Magical Mystical Heroes – Part 2
Written by Wizalex :: [Friday, 23 June 2023 23:04] Last updated by :: [Saturday, 24 June 2023 11:28]
Magical Mystical Heroes
The Kingdom of Koralon is in peril! The Demon Lord has returned, preparing to ravage the land! Play as one of four epic classes to help the Princess save the Kingdom in the latest expansion to the award-winning MMO.
No one in Koralon knew who Emma was.
After escaping the Demon Lord’s lair she was keen to return to her castle with the good news. People should know that their world was safe before their beloved Princess went out to explore the rest of it. The trek should have been exhausting without that ‘quick travel’ benefit the adventurers seemed to have, but Emma didn't grow tired in the slightest.
She was quickly growing tired of the reactions of everyone she met, however.
It had started as a minor frustration. Emma’s approach to a town had caused the guards to start a conversation, but it was like they were seeing her for the first time. Of course, her appearance had changed a little, but her face had remained unaffected by whatever had happened to her. The idiots probably had coins embossed with her likeness in their pockets!
Unfortunately, when she asked them to turn out their pockets they had instead turned hostile. They thought she was trying to rob them! Her! While they brandished weapons at her, Emma scoffed. A quick wave of her wand tore the swords from their grips and sent them high into the sky.
That had caused a strange alert to appear in the corner of her vision. “Reputation with Korville: -10”. What did that mean?
Emma had discovered what it meant as she walked through the town. People glared at her, merchants refused to talk to her and the innkeeper barred her from entering. With no way of interacting with the town anymore, Emma left dejected.
She should be their hero! She had single-handedly defeated the greatest threat the realm had ever known, and everyone was acting like it hadn't even happened!
The journey gave her time to think at least, something she sorely needed.
The next problem that Emma encountered was her lack of experience. Not experience points, she was pretty sure she had those maxed out, but she'd never actually used any of these ‘skills’ before. With her boosted intelligence score, she quickly worked out how to access her in-game menu. The buffs she had received from the combination of potions she drank at character creation gave her the effective stats of a max-level character, but no knowledge of how to use any abilities.
Unhelpfully, the description of how the skills worked, or even what they did, were unknown to her. The only things she could go on were a small picture and the name of the ability.
Begrudgingly, Emma realised that she might have to go to a player for advice.
She encountered a group not far from the next town. They seemed to be talking to a travelling merchant, but something was off.
The merchant was slowly descending into the ground.
He didn’t even seem to notice it happening to him, locked into conversation with the Alchemist of the party, but the Sorceress was standing right behind him, wand aloft and grin manic. The Knight stood overlooking the edge of the cliff, very slowly shuffling forward.
She cautiously crept closer, cursing her obvious appearance. What were they doing?
It became clear when the merchant’s face descended through the ground. One of those green bars appeared above his head and it slowly began to tick into red.
They were killing him.
A chill passed through Emma’s body. No, surely? Weren’t these people meant to be saving her kingdom? Why were they doing this?
She was close enough to hear the conversation at this point.
“I fucking love this earth magic glitch.” The Sorceress twisted her wand in hand as she suffocated the merchant. “Can’t believe it counts as defensive magic.”
“Sure beats having to do this guy’s stupid fetch quest.” The Knight had finished what they were doing and was moving back over to the group. “I’ve had enough of saving his stupid wife’s amulet.”
A brief scream of pain echoed from the bottom of the cliff. No…
“Environmental damage is a joke,” a voice from nowhere offered.
The merchant’s bar shifted to red and his body suddenly flew out of the ground, resting splayed across the dirt. A blurry shape sped around the corpse, leaving it only in undergarments.
“Why do I always gotta be the one in dialogue?” The Alchemist complained.
“Sucks to be you, Alchy.” The Sorceress snorted. “Choose a good class next time?”
“C’mon,” urged the suddenly-visible Mystic Knife, “there’s another merchant not far off.”
The Knight took the lead with bounding leaps as the Knife grabbed their dagger and vanished from sight again. The Sorceress whipped up a tornado and followed, while the Alchemist panted and puffed to keep up.
