The Beginning And Ending
“And Welcome Back Folks. We have managed to get our top reporter into the throne room itself.”
A white furry hand appears in front of the footage giving a thumbs up before disappearing back behind the camera. The camera moves to give a wide view of the throne room. What would normally be an opulent large room instead seems abandoned, large banners were torn or missing and several of the large pillars in the room had been toppled and shattered.
At the far end of the room on a raised platform was a throne. A black construct that seems out of place like it was once the possession of a demon king. Sitting on the throne, out of place from the black stone, was a brilliant golden crown.
“And this is what you have all been waiting for.” The voice of the announcer continued.
“The battle between the Dragon Knight of the Forgotten Saviors and the Silver Shield of the Guardian Lions. Everything is on the line here folks, the winner gets to keep the Crown and the right to rule Gwiazda.”
The camera began to zoom in toward the throne getting a better picture of the two figures that were facing each other.
The Dragon Knight was a man wearing dark crimson armor. Sprouting from his back was a set of equally red wings and coming out from his helmet was a pair of red horns. The final piece was the red scaled tail that came out from the back of his armor. His armor fit his dragon-like physique, layers of plated armor that looked like they were large red scales.
In his hands was a large spear. Unlike his armor the weapon was in a different style. It was made of a metal with a purple tint and the head was carved like a grotesque face. The warped length of the handle made it looks like the spear would be difficult to wield but the Dragon Knight carried it like it was the most natural thing.
The Silver Shield was opposite him, in many ways. Like her name suggested she carried a large silver shield which was polished to the point where it was almost a mirror. In her other hand she held a long sword which has many jewels studded along its length.
Her armor did not consist of plates of metal but instead silver-blue chainmail which she wore under a tabbard showing the crafts of the Guardian Lions. Her shoulder length black hair was held back by a golden circlet that she wore instead of a helm.
They stood on guard facing each other.
Another voice came over the broadcast, the other host, “Who do you think is going to win? My money would be on the Dragon Knight. The Forgotten Saviors are elites among elites and he is the leader of them. Plus his ability to flight would give anybody a run for their money.”
“I won’t count the Silver Shield out. She has an incredibly defensive build and if the battle becomes one of endurance then she will certainly come out on top. If the Dragon Knight wants to win then he needs to do it quickly and decisively.”
The camera had gotten closer to the two warriors, although still far enough way to avoid getting caught up in the inevitable conflict.
“Drake…” Came a voice, Silver Shield was speaking. “It has been a long time. I didn’t take you for a man who wanted to become king.”
“Gardenia, I see that you are still playing at guild leader. You used to be a lot more fun, and wild. After you lose I would be happy to take you back into the Forgotten Saviors, assuming you promise to stop being so stuffy.” Responded the Dragon Knight.
“I see you still haven’t changed. My answer has been the same at it previously was. Besides,” She smirked, “You are the one who is going to lose this battle.”
There was some minor shifts of their feet, inching toward each other.
Meanwhile the announcer spoke, “Did I hear that right? That the Silver Shield used to be a member of the Forgotten Saviors?”
“What?” Came a surprised response from the co-host, “You mean you don’t know about their history? This conflict has been a long time in the making, those two have been at odds for ages. While all that has happened between them it would be no stretch to say that this is their final and most important battle.”
“So how…” The announcer broke off suddenly, unable to continue his thoughts. Whatever the two has been waiting for, it has passed.
Drake, the Dragon Knight leaped backwards and up, and with flapping of his wings lifted up off the ground into the air. Gardenia the Silver Shield however did not give him the moment he needed to get airborne and rushed forward, her sword stretched out attempting to reach him before he got airborne.
The two hosts were silenced by the speed and strength of the two fighters, the pentacle of the game. The two that had come so far and had crossed so many times before….
Chapter #1 — Times Before
It was a little bit over two years ago. It was the release day of Annals. Gardenia, the player who would one day be known as the Silver Shield, is logging into the game for the first time. Her hair was longer than, reaching down to below her shoulder blades and she wore simple clothing that would suit a medieval peasant.
In the real world her appearance would be described as beautiful however here in Annals those kind of looks were a dime a dozen. Out of glowing pillars of light all around her were other beautiful people, men and woman, arriving in the game for the first time. In face if you had to provide a distinguishing trait for her appearance it would be her black hair, it was practically normal compared to the many other people that surrounded her.
