Authors: G. Akella,Mark Berelekhis
Tags: #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Epic, #Sword & Sorcery
Welcome to the Realm of Arkon, Krian!
There was the familiar darkness of the login screen.
ERROR [email protected]#!278%$
The race selection menu popped back up.
Every representative of this race carries within a drop of blood of the Netherworld’s Overlord...
...clad in heavy armor, they are some of the finest fighters in the Realm of Arkon. You get a 75% (max) bonus to mental magic resistance, the ability to wear heavy armor, and +2% to armor class when wearing it.
ERROR 757%#[email protected]*)&
Demon? What demon? I was supposed to play a human! Demons hadn't even been patched in yet!
"Well, are you ready?" the detestable voice sounded in my head. "Think of this as a beta-testing gig. You've got two days. The graveyard is three hundred yards from the main gate—make it and you'll get a breather. Oh, and another thing—after three or four hundred deaths you'll turn into a slobbering retard wearing adult diapers. Don't let me down now—I'm betting on you. Good luck!" he concluded with a malicious laugh.
What a bastard!
was all I could think of then.
As the loading screen came on, the noises were nothing like what a starting human location should have been. Instead of the smell of milk and freshly baked bread (players selecting the human races spawned in a little village called Still Creek, next to a bakery, if memory served me right), my nostrils were assaulted with the smell of sawdust, tar and some other stench that defied categorization. To my right came the roar of a beast, the creak of a wagon and a yelp of shock and unbridled rage.
Clearly, I wasn't anywhere near Still Creek. Indeed, Still Creek didn't feature sandstone underfoot, nor wood-and-stone houses of ambiguous construction, nor a shed containing a no less ambiguous animal that sort of resembled a yak... or a sheep the size of a yak. The other thing it most certainly didn't have was the red-faced, shovel-wielding abominable organism that was running right at me. Right before death I glimpsed the NPC's level—one hundred seventy six.
A Peasant hits you for 10 damage. You die.
Before plunging into the black-and-white reality, I felt... PAIN!!! Those douchebags must have turned off the pain blocker. As a rule, games like this set the perception of pain at ten percent for regular players, who could further adjust the value in the capsule's settings. For the outright masochists, the value could be upped to twenty percent.
Attention! Your character's perception of pain is set at 100%. This could be a malfunction of your personal capsule or a game bug! Exit the game immediately and notify to the Administration! Failure to do as instructed may lead to serious injury or death. In such an event, the Realm of Arkon's Administration shall not be held liable!
Attention! You died in combat and will now be resurrected at your last bind point.
Remember, you can change your bind point with the help of a special spell. The site of your demise will display a gravestone that will contain your money, gear and inventory items. Any player who finds your corpse will be able to loot the money and the inventory items, but only you will be able to loot your equipment, including potions and elixirs placed into special belt pockets. If you don't retrieve your things within five days, they will rot beyond recovery. Finally, you can grant another player the right to pick up your stuff for you.
I looked through the options: Logout and Contact Administration were grayed out, just as I'd suspected. The zone chat was as quiet as a morgue; indeed, the zone's name spoke for itself: Demon Grounds, Eastern Wastes, Jarus Province, Ashtar Dominion, zone level 170+. Well, damn!
Resurrecting in 9... 8... 7...
Because I had yet to bind anywhere since spawning in this world, I was going to resurrect in the same spot. Before materializing I tried to get as far as possible from the shoveling cretin, who had since wandered off toward a random heap of sawdust. I didn't even dream of going for my gear, but it wasn't a big loss, what with my rags, a worn staff, few pieces of bread and a flask of water. I had to make it to the graveyard somehow—that would buy me time to consider my next steps.
When the colorful picture returned, I spun around and zipped down a foot-worn, dust-laden road away from the peasant, naked save for my loincloth. Or at least I attempted to. With an ear-piercing shriek, a woman I'd nearly run over threw down her shoulder yoke, sending half a dozen empty buckets crashing to the ground. Her hands free, she executed a proper right hook that sent me straight to my next incarnation.
Perhaps it was time to start believing in omens! I hadn't even noticed her level. Just an ordinary peasant woman—her face quite comely, almost human, with reddish skin and simple clothes.
A Peasant Woman hits you for 10 damage. You die.
Two minutes till resurrection. The gray-and-white tones made it difficult to orient myself, especially since ghost form only allowed me to see the nearest NPCs and vague structural outlines. Leaving the resurrection area wasn't an option. Neither was staying dead. The game would resurrect me every two minutes and, considering the level difference between my character and the hostile NPCs in the area, they would aggro on me from a hundred yards at the least. Theoretically, I shouldn't die from pain shock since I was getting one-shot each time. It was still painful, though! Excruciating, even. But the pain lasted only a moment, fading away with my "death."
The next several hours brought nothing new... I resurrected and died. Died and resurrected.
A Boy hits you for 10 damage. You die.
You've unlocked Toughness, a passive skill. You can now resist pain! Your pain threshold has been lowered by 1% for all incoming damage. From now on, your character's threshold equals 99%.
This skill is capped at 80%.
It was the fourth time that damned sniper sent me to be reborn. Little stone-slinging bastard!
Toughness... I'd never even heard of such a skill. It must have been unlocked by the 100% pain threshold. Ivan had mentioned before that the game did some crazy things at times. At any rate, it was hardly something that could help me here and now.
Resurrecting in 9... 8... 7...
