When I walked into the ballroom, I found my daughter and friends still engrossed in their battle. Raine seemed to be doing well in coordinating attacks with the others. She was acting as a tank, keeping the attention of the husk of a man. His pallid flesh seemed withered from head-to-toe through the funeral wrappings he wore, but the gold of his rings and necklace glimmered in the light. I had expected this to be a vampire, but he looked more like a mummy to me.
Dani, Kayla, and Isis were each fighting multiple corpses. Though bearing an obvious resemblance in dress to the one Raine fought, these undead moved much slower and used more obvious attacks. Where Raine had to anticipate a complicated barrage of swings, kicks, and spells, the weaker ones didn’t have the speed to do more than one attack in melee before repositioning to follow their quarry.
“Daddy! They’re healing too much!” exclaimed Dani as she looked back at me.
“Look out!” I warned as two of the creatures leaped at her character.
She was too slow, and her pixie, Luxa, was dragged to the ground where another creature bit her. Nekopawpaw, Raine’s character, rolled over to Luxa and smashed the creature biting her with a frying pan, but the stun effect didn’t work.
“If you’re turned into a vampire, you will be most welcome in my clan!” exclaimed Cosette.
“J-James…” mumbled Raine. “H-help us.” She seemed to be two places at once, her body blurring by her keyboard and next to me with folded hands. “C-can’t save th-them.” Even as she pleaded, she was fighting her opponent and trying to free my daughter’s character from the deadly bite of the creatures grappling her. Raine was incredible.
“Pull an actual weapon out, and I’ll see what I can do. I realize that Nekopawpaw lacks weapon skills, but the quality of the ones you make should help you do some damage.” I assured her. “Do you have your traveling stone?” I asked.
She nodded, still blurring between two places.
“Excellent.” I stated. After the fight Raine had with the Demon Lord, I entrusted her with one of the guild’s traveling stones, knowing it would be safe with her. She primarily used the stone to summon help gathering when she was out looking for materials to use in crafting.
“I’m coming too!” exclaimed Cosette.
“Me too.” agreed Jemal.
“Mila, will you see if my wife can join us as well?” I asked.
“Of course, master.”
“Hurry, hurry! They got me too! Help!” exclaimed Kayla.
“Your pleas will go unanswered.” stated a gravelly voice. “I have risen, so the world shall be mine.”
“I think it heard you, Kayla! Thanks for warning the monster.” teased Iris as she dodged around, throwing lightning at the enemies.
“Hey! Vampires aren’t monsters.” insisted Cosette. “The whole global domination thing is probably just a misunderstanding.”
Alma came rushing into the room, looked around, and said, “Now this does look like a thrilling party.” Then she took the seat next to me as Mila logged her into the game.
“Daddy! Mom! Luxa died!” exclaimed Dani.
“Your parents can’t save you now little one. Even in death, you hear my voice. Answer my call, and I’ll give you powers beyond your imagination.” claimed the gravelly voice.
I looked over to Dani’s screen and saw that she had a quest box open to her.
“My parents have conquered worlds, battled gods, and dined with Death herself. Run or stay, you’ll die someday.” she replied. Then she hopped out of her seat, came over to me, and asked “Daddy, what should I do!? I could become a vampire!”
“Do it!” exclaimed Cosette. “Old vampires can grant stronger boons to the ones they turn. Plus, you might get a unique quest out of this.”
“Sounds fun to me.” I added.
“I’m certainly not opposed.” replied Alma as she guided her character to meet mine in the guild hall.
“Iris? Kayla?” asked Dani.
“Fiiine.” replied Kayla, stopping her struggles.
Iris sighed and said, “Just in the game. No biting me in real life, Cosette.”
“Foiled again!” exclaimed Cosette.
“You’re s-sure?” inquired Raine.
Dani quickly told her “You can join us too!”
“No, th-thank you.” she replied. Nekopawpaw suddenly leaped her opponent and sprinted away.
“So we’re not needed?” asked Jemal.
“No, but you can become a vampire too!” offered Kayla. “Let me bite you after I turn, so you can be my minion.”
The gravelly voice sounded confused by the conversation, but continued its talk of future power. No longer needed, I stood and watched with some of the others as Luxa, Trixie, and Dreamdust accepted their new fate.
“There’s a cure for this, right?” asked Iris. “I’m not sure if I’ll handle the no sunlight thing well.”
“No clue. You’re probably a different strain than I am, and each type seems to have a different quest for curing it. Not all of the quests have been found yet, assuming they exist.” explained Cosette as she smirked. “Relax! It’s fun!”
As she spoke, a cutscene began. The graphical format gave a dreamlike quality to the video, showing the story of a man who rose to be a defender of his people. After several years of battle, they made him their first king. Years passed peacefully until a dark force rose.
The king left to do battle with this creature who had killed many of his warriors and fed upon his people. Tracking the monster to its lair, he did battle with it, finding victory and defeat in his killing blow. As his spear pierced the creature’s heart, a dark force lashed out from the wound and struck, transforming him.
He knew not how long he lay there, waiting to die. His pain eventually ceased, and he found the strength to stand. When he went to the entrance of the cave, the light of day scorned him, burning his flesh.
By night, a fierce hunger had consumed him, driving him to attack the first animal he found, the very steed upon which he had arrived. Driven by a new, primal instinct he consumed the blood of his horse and found that strength returned to him. No, his strength was greater than before.
Time passed as he learned the new ways of his body, exploring what he could do. When at last he returned to his people to tell of his victory, he found another in his place. The shaman who had long acted as his guide now ruled, claiming him to be a demon who stole their king’s body. The shaman ordered the night watch to attack, but they would not. Neither would they grant him entry yet.
The people remained dubious of the shaman’s claim until the sun started to rise. Realizing he was out of time, the king fled, burdened by this twisted fate. He managed to bury himself in a hollow not far from the city, waited out the day, and returned the next night.
This time the night watch attacked him on sight by order of the shaman, not giving ear to their king’s demands. The king fled again, confused why they would spurn him after his continued loyalty to them.
Years passed as he stayed as an outcast, damned to walk the nights alone, defending his people from the true terrors that ventured too close. Eventually, he happened upon a monster devouring a man. He killed it with ease, but was too late to save the man from a mortal wound.
The man’s sweet blood called to the once king, begging to be devoured. When the blood was drank, the king found a new urge within him. Guided by instincts, the dying man drank in turn from the king and was reborn as a new servant, a new follower.
In time, the king had a new people, a new army. He guided them to empower the lands, granting the gift of immortality to all that would join them. Some proved not only strangely resistant to the idea of being elevated, but capable in fighting back. A war came, but the king was winning.
Strangers from a distant land changed the tide with magics of their people. The king was tricked, trapped, and once again denied his right to rule. Risen again, he grants you his gift, so you may join his army and take back his lost world.
During the cutscene Aaliyah and Maple had entered and quietly watched with the rest of us.
Smiling after the scene finished, Aaliyah said, “Well, there goes the planet.”