I Was Just Sleeping Guys...

Come that nightfall I had made an attempt to look for Vader, but to no avail. As the only other non-sleeping member of the party, I was growing used to his company these past few nights, and had taken said company for granted, but it seemed I would have to endure this night alone. I decided to retire to my room, I had no idea why the Fletchers had gone through the trouble of setting one up for me, it wasn't as if I could make any use of it. As a "Metal-man" a warm bed meant almost nothing to me anymore. Entering the room, I observed that the place was rather cozily designed, not exactly extravagant and rather poor compared to a place one would consider luxurious, yet the sort of lived-in feel it gave off was just enough to render the place comfortable.

Decided on neglecting the bed, (I had no use for it), I decided to place my things on the blanket the covered the mattress. Standing there looking at the assortment of items, and honestly wanting something to do beside stand around all night, I spent an entire hour adjusting each item, moving my scabbard a bit to the right,then to the left, folding my cloak nice and proper, adjusting my sword a bit, before deciding to dispose of the damn thing due to it's poor condition, being snapped in half at all. Finally content, I sat myself down in a chair just aside from my bed. Lately, I had only been utilizing the in-game menu for the purpose of communication, I decided to explore it a bit more. Or I say that, but in actuality, I wouldn't explore much of anything.

Something I hadn't noticed before had caught my attention. Next to "Skills" was a red exclamation mark.

What's this?

Clicking, I found an overlay that in truth I was rather familiar with. It showed the skill trees associated with my class and specialization. What I hadn't been paying attention to was the currently full experience bar.

Then why the hell am I not leveling up?

I investigated further, searching the overlay until my sight happened upon a finely-printed hint, "Warforged must enter standby for at least 8 hours to level-up!"

Son of a bitch, that's right. No wonder...

Now, I knew that I swear I did, but remembering and implementing basic game knowledge proved rather difficult when you've been sucked into it and every encounter's a matter of life or death. I'd been too focused on trying to stay alive to worry about much else. Looking down at my patched chest plate, I felt I couldn't even say that I was doing a good job at that.

Having seen and fully absorbed this, my mind went to the next logical place. I found a skill called "Standby" and promptly activated it. My arms stiffened, locking in place as if I had just been hit with a paralyzation spell. In the real world, activating this spell meant it was time to take a break. I hadn't so much as experienced it in VR before, let alone as the character itself.

What followed was the most intense vertigo I had ever experienced. The room spun as the events of the past few days ran through my mind. Then there was that girl. This young little girl, I had absolutely no idea who she was, I was sure I'd never seen her before, but there she was. Between the dizziness and images, there were lapses of stagnant darkness. Things were moving too fast for me to process them, and the next thing I knew it all stopped.

Like any of my other experiences with time distortion, my senses flooded back to me overwhelmingly and suddenly. I found myself laying mummy-style in some sort of tightly confined space. Fighting the growing urge to panic, as being buried alive happens to be one of my greatest fears, I began to try and manipulate my arms in such a way that I might be able to punch out the top of the container. Fighting such a thing rather difficult, I began to struggle, hoping to shake myself free by chance. Okay, now I was panicking. As if to mock my growing terror, I heard a sort of chine, followed by an AR notification, 'Do Robots Dream: As a Warforged, enter standby for a total of 240 Hrs. +10% EXP gain from all sources.' Following that was a second chime, yet another Augmented Reality message, 'Congratulations! You have reached Level 34!'

I could feel the box swaying slightly and sliding across the ground, and I could have sworn I'd hear voices outside. So I wasn't buried, but that didn't make this experience any less comfortable.

"GET BACK, GET BACK!" I heard of a masculine voice. Was that Old Fletcher? Was I still in the Inn? The hell was I doing in a box?

Finally, I found some purchase in the form of arm space, my struggling seemed to be adequately breaking the box down. Drawing my arm back, I slammed it up into the ceiling of what seemed to be my coffin, the whole damn thing lurching upward, causing my head to bang against the floor as it hit the ground. Despite the minor trauma, I persisted, Punching and punching until I could see light. I drew my arm back one more time, determined that this next punch would be my last, and as my fist met open air it was so. I pressed against every interior face of the box, pushing as hard as I could. The outer shell cracked, and like an unexpectantly athletic metal chick, I burst out of my wooden rectangular egg. Looking up, I noticed Old Fletcher indeed, pointing a sword at me and holding a lantern with a shaking grip, droplets of sweat the size of peas dripping down his face. The children were stacked up at the foot of a flight of stairs, based on the lack of natural light in the room and the cobblestone composition of the walls, I surmised that I was now sat in the Fletchers' cellar.