Emma ran to the merchant’s side. Dead. He was dead, and they had just killed him. Against her better judgement, she ventured to the cliff edge and looked down. His wife lay dead at the bottom, pushed over the edge by the shuffling motion of the callous Knight.
Emma began to shake as she grit her teeth. A violent pink aura grew around her body.
Perhaps the greatest threat to my kingdom hasn’t been eradicated after all.
Emma arrived too late to save the next victims.
The entire wagon had been tipped over, blown by a powerful gust, and the merchant crushed underneath it. The adventurers had long gone, taking all of the loot they could carry.
Emma struck out in anger with her sword and the wagon burst into flames.
Why was this happening!? Why were these villains posing as heroes!? Why did they want to destroy her world!?
And why – why oh why – when Emma went into the nearby town, were those murderers welcomed with wide arms and hailed as heroes while she was refused entry?
Emma headed back to the wagon that night and slept among the ashes.
Following the trail of the adventurers, Emma decided to go on a quest of her own making.
Emma would be hunting players.
She had intuited a few of her basic moves now, and the demonstrations by that party had given her an idea of what the requirements to use them were. So far, many trees had fallen prey to her skill. Time to bring that practice into combat.
Grasping the namesake of the Mystic Knife in hand, Emma was entirely masked from the senses of the group of low-level players she stalked through the starting area woods. It was impressive really, given how loud she normally found her footfalls and how unmissable her bright pink outfit was proving to be. Having already dealt with a number of townspeople who now saw her mere presence as a threat, she had taken to using the skill often. Now, when she encountered guards intent on engaging her in combat, she simply slipped away.
They were just following their programming after all.
It had taken her a while to make the connection, but it became clearer with every passing interaction. The residents of her world had effectively been lobotomised by their creators, the same people who had tried to erase Emma’s existence entirely.
With that in mind, Emma had decided not to journey into the kingdom proper. She didn’t know if she could cope seeing faces she’d known her whole life not even recognise her. She gulped back a sob as the thought of her mother and father flashed through her mind.
Focus. You have things to do now.
The party that Emma was currently tracking wasn’t the one that she had been following since the merchant wagon. This group were of a much lower skill level and about to slaughter a helpless group of goblins, just for the experience. Emma didn’t really care about the goblins themselves, in her past life she had found them repulsive, but it was the principle of it. How long before this group decided to murder a travelling merchant or even an entire village of people, just for the loot and experience?
When Emma attacked, she didn’t strike with the knife. Instead, she opened the fight with a sweeping motion of her wand. The gusts of wind that picked up around the players sent them all into the skies, buffeted upwards significantly higher than would be safe to fall from without taking damage. Emma intended to maximise that damage. A downward stroke of her wand accompanied another blast of air, pummelling the group into the ground. The body of the Sorceress splattered heavily against a rock, reducing her green bar to red with those two mere flicks of Emma’s wrist.
Now that her element of surprise was gone, Emma charged forward. Her speed was astounding, each booming footfall turning the landscape into difficult terrain for anyone but her. The Alchemist had no time to react before Emma’s glowing sword extended to twice its size, severing his hands and preventing him from using any potions. His green bar periodically flashed red, slowly ticking down from the ongoing bleeding effect as he collapsed.
The Knight clumsily charged Emma in response, clattering against her armour as he failed to knock her back or even move her body in the slightest. To add further humiliation, one of Emma’s passive skills flashed – a retaliatory shove – tossing the Knight to the ground.
With the Sorceress dead and the Alchemist handily dealt with, Emma could take some time to investigate a puzzling phenomenon: her body seemed to be able to apply excessive force with no real effort.
Raising her boot, Emma stepped onto the downed Knight’s chest and slowly allowed him to take her weight. He reached his hands up to halt the progress of her boot and force it away from him, but the efforts were completely futile. The Knight screamed at her, yelling one insult after another as the heel of Emma’s platforms drove further into his body, staining his green bar red.
Seconds later, Emma’s boot settled onto the ground again, despite her having applied no additional force. Merely her weight had been enough to drive her foot through the Knight, with no input required from any of her muscles. She had simply stepped on him. Emma smiled as she surveyed her work, then scowled when she realised what that indicated about her body mass.
