Brittany Parker strode through the dark forest, trees thickening around her. She had strayed from the path and had entered a strange forest with dark boughs and large protruding roots that hampered her path at every possible turn. A warning alert had popped up in her HUD indicating that she had entered a ‘Lost Zone’, but she had ignored the prompt and pushed onward. On the chat boards she had read about unique player experiences and rewards found in Lost Zone areas in Conquest, but you could only retain these rewards if you were able to find your way back out with your bounty. Rumor had it however that few players had ever succeeded.
The air around was musty, and it seemed like the darkness wanted to draw every bit of strength out of her. The Augmented Reality environment was so real that she was having difficulty breathing. Moreover, it was dark. The thick canopy above didn’t help. Her inner voice started screaming its apprehensions about continuing any further, and it might be better to just accept the penalty XP deduction and log out.
Part of her wished she could see the augmented sky, experience the freshness of open air. She wanted to welcome the sun on her avatar’s face, or if it was night in the game world she wished she could gaze at the twinkling stars and appreciate the crescent moon’s beauty. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. The map on her HUD had grayed out the instant she had swiped away the warning, so she was trapped here in this forsaken Lost Zone.
The forest was a trap. No living thing could possibly stay cooped up inside such a cage.
Eager to get out, she quickened her pace, often tripping over the protruding roots. She still carried her old spear, primarily using it as a hiking stick to maintain balance. She cursed every time her mouth opened to let out a word. Her bones complained of ache and demanded rest. Yet she gave no thought to her avatar body’s complaints, strengthening her grit to leave the place as soon as possible.
“Such a stupid idea!” she mumbled to herself.
This is SO not worth it!
Regardless, she moved on. Deeper and deeper into the forest’s depths she went. A chilly wind blew, making her shiver despite the armor she wore. Usually, it kept her warm, but this cold seemed uncanny. The trees around her changed, its boughs even darker, its canopy even thicker. She cringed and halted in her tracks.
Should I keep moving forward? Or would it be better to retrace my steps and get out of this wretched place?
The darkness ahead did her no favors. Yet, when she looked backward, she felt a sense of dread hit her. The way back no longer seemed as safe as it had been while she trudged along. Yellow glowing lights dotted in every direction. Whichever way she went, she would have trouble getting out.
Perhaps I might not even find my way out.
What those yellow lights were, she had no idea. They had appeared out of nowhere. She was pretty sure they weren’t there before. They just lingered, never coming near. And with it a funny smell lingered in the air. It was as if they were gauging the risks of approaching her.
Is someone following me?
A grunt escaped her mouth and she trudged forward, feeling very uneasy about the strange arrivals. She took narrow steps, wary of her surroundings. The trees closed in around her, trying to hem her in from all sides. It felt as though the trees talked to each other and had decided to block the way forward.
Then she heard it – a whisper. Perhaps it was just the air. The dread only increased every passing second.
Looking behind, she saw the yellow lights disappear and heaved a sigh of relief. Perhaps it was just a trick of her eyes. She was about to thank her fortunes when the yellow lights appeared again, this time closer and brighter. A frown encroached on her forehead.
What are they? And why are they following me?
Then she heard a hiss, like that of a snake.
It made the hair on the back of her head stand on end. She looked here and there, trying to decipher where the sound had come from. The yellow lights blinked suddenly. She closed her eyes and realized the error in her guess. The lights didn’t belong to torches as she had presumed at first, but instead were eyes. She wanted to smack her forehead, but refrained.
I should have known!
By its sound, she was pretty sure it was some type of reptilian creature. And then it swished its tail, its dark green scales hitting a tree and leaving a dent in its thick bark. As it drew near, she saw its face. It looked somewhat like a dragon, but with a snake-like body. It had no legs.
Threat Detected: Level 20 Basilisk
Strengths: Prolonged exposure to the basilisk’s eyes can cause temporary paralysis of players and on occasion instant avatar death. Once paralyzed, the basilisk will often bite its prey with its poisonous fangs, causing instant avatar death. Further, a single drop of basilisk poison is potent enough to melt skin upon contact. Classified as one of the rarest creatures in CONQUEST, but yet one of the most dangerous.
She retreated, trying to make her footfalls as quiet as possible. Not that it would make much difference, but she knew if she ran, they would follow. Snakes could outrun most animals and humans, and there were at least six of them here. Although, five of them remained at bay.
How can I get rid of one basilisk, let alone six?
When the reptile opened its mouth, it displayed its fangs, green ooze dripping off it.
“You’ve got this!” she tried to rally herself.
She raised her spear and waved it in the air, issuing a challenge to the reptile. It was stupid, it was reckless, but she did it anyway. Running was no solution. Standing rooted to the spot waiting for it to strike her was no solution either. The only way out was to go swinging. The basilisk snarled at her movement. It seemed angered at her challenge.
