Jason held his breath as Dusty, the player that owned the blacksmith’s, appeared with a custom made, fancy, and very deadly looking assortment of a long sword, dagger, and saber. Dusty looked at Jason with anticipation.
“You,” he hissed with pleasure. “The little rat from the bazaar.”
“Well I remember you too, sir, but it is not very nice to call people names.” Jason said indignantly, and dreaded having to fight the very likely master swordsman. Dusty rolled his eyes and the burly blacksmith stepped forward with his sword brandished.
Overhead the computer commanded them to stand on the designated starting lines and draw their weapons.
“Shut up Thief and draw your blade. Let us get this on.” Dusty eagerly approached his starting spot. The noise of the crowd roared louder in pleasure.
Jason sighed and gripped both hands onto the long sword and walked until he was standing on the white line. He had a sudden, ironic thought that Dusty won’t be as easy to beat and Lehcar was, then the dreaded signal was given.
“You may begin.”
Jason attacked first. He figured the act of surprise would be best. He lunged with his new level five strength and took a large swipe at Dusty, and actually managed to clip him on the upper arm.
Dusty cursed loudly and charged Jason, tiring of his agile and quick jabs and dodges. Jason’s earlier assumption about him being a master proved correct as he repeatedly dodged Dusty’s attacks. At one point in time, when they had locked blades, Dusty managed to swing a punch at Jason and catch him in the jaw.
Jason’s vision blurred for a moment and he slackened his grip. Dusty took advantage of that and twisted Jason’s long sword from him an it flew away and landed in the sand with a clanking noise a few feet away. Jason had barely regained his focus when Dusty cut a gouge in his lower arm. Jason cried out in pain and fell to his knees.
There was a roar of response from the crowd, and Jason gripped his wounded arm as he stood to his feet. Dusty lunged at him again, but this time Jason was ready. He ducked and unsheathed his dagger, spinning around and making drops of blood fall from his wound. The splattered on the sand, almost in slow motion as Jason charged Duty’s back.
It all happened so quickly, Jason hardly realized it had happened at all. He jammed the point of the blade into the base of Duty’s neck and twisted it. There was a snarl and a stream of curse words from dusty, but then he fell to the floor of the e he was awarded him like bolts of lightning tearing his nerves.
He felt, more than saw, Dusty dematerialize and Jason knew his own health was depleting. He waited a moment, not sure what to do but just lay there in the sand.
“Congratulations Player Alias Thief. In reward for completing round two you have receive one thousand three hundred twelve gold, three hundred eighty two experience points, a full refill of energy, stamina, and a half refill of health.” Jason felt his body recharge while he was awarded the energy and stamina points. The pain in his arm also went away, and he felt mostly stronger, though his cuts and bruises stung considerably.
Jason stood up and picked up his weapons. This time, he didn’t put away his elven long sword, but kept it in his left hand, ready for the next opponent. He waited for the signal of him gaining another level, but it never came. He also noticed that he gained less gold and experience points from defeating Dusty than Lehcar. Jason had little time to reflect on that when the computer announced his new opponent.
“Round three. Player Alias: Thief, level five versus Player Alias: Raven, level ten.” Level seven! That was absolutely insane; there was no way that was fair. It was doubtful with Dusty, but was almost near impossible to beat someone so clearly higher up than him. Jason twisted the hilt of his sword and waited as ‘Raven’ materialized.
Raven turned out to be a girl, much to Jason’s surprise. And more than that, she was half elf. Jason noticed that the three different rounds were between the three different races, and he wondered how it was structured. He let the subject drop, though, when he recognized something in raven’s face.
She had dark black hair that fell below her shoulder blades. It hang strait and lifelessly dull in color. Her face was haughty and angular. Her skin was rather tanned, and she walked with a much disciplined posture.
She was just like Cassidy Bree. She walked up to the white line without waiting for the command from the computer. She held her long sword in a fighting stance in front of Jason. He watched her and whispered softly, but loud enough for her to hear over the roar of the crowd.