The forgotten Mystic Knife chose that moment to appear at Emma’s satchel, sticky fingers delving inside as their cocky grin smirked up at her.
“You thief!” an enraged Emma boomed. “I think you’ll find that everything in there is mine.”
The Knife shook from the force and implication of Emma’s words, their body vibrating faster and faster. Emma wasn’t quite sure what happened next. The Knife’s body distorted, warping into a thin, elongated structure, then streaming into Emma’s satchel as a flash of light and numbers.
Quickly checking her inventory, Emma saw something peculiar: a new tab had appeared for ‘Characters’. There were hundreds of items on the list, but the one at the top was marked with a star. Selecting it, Emma previewed the item. A tiny version of the Knife materialised in her hand.
“Now, how does it feel to be the one being played with? You’ll be staying right there until I figure out what to do with you.” Emma closed her inventory and the Knife vanished back into it, their attempt at dialogue abruptly cut off.
Emma whistled once and an imp flew from a nearby tree.
“Collect their belongings, Impy; they deserve nothing.”
“Where the fuck is all my stuff!” Braden screamed down the microphone.
“My knife’s gone too,” Kylie groaned, lamenting the loss of her precious items slightly less vocally than Braden. “I grinded for 55 hours to get that…”
“I don’t think I have any shoes,” Tyler noted, glancing between his inventory and his skill bar. “And I think I’ve lost basically all of my skills.”
The group turned to face their de facto leader, who currently stood completely naked and remained completely silent.
Kylie let out a brief snort. “Erm, did they change the age rating on this or something? Because those are not ‘suitable for all’.”
“This is it. I’ve had it with this shitty game! I’m out. I’m out for good.” Braden disconnected from the call and his character disappeared.
“Yeah, I’m with Whiny on this one. Like hell I’m putting another week of my life into getting my stuff back.” Kylie perked up suddenly. “Anyone wanna play Castle Quest again? There’s a new bow sniper class I’ve been wanting to try out. The arrows look dope.”
“Think it might be time for me to call it with MMOs altogether. Just don’t have the time like I used to,” Tyler admitted. “I’m sure I’ll be around though, to offer my wisdom.”
“Bah, wisdom is for nerds. Sneak attacks are where it’s at. Speaking of which, I’mma sneak off right now. See ya!”
Then it was just Serena and Tyler. The call was silent for a moment, Serena still having not spoken yet. Tyler eventually disconnected after saying a quick goodbye that garnered no response from Serena.
She was too wrapped up in tears to say anything at all.
“Sales and reviews for the latest expansion of popular online game ‘Magical Mystical Heroes’ have once again picked up. Players claim that the rapid course correction, focusing on the complete removal of the controversial ‘Princess’ character, has restored their faith in the company. When asked for a comment, here’s what WizTech had to say.”
“We admit to our mistakes, and we learn from them. Our initial launch was lambasted by players, who are truly the most important people to us. That’s why we made such a drastic change. If our players aren’t happy, we aren’t happy.”
“With WizTech’s big event of the year — the Magical Mystical Convention — coming up in less than a week, it looks like they’re back on track to being the world’s leading game developer. Unfortunately for one Princess, it comes at the cost of her happy ending.
“This is Erica Chase, reporting live from WizTech HQ.”
Serena listened to the news with a tired ear, focusing on the screen in front of her. Eyes now dry but still aching, she scrolled to another page of code. It had been two days since she had spoken to anyone, two days in which she had tried to work out what went wrong. Two days in which she hadn’t slept.
She almost had it though, she had almost isolated the code. It had taken hours, but she had tracked the groups’ belongings, following their location markers and weirdly enough, points of use. Not only had someone taken their gear, the group were using it all in their own adventures. Serena was pretty sure that stealing gear from other players wasn’t possible, but it was the only thing she could think had happened. The circumstances of the crash must have left their accounts exposed in some way, and they’d become the targets of an opportunistic hacker.
She had it. She had a location. Logging back into the game using her new password, Serena checked her loadout. Sorcerena wore only basic robes and wielded her only remaining weapon, a glorified stick that had been a promotional piece for having a ‘High Seas’ account. Serena’s throat ached as she again lamented the plight of both of her most beloved characters.
