection, and the Orb his second. Tucking them away in his inventory, he resolved to learn more about the Orb's abilities and to find Zakira.

He then sent a quick message to Jake.


Sorry man, but you started it.

Jake responded a few seconds later.


No biggie dude. I just needed to blow off some steam anyway. I'm ordering some pizza. It should be here in about 45 min. And don't think I forgot about our bet. You owe me for this pizza.


Yeah, that's fair. I'll set a timer to log out by then. But if you don't see me by the time the pizza arrives, eat without me. I'm going to try to find Zakira.


Whatever dude. Good luck!

Even though Jake wasn't there, he could imagine his friend rolling his eyes in annoyance. Kyle pulled up his HUD and set a pizza reminder for 45 minutes from now just in case, but he was determined to find the elusive NPC that had stolen his heart.

© 2023 J.T. Acker. All rights reserved.