I stopped counting time, my deaths and flashes of pain. There came a point when an inhuman, unbearable thirst took hold of me. My strength reserves were enough for a two-second acceleration, but what could two seconds do in my situation? Once I'd managed to make it to the gate, where two level 200 beefcakes with pole-axes sent me right back to the stables...
Resurrecting in 9... 8... 7...
The nightmare continued...
...Released in 2034, Realm of Arkon remains well ahead of the competition as the world's number one massively multipayer online game. As of January 1, 2037, the game boasts 57,598,345 subscriptions.
The game's total playable territory spans over 4 million square miles, which is comparable to the Australian continent.
Offering full immersion, the game utilizes over 50,000 fourth through sixth generation AIs, governed by RP-17—a seventh-generation Sage class AI. According to the developers, the game's sensations come as close as 87% to reality.
Demon Grounds Patch Announcement:
Attention: All servers will be down on April 27 for Patch 17.
If you want to take part in the beta-testing, please submit your request directly from your account.
Many centuries ago, having lost a decisive battle to the Gods of Light, remnants of Velial's army were hastily retreating to the Infernal Fault. Desperate to hold back the united forces of light and several of Arkon's dark races, the Netherworld's Overlord sealed the entire plane of existence and cast down the souls captured in the war, subjugating them to his will. Sacrificing half of his blood and all his remaining strength for its creation, the Great Arkan shook the very bedrock of reality. When the Gods of Light tore off the infernal seals, their army was met by battle-ready legions of their former comrades. Velial and his broken forces disappeared into the bowels of the Netherworld—staying behind for the battle was pointless. The forces of Light withdrew, sealing the plane once more and dubbing it Demon Grounds. Ever since that day, legions of the risen guard the entrance to the Netherworld. The blood of races light and dark mixed with that of the evil overlord, and proximity to the Netherworld altered their appearance. Thus a new race appeared in Arkon. The Demon race.
Rage, cunning and cruelty run alongside wisdom and fearlessness. At their core, demons recognize neither light nor dark gods, nor even the Netherworld's Overlord who had abandoned them in their hour of need.
More than half of this race are humanoids who have inherited all the traits and characteristics of their ancestors. And the blood of the True Demon, coupled with proximity to the Netherworld, gave rise to certain mutations unique to their race.
Sixteen dominions in all are engaged in perpetual warfare—with each other as well as with the hellspawn crawling out of the earth's many rifts. Besides demons, the closed plane is home to huge numbers of varied creatures that used to inhabit these lands. Over time, these creatures have all mutated to varying degrees.
Get ready for 4 new classes and exciting new ways to grow and personalize your character! The patch will include 16 new raid zones, over 100 hidden quests, 18 new gear sets, over 200 epic weapons, over 400 new mobs, new pets and mounts, and much more!
Look for more information about the patch on the company's official site.
It all began a few years ago when, on the insistence of my little (and only) sister, I submitted my works to the studio behind the Realm of Arkon.
Roman Kozhevnikov, a 32 years old Moscow resident, divorced, no kids. An ordinary man with an ordinary childhood, after getting my Bachelor's in finance online, I took a job as head of sales at a midsized company. My hobbies included art, beer and women. I was just your average Joe.
On that momentous weekend, my little sister burst into my rented apartment like a tornado. Wrinkling her nose at the fragrance hovering in the hallway—my latest fling had just departed ten minutes prior to her arrival—she shoved into my hands bags of produce, pecked me on the cheek and, without bothering to take off her shoes, slipped into the room.
"Hey!" I yelled after the ginger beast. "Shoes off!"
"Like you ever clean this place!" Alyona shouted back from inside the room. "You should be putting your hoes to work, at least—have them vacuum once in a while. Don't leave it all up to me."
I carried the groceries into the kitchen. My sister would never visit just because—she was under constant impression that her brother was on the brink of starvation. I must have told her a thousand times to stop bringing me food, but my pleas fell on deaf ears.
"Have some decency!" I said indignantly, walking into the room. "I clean up plenty. Maybe not every day, but every other for sure..."
"Oh, sure! Dusting off a keyboard, rinsing a coffee mug, and flushing the toilet—that's real proper cleaning," she snickered, peering into the monitor while hammering away on the keyboard.
Man, her future husband was in for a fun life! If anything, it wouldn't be boring. Considering Alyona's energy, daily shakeups and eventual spoon-feeding at a mental ward was all but guaranteed.
"Don't you have Internet at home? What are you searching for? Need any help?" I asked, but my little sister simply waved me away.
"The only thing you're good for is searching for the nearest club or dating site. Don't make me go into your browsing history... Ah, there it is!" she stuck a finger in the monitor. "Have a look."
"What is it?" I asked as I walked up to her. Looking back at me from the monitor screen were two female elves, clad in suspiciously light armor as they posed triumphantly over the carcass of some mythic beast that sprouted more arrows than a porcupine had quills. "And?"
With a heavy sigh and a wry face, my little sister got up from the chair, sat me down in it instead, and began to speak—in the tone of a doctor addressing a mental patient.
"Look, big bro, you know that I love you. I want you to be happy. But instead of starting a family, all you care about is women. I want you to get your shit together and quit gawking at tits all day long." Turning my head toward the monitor, she pointed a finger at an icon that read "Careers". "These guys are looking for a location illustrator. This is your chance! Your drawings are amazing! And the Realm of Arkon..." Alyona swung her arms excitedly, "that project is already worth a hundred billion, and it's only picking up steam. If you put in even five years there, you'll be set for life."