Still she didn’t seem to be bothered by any of that. Instead she seemed excited to begin her adventure. She had in her hands a plain wooden rod, a classic piece of starting equipment. She looked around and followed the other players.
They had all arrived in a large plaza. Surrounding the plaza was a bunch of houses, most of which were only one story but here and there was a larger two story building. As Gardenia followed the other players out of the village she noticed that the town itself was not very large. Maybe a hunded houses but that would be it.
As she reached the edge of the town there was a large sign pointing away from the town. It read, “Trezy”. While that seemed to be the way that the road lead outside the city was a large lightly forested area. The players were scattering out into the forest rather than following the road.
There were a lot of players standing around a stern looking man wearing some kind of guard uniform. You could hear him talking to the crowd of people in front of him.
“The tunnel to Trezy is closed. A large monster has taken it over as it’s home. Until the monster is dealt with you will not be able to travel to Trezy.”
Some of the people around the man whispered, “A monster? Is this a quest? Surely this must be a quest.”
“I hear that during the beta the path to the main city was locked off until some dungeon was beaten.”
“No, this is just part of the free-roam tutorial right? If you aren’t strong enough to beat the monster then you haven’t learned enough to leave the tutorial zone.”
There was some nodding all around from the players surrounded the guard. One of the men, a man with spiky green hair, called out to the guard and said, “So, what if we beat that monster?”
The guard looked over and shook his head saying, “You are two weak to fight that monster, even if there were two dozen people as strong as you then you would not stand even a sliver of a chance against the monster.”
There was more whispering, “Two dozen? Does that mean this is a raid boss?”
“In the beta, I heard you only needed a full team to reach the next town.”
“Maybe they increased the requirement? I hear the number of people in the beta was quite small.”
Gardenia had already lost interest in the conversation with the guard. She had a staff and the will to fight whatever monsters were out there in the forest so she left behind the arguing players and heading off the road into the forest.
She passed players fighting the most classic of starting enemies, rabbits. These ones had large fangs although they didn’t seem to be much of a threat. Players were fighting them alone, or maybe in a team of two and nobody seemed to be having much trouble dealing with them.
As each of the rabbits died even more rabbits came out of the little burrows at the root of many of the trees. The spawn rate seemed rather hight for Gardenia but since it was still literal the first day the spawn rate was probably artificially high.
Soon enough Gardenia has found a rabbit of her own. She approached it cautiously before holding out her short rod toward the animal. She had watched the promotional videos so she had a basic idea of how to proceed.
She called out, “Fire Shot” And in the space of the moments of those words a small ball of fire appeared at the end of her rod and then fired out toward the rabbit. It ended up missing the rabbit by several feet. The fanged rabbit turned toward her and began bouncing, rather slowly, toward her.
As it got neared she called out the words again “Fire Shot”. Once again the small ball of fire appeared and shot toward the rabbit and once again she missed the creature. Her third shot managed to hit the poor animal but by that point the creature was already practically at point blank range.
Despite her knowledge that there weren’t any death penalties this early in the game she still took several frightened steps back away from the rabbit. Even if it was just a rabbit it was still trying to kill her and despite her long experience playing other games the sheer realness of the virtual reality made her uncertain.
Swinging her rod back and forward in front of her however was enough to defeat the animal. One of the swings managed to connect and send the small animal to the ground. Gardenia took a few calming breaths before leaning down next to the body of the rabbit.
When she did this a small screen appeared in front of her vision, almost breaking the illusion of the other world. One of the options was “Quick Loot”. She said those words and the window disappeared and the rabbit broke appeared into glowing digital fragments and then those fragments disappeared.
Despite the relatively acceptable results of her first fight she know that she had been a bit too reckless. It probably would have been better to get a feeling for how magic worked before getting directly into a fight.
Avoiding several more fanged rabbits she found a large rock jutting out of the ground. She took several paces away from it before calling out “Fire Shot”. The ball appeared and once again shot out. This time she managed to miss a rock.
She looked around seeing if anybody noticed her shameful display. Her face was beet red but all the other players seem to be engrossed in fighting their own rabbits. After composing herself she took several more shots at the rock. It took about a dozen shots but she finally managed to figure out how to aim the little fire ball.
It was like her rod was a gun and the fireball shot directly where it was pointing. However the ball seems to arc and fall just enough that hitting things at long distance was hard.
There was a little jingle and a message showed up in a message screen.
“Magic — Fire [Basic] reached level 2.”
She called out “Show Skills” and a screen appeared in front of her vision.