Instead of bringing its teeth down on her, it lashed out with its tail. The tail’s breadth could match a decently sized road.
She tried but failed to jump over it. It struck her at her side, sending her smashing into a tree. The bark penetrated her skin, drawing out blood.
She could feel and hear the thunderous crunch as several of her bones shattered from the impact. She groaned in severe pain. Her forehead contorted, her mind convinced that she was going to die.
She gritted her teeth and bore the pain as she raised herself back onto her feet, the virtual pain ever increasing. There was no time to drink a healing potion.
The basilisk roared and started wrapping her with its tail. It was tightening its snare.
As she had logged hours leveling up and had her fair share of in-game deaths, she had been stabbed, slashed, and attacked by many creatures. But never before had she been crushed to death!
Her spear had fallen out of her hand, so she had no way to defend herself. She squirmed in the basilisk’s grip, unable to scream as it crushed her lungs.
Just then, the basilisk gave a loud screech and released the grip. She fell down to the ground to see an unfamiliar player slashing and stabbing.
A gorgeous blonde warrior with the identity marker @SuaveQueen25 had come to her rescue. She was doing everything she could to keep the basilisk away, while the other yellow eyes lurked in the distance. They too joined the fray and soon her rescuer was hard put to defend herself against all of them. Even so, she fought, ever so valiantly. Slashing, stabbing, crouching, whatever she could do to save herself from dying too.
Brittany tried to get up, but the pain became too much to bear. @SuaveQueen25 was providing an efficient distraction, so Brittany quickly procured a healing potion from her inventory and gulped the whole flask down in one shot.
Your HP has been filled to 100% capacity.
[HP | 700/700]
Her wounds healed and she felt her bones snap back into place. A warm sensation weaved its way through her skin. She then looked for her spear.
The fight had pushed it away. She quickly leaped over a couple of tails and landed next to the spear, picked it up and turned on her heel. A basilisk had come right atop her, its bright yellow eyes bearing down on her. She felt a deep sense of dread grasp her tight. Her legs straightened and felt as though nerve impulses had completely disregarded them. Was this how paralysis felt like?
Its fangs bared, she saw the green ooze drip. Her armor melted when the poison connected with it. The poison was far more lethal than she had thought. Mustering her courage, knowing another drop would likely melt her skin, she raised the spear and drove it deep into the top of its mouth. She twisted and yanked it out. The basilisk screeched and raised itself before falling down again.
Skill Unlocked: StabTwist
Delivers an Instant Kill when you stab your weapon into an opponent, and twist while withdrawing. Chances of Instant Kill are 90%. Greater chances for Instant Kill increase with higher levels. Requirements: Level > 6, Strength > 9, Agility > 4, Stamina > 5, Intelligence > 4, Willpower > 4
The basilisk’s entire weight bore down on her, but she rolled over to the left before she could feel its brunt.
Phew! Missed me by a couple of inches!
One basilisk down, she moved on to the others who had swarmed around her new friend, who kept fighting as if there was no tomorrow. She couldn’t help but admire the girl.
Screaming a battle cry, Brittany attracted two of the basilisks. They slithered towards her, fangs trying to strike at her. She swiftly moved from one to another and back. Like an oscillating pendulum, she was striking and dancing with her spear.
Reptilian screeches were the only sound in the forest. Heaving a deep breath, she thrust her spear into one of the basilisk’s eyes, blinding it.
Unable to see, it moved here and there, crashing into the others. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw her new friend take down one of the vile creatures. Seeing an opportunity, she moved to the side, climbed up a tree and scaled along a branch. Quickly storing the spear in her inventory, she pulled out a broadsword that she had recently acquired. She then jumped onto the blind snake, and stabbed through its head. The basilisk crashed down to the ground.
Skill Unlocked: HeadStab
Delivers an Instant Kill when in close range. Chances of longer range accuracy are 25%. Greater chances for Instant Kill increase with higher levels. Requirements: Level > 5, Agility > 2, Stamina > 3, Intelligence > 3
As it fell, she pulled her sword out of the creature and slashed across the neck of another.
Skill Unlocked: NeckSlash
Delivers an Instant Kill when slashing across an opponent’s neck in close range. Greater chances for Instant Kill increase with higher levels. Requirements: Level > 7, Agility > 2, Stamina > 4, Intelligence > 4
Only one remained, which her new friend was trying to fight off. As she rushed forward to help, she saw the woman behead the last basilisk with a strong move of her gleaming sword. Brittany’s eyes opened wide, admiring the brute strength.
And then as if nothing had happened, without giving her even a cursory glance, @SuaveQueen25 activated a Spawn Stone and disappeared in a flash of light.
Well, that was rude. I didn’t even get a chance to thank her for the assist!