But she had a new quest. The most important one that Sorcerena would ever undertake.
Find the equipment and save her friend group.
The wind magic was useful, Emma decided, but unlikely to be especially beneficial offensively. One cast was enough to lead to a large drop and disrupt her foes, but not likely to incapacitate many of them for long. Of that party, only the measly, low-levelled Sorceress had been killed by her surprise attack.
The goblin cave had been a dead end. Their programming governed them to be cowardly, sneaky creatures, who fought furiously in packs then scarpered when losing. As a result, they immediately ran as soon as Emma approached, making any conversation difficult.
So Emma went back to hunting players and perfecting her techniques.
Now, days later, after multiple successful attacks on unsuspecting adventurers, Emma stood next to a tree considering her options. She had touched the surface of the skills of her mundanely magical classes, but her other abilities, the ones she thought of as her Princess abilities, were still puzzling her. What exactly was in her inventory? Why did things seem to break merely from her stepping on them? As a test, Emma put her back against the tree and leaned on it. With the cracking of an enormous twig, the entire trunk snapped in two, while the Princess struggled to regain her balance.
It was so odd. On solid ground, she felt perfectly normal. But lifting herself up would cause a massively destructive impact on everything she passed through on her way back down. Placing her boot on the fallen trunk, Emma walked along the tree, reducing it to splinters as she contemplated the issue.
Emma was so deep in thought that she almost forgot why she’d been waiting here, not noticing the fireball heading towards her until the light was blinding.
“There’s the monster! Take it down before it escapes!”
Emma was being ganged up on by a group of players. Not just any players though. These were unrepentant murderers. These were the same adventurers she had tracked over the past days, spending every moment since their first encounter plotting their deaths. Players who thought that she was the monster here.
It had taken some time but eventually they had taken the bait. The allure of defeating a being that had taken down so many other adventurers was too much for them. Maybe they wanted to kill her for special loot. Maybe they thought she would unlock a special skill. Maybe the ****ing monsters just enjoyed killing people!
Huh. That was odd.
Focusing again on the ambush as she regained her sight, Emma realised that the fireball had already struck a direct hit. She was surrounded by flames, but the red fires of the opposing Sorceress were being subsumed into an incandescent aura of lavender rage. The heat was barely noticeable. Diminishing flames licked around her body, consumed by the violet fires flickering from her hands, her eyes and her sword. The pathetic power of the false heroes made Emma grin in malicious glee.
A healthy dose of catharsis was sure to make her feel better.
Another spell lashed out at her, an icy shard that shattered on her breastplate and obscured her vision. The mist thrown up by the exploding ice caused her another instance of temporary blindness, but the damage itself?
Emma hadn’t felt a thing.
She remembered pain. She remembered it intimately, having excellently detailed and mind-meltingly painful memories of each and every one of her deaths. This? This was nothing.
Caught in her own memories and confident in her new abilities, Emma allowed the party time to advance on her.
“It’s stunned!” The Knight called out. “I’ll mark it! Sorceress, keep blasting!”
It? These despicable creatures were referring to her as it?
The Knight’s Taunt ability worked, though the unintended slight proved just as effective at unleashing Emma’s wrath upon him. When her vision returned, she launched herself straight at the Knight in a whirlwind of pink fabric and flames. The Knight himself had inspired Emma to try out a more creative use of her Charge and Brute Force skills. She’d been planning it since she saw him casually shuffle another helpless peasant off a fatal cliff edge.
Without even drawing her weapon, Emma’s body crashed into the Knight and tore through him. His armour shredded, his pack fell from his back, his sword and shield dropped from his hands, and his body collapsed into a spray of ephemeral symbols, fading out of existence just as soon as they appeared.
Emma emerged from the other side of the former Knight, trails of the character’s broken data falling from her body. She half-grinned in satisfaction.
The Sorceress standing directly behind the Knight went wide-eyed in shock.
Moving at fantastic speed, Emma gave the vicious murderer no time to react. She reached out a gauntleted hand, grasped the Sorceress’ head within it, then pulled back as she kicked her foe’s body with staggering force, unleashing a massively overpowered Gust spell with her kick.
