“Haven’t you ever wondered why very few people are willing to play with us?” Arcana was on the verge of winning, when she suddenly asked a very ominous question.
Michael snickered and said “There’s probably some sort of penalty for losing, right? In the book it mentioned that the price for failure was Aura points.”
She giggled, then shook her illusory head, whispering “We all have our punishments, some are more extreme than others. Checkmate…” Suddenly, both the man and Goddess vanished, and even the illusory chessboard disappeared.
After a few minutes Michael materialized back on his balcony while screaming “What the actual fuck!? Ow, ugh, no, nope, sigh~… Not cool Arcana! Ya could’ve at least given me a warning! Like ‘Oh hey, we’re going spacewalking now; be sure to pack a motherfucking space-suit!’ Naw, that’s fine, it’s not like I can permanently die, right?!”
Then he received a message: “Title Earned: The Astronaut. While many look up at the Moon, Sun and stars as if they’re merely an illusion, you know differently. The sky is not the limit, and those who are brave enough to enter into the void shall receive the blessings of the Arcane Goddess. Intelligence, Wisdom and Perception have been increased by one point each.”
Once he saw that, Michael immediately regained his composure and muttered “Hmmm~, it seems like she really likes to watch me die… Well, whatever, at least I got stats out of it; plus I managed to experience one of my greatest fears. It wasn’t quite as terrifying and horrible as I imagined, but that’s probably only because of my Defense Rating; at higher levels, it’s probably possible to survive in a vacuum while being bombarded by massive amounts of radiation and resist the ridiculously cold temperatures.”
For a moment before his vision faded, he had been able to glimpse at what was supposed to have been an endless expanse, devoid of life. However, he saw all sorts of celestial creatures, monsters, demons, undead, angelic beings and colossal entities of pure-mana.
Some of them were traveling in clusters, while others were so enormous that they could devour small planets. He was also able to discover something very interesting: ‘SSS’ wasn’t the highest rank, and there were at least two more types of Bosses after World.
Since he was making so much noise, the fainted Priestess was startled awake. She saw Michael pacing back and forth on the balcony, and slowly made her way outside.
He snickered and said “Your first meeting with a Goddess… and you piss yourself.”
Elina was still a little groggy when she suddenly remembered what happened, then her face became flushed, as she asked “Wait, that wasn’t a dream?!”
Michael sighed and complained “Seriously, you’re lucky Arcana didn’t teleport you into space. Anyway, there was something that I was wondering about earlier.” She was blankly staring off into the sunrise, as he continued “So basically, I didn’t know this before, but aren’t your brother and sister still out there?”
Hearing that, the cat-girl glared at him before muttering “You told me that they died, and my guild bracelet said the same thing. How could they still be alive?”
He snickered and explained “Nah, they definitely died, but according to that creepy skull thingy… if a person with a mana-core is resurrected as an undead, their soul and personality remain the same. They basically just gain the ‘Darkness’ Affinity and ya know, look all corpsy; I wonder if their Charisma stat drops or something like that?”
Elina yelled “So what you’re telling me, is that Rick and Lily are still alive, but suffering forever as abominations!?” Tears began falling from her golden eyes, again, because it was obviously a very sensitive subject for the distraught cat-girl.
However, he immediately shouted “Calm the fuck down! When did I say they’re suffering? Besides, it’s been like three goddamn days; how the hell is that an eternity? They’re probably just off, screwing around with the rest of the undead hordes. Once we become strong enough, I think we should go try to find them. I have a feeling that those angelic bastards are probably gonna start warring with the legions of the damned soon, and your siblings might get caught in the crossfire if we wait too long.”
The Priestess gazed into the blinding sun while murmuring “Goddess, I know that it’s inappropriate for me to ask you this… but are my brother and sister really still alive?” For a moment, she imagined seeing the figure of a beautiful Cat-Tribe woman, with dozens of colossal wings of pure-white radiance spreading behind her; then her vision darkened until all she could see was that magnificent being of Light.
Suddenly a message popped-up in front of her face: “The world is currently in a state of great upheaval. Helel has returned from the heavens to lead the armies of Lux against Umbra’s legions of undead. However, the forces of Naturae and Chaos are also preparing for battle, as well as their four children: Ignis, Aeris, Terra and Aqua. Aside from Arcana, all the other Goddesses are preparing for war.”
Michael commented “Holy shit, is this a fucking Main-Quest?” Elina wasn’t the only one who received the notification.
Then the two of them continued to read “However, that is only on the surface. The various countries who worship Lux are in conflict with each-other, even the undead legions are divided and at war with themselves. Gaea’s forces are coalescing, but the various Warbeast Tribes are still hostile towards their neighbors. This turbulent era is the perfect environment for true Adventurers to thrive. Mercenaries for the Goddesses, who are unbound by the laws of countries and religions.”
Michael complained “Okay then, is there actually gonna be a point somewhere in this huge info-dump?”
Elina glared at him and asked “How can you be so disinterested? The whole world is in turmoil and you act as if it doesn’t affect you!”
He started snickering, as they continued to read “You have gained access to the Battlegrounds feature. Regardless of where you and your Companions are, upon choosing a side, you will all be immediately teleported to the war-front. All experience gains, physical currency, and Favor will be rewarded to your team as a whole, depending on your total contribution to the battle. After the conflict is over, you will all be teleported back to your original positions.”
The Priestess seemed extremely confused, so Michael explained “It ain’t that fucking complicated. Well, since there were no other ‘Players,’ I kinda figured that PvP wouldn’t exist… I guess it really doesn’t. Anyway, we basically just open this menu, then scan through the list of on-going or upcoming battles, and bam! The second we pick one, we’ll be sent straight to the front-lines, hahaha~! Oh shit, no, cancel, stop, damn-it, I accidentally selected one… Well, it says we have like two hours to get ready.”
In a damp and dark cave to the west, a small, naked, red-skinned girl was sinking her fang-like teeth into the face of an unrecognizable man. Her slimy body was making sloshing noises, as it undulated rhythmically against his.
She moaned quietly, mixed with low growls and high-pitched shrieks. A nearly invisible, pitch-black, feminine humanoid figure was silently watching the Bloodworm-Goblin devouring and defiling the half-eaten corpse.
Sarah groaned as her tail penetrated inside of the man’s abdomen and began feasting on the surprisingly fresh organs that had yet to start decomposing. While she was enjoying herself, a message suddenly appeared, but she didn’t bother reading it.
An hour later, when there was nothing but a bloody skeleton remaining of the level-one, rank-F, Human corpse. What she didn’t devour with her mouth, was consumed by the worm-like tail.
When she finally finished, a notification appeared: “You have received a new passive. Umbra’s Blessing of Lust Level 1: Satisfying your carnal desires upon the remains of a man or woman who you’re sexually attracted to, will increase your Aura by one point per level of the corpse.”
A raspy voice whispered into her left, long and pointed, ear: “Oh, quite a vicious child… Heh-heh~, you should invite your Companion to join you next time.”
When Sarah turned towards the source of that noise, she couldn’t see anyone in the darkness with her: even with her relatively high Perception. She calmly asked “Who the fuck are you and how long have you been spying on me?”
Then the phantom-like existence revealed “Hmmm~, I’m the one who just gave you that blessing… If you’re still unable to understand, heh-heh~.”
The worm-girl’s blood-soaked face became rigid as she said “Goddess Umbra…” A terrifying and freezing cold aura suddenly enveloped the entire cave, and a dim purple light illuminated the figure of an obsidian-skinned woman, wearing a pitch-black dress and having no discernible facial features.
Umbra snickered faintly, before softly asking “Would you like to play a game with me?”