“Cassidy Bree?” He thought he saw something flash in her eyes, but it was gone and replaced instantly with defense.
“What the hell are you talking about?” She hissed venomously. “My name is Raven. Now go stand in your spot so we can get this over with.” Just as she spoke, the computer said the same thing.
“Both players please step on the staring lines.” Raven didn’t move, but Jason walked over to his place and mimicked Raven’s pose. They waited a second before the final command was given.
“You may begin.”
Jason lunged forward at the same time as Raven. They both swiped the swords at one another at the same time and even ducked simultaneously. There was a murmur, then a low cheer from the crowd of spectators. Jason broke contact and parried towards her. She reacted by twirling her sword in a steep arc and slamming him into a locked position.
While Jason had been making various facial expressions, Raven stayed stone still, and she regarded everything with a rather bored look. Jason stumbled backwards and jabbed his sword at her, but she dodged and returned a blow, that Jason had to twist his body and swing his blade to block her from taking his head off.
“You are really good.” He said, but she didn’t reply. “So how did you come up with the name Raven?” He went on, trying to penetrate the rather scary look on her face. “That is an extinct bird, is not it?”
“Yes.” Raven whispered softly. “You are good yourself. For a level five at least.”
“Well I think that is a compliment.”
“Mmm, sure it is.” She swiped the blade and he ducked again. While she was distracted he kicked at her leg and she stumbled slightly, but took full advantage of her fall and fell to the ground and rolled away, making his downward attack embed the blade in the sand. “Good try there!” She called as she jumped up and shook the sand from her shoulders.
Jason tugged at the sword, but it stayed stuck in the sand. She advanced him quickly, and he decided to abandon the long sword and flee across the arena. The crowd booed him, but he personally thought he heard Raven giggle before she chased him.
As he approached the rounded wall boundary, he turned around and held his hands up, an idea sparking in his mind. “Looks like you got me.” She cocked her head slightly and looked at him as if he were crazy. Deciding to take advantage of his weirdness, Raven pointed the blade at Jason’s throat.
“Now do you really want to do that?” Jason asked as she edged closer.
“Yes.” She replied, her face taking back on its stony appearance.
“Well, then I guess I can not say I am sorry for doing this?”
“What?” Her eyes grew wide as suddenly Jason lunged forward and swiped at her wrist with his dagger. With a yelp of pain, she let go of her sword and Jason snatched it from her and shouldered her until she was slammed up against the wall where he was. She fell to her knees, and with the advantage of the sword, Jason stashed his dagger back into his belt and put the tip of her own weapon to her throat. “You are pretty good Thief.” She said cautiously while she eyed the weapon that she knew would take away one of her precious three lives.
Jason smiled and nodded. “Thank you Raven, but my name is not Thief, it is Jason.” He said softly to where no one in the crowd would be able to hear. When she said that, the look from earlier entered into her eyes before she responded to him in the same low voice.
“And my name is not Raven.” She said and lunged forward, making herself slit her throat. Her body faded faster than the others, and was gone in a large gush of wind, making Jason’s sweat drenched skin cool and making goose bumps appear along his forearms. He stared at where she had been, wondering silently.
“Congratulations Player Alias Thief. In reward for completing round three you have receive two thousand six hundred eighty nine flechs, four hundred seventeen experience points, and a stamina, energy, and health upgrade.” This time there was the sensation of him gaining a level, and he wondered just how much more it would take for him to move on to his seventh. He moved and dug his long sword from its grave in the sand and stashed it, tired of all the fighting for now. He had noticed that his skill had incredibly improved, but he was not looking forward to battling a champion today.
“Now that you have completed the third and final round, you will be able to compete against the grand champion. Due to delay in the opponent player’s activity, the match has been postponed until both have logged in. Player Alias Thief is free to leave and return at a later time. Thank you for your participation.” Why the hell did they always have to say so much to get around a single subject? Why not just say that the other player was not logged in. Jason thought about the wasted time and added stupidity it took the computers, but that didn’t last very long before he felt a gust of wind and Jason was opening his eyes to the inside of the stimulation helmet.