The Sorceress went flying backwards while her head remained firmly in Emma’s grasp.
Spinning on her grounded heel, Emma took aim and launched the rapidly decoding head at the panicking Alchemist. It broke completely as it impacted his body, merely stunning him further, so Emma followed up with another spin, this time crouched to the ground, arm extended and dagger in hand.
A deft flick of her dagger sent it soaring through the Alchemist, cleaving his body in half.
The dagger continued unabated, flying into the far distance. The Alchemist hadn’t registered his death yet. Moving in the moment between when the damage happened and when it took effect, Emma leapt at the Alchemist, grabbing a potion from her belt. When she stood directly in front of him, she tossed it between the separated halves of his body and, with a wave of her wand, reattached them.
Emma’s healing potion got to work immediately, restoring the Alchemist to perfect health.
Then she opened up a trade dialogue with him.
“Greetings, hero,” Emma spat at the Alchemist as he frantically tried to skip through the menus. “Oh, don’t worry about that. You’re right where you need to be.”
Emma grinned as she watched the dagger begin to return.
“Isn’t it strange, how simply talking to a person means that you can kill them without any qualms, or even any risk of justice or retribution? I mean, I find it strange, but I suppose you have different customs.”
Emma held her hand up directly in front of the Alchemist’s whimpering face.
“You ****ing deserve this.” Emma snarled as the dagger returned to her hand.
The headless Alchemist collapsed to the ground.
That just left the damned Knife.
They were here somewhere, hidden under the veil of their dagger. Emma had worked out how to deal with them now though.
With a calamitous stomp of her boot and heightened use of her Knockdown skill, Emma sent tremendous ripples of power coursing through the ground and across the land. Trees up to a mile away collapsed, their roots splintered and useless as they succumbed to the power of Emma’s attack. Far off villages were thrown into a panic that would last until the tremors ceased and they promptly forgot they had ever occurred. The discarded belongings of the other three party members were thrown into the air, crashing back to the ground with a cacophonous clanging of metal and shattering of vials.
Confident that the Knife was now lying prone on the ground, Emma raised her wand and parted the earth, grassy roots sprouting up to grasp at the soil and drag everything on it under it.
A panicked shriek. Perfect.
Emma approached the last living party member, wrapped in vines and half submerged in earth. Their green bar had ticked over mostly to red, the crushing earth ignoring the protection of their armour and evasion, simply squashing the life out of them.
The Knife looked up at Emma in terror.
“What am I, little Knife?” Emma drawled out at her captive victim.
“A - a monster!”
“Wrong. I kill monsters.” Emma's boot came down on the Knife’s head. “I am what I was made to be.”
Sorcerena watched the fight in awe.
Her wand. It was her wand. All of their gear in fact. This lavender monstrosity was using all of it.
She continued watching in fear as the vibrantly dressed woman drove her boot through the Knife’s head, leaving their body to lurch out of the ground and begin to fade away.
And then the monster was in front of her.
Sorcerena flew back from the rush of air, smacking into a tree and losing half her hit points instantly. Given that she had already lost a third of them from the monster’s Knockdown attack, that left her with a worryingly low health bar.
“Aww, I thought that might kill you. You are tougher than someone of your apparent stature has any right to be. Is this even worth my time? Maybe I should be hunting the higher levels here. Those malicious players need to learn a lesson, after all.”
Players? Why was this creature breaking character?
Serena knew it then: this had to be a hacker. Someone had created this overpowered thing and stolen their hard-earned gear in the process. Pulling up her analysis screen on her other monitor, she frantically searched through the interaction log, identifying the source of the code.
A few things happened almost instantaneously.
Power surged through the MMH server room, an unexpected, superpowered lightning strike frying servers across the country.
Emma reached out to grab Sorcerena, her own pink code strangely leaping at the barely clothed Sorceress.
Serena downloaded the errant code, isolating it and bringing it to her own machine.
Sparks flew from Serena’s computer, as Emma was dragged forcefully into the real world.
And finally, the arcing current from Serena’s computer struck her heart, frying her body and instantly killing her.