I stood, brushing splinters off of myself. Mr. Fletcher still had yet to cease his aggression.

"Don't point that at me unless you intend to use it." I typed menacingly, before passing the man and taking the steps up.

"You're supposed to be dead."

I turned toward himself, pointing towards myself as if I was unsure who he was referring to.

What exactly the hell happened?

"The Elf, " He continued, " The Elf said you'd died in your...sleep."

Sighing silently, I decided to type the man a reply in the hopes he'd shut up.

"She was wrong. I'm alive."

The man followed behind me as I stormed through the building to my room, finding a neatly made bed bare of any of the items that had rested on it last night.

"Where at my things?" I said, turning to the man.

"They're in a chest...in the cellar."

Motherfu- okay, bet...

I resisted a facepalm, before collecting my self and returning to the cellar, removing my things from the chest there.

"Where have they gone off to?" I then typed, sliding into my cloak and trying it at the waist.

"The Fellowship? They left a few hours ago, East I believe, to some dungeon or another."

Just how long have I been "asleep"? We're going by "The Fellowship" now? What were we supposed to be, a charity service?

"Fine."

With that, I was out the door. I had wasted enough time. All this just for an EXP buff. I summoned my shadow steed, unconsciously grabbing for my blade and finding nothing. I Turned and eyed Fletcher's sword enviously.

"I need your sword."

Fletcher's expression was one of alarm.

"Why? What do you want with mine?"

Grrr, I don't have time for this!"

"I'm trying to save the world, and I can't do that without your sword. I'll return it."

The man eyed me with a skeptical expression, but thankfully my words seemed to have won him over and he handed over his sword.

"Thank you, I'll be back," I said finally, with absolutely no intention of returning. Now to head East. According to Fletcher, I was only a few hours behind. If I rode fast enough perhaps I could make some of that time up.


Fletcher frowned, exasperated as the Metal-man rode off.

"Ugh, remind me not to take in any more adventurers any time soon. More trouble than they're worth, those ones."


I rode only blatantly East, and even then, as the scenery slowly transitioned from green fields to a terrorscape filled with greys and blacks indicative of the presence of undeath, nothing less than a wicked blackened tower which stood in the distance though right in my path, I had a feeling that this was exactly the sort of place my party would dare venture to. This whole trip had to be at least a day at a normal pace. Looking upon the tower, if I had gotten there in an hour from now I would have done the whole trip in ten. Of course, I was but restless, and looking to make amends for my earlier mishap. It was Mere that did the heavy lifting. Her endurance knew no bounds.

Now seemed the perfect time to investigate my new stats and skills. There were flat increases across the board, as one would expect from a level up, however, I was no able to choose a new active skill. Looking over my choices, I decided on an aggressive skill that would allow me to do more damage in a smaller amount of time, therefore upping my average DPS. The skill read: Issen - An attack faster than a flash, just like in the movies. Base Dmg+ 200% Damage

That'll help. Now just to get there, I thought, bringing Mere up to her full speed.


As was planned it was Artimis who crossed the bridge ahead of the others the sound of a great bell sounding once for each member of the party as they crossed some unseen threshold. And yet even as the sound of the bell faded no attack came and all was stillness and quiet as they cleared the open gates into the ancient courtyard and there a measure further a set of stone steps and at the top a great double door.
It was only then that the great gate began to slowly decent offering the fearful ample time to escape before the spikes at the bottom sunk into the earth.
Silence and darkness followed than for the longest time until the sound of a small rock sounded at the base of the wall. All eyes moving upwards to behold the walls on all four sides were adorned in in unmoving stone statues of demons and fanciful monsters … only after a moment, it became clear that many of them were moving and that as the fellowship stared into the darkness. Countless pairs of red glowing eyes stared back.
" Gargoyles … " Cyndel announced what everyone was already thinking. " A lot of fucking Gargoyles."
" Shit." Someone else said just before the stonework creatures screamed in one unholy voice taking to the air.

The hell? I questioned, hearing the tolling of the bell, followed by screeches, though they sounded more like eerie sound effects than a combat encounter. Either way, I realized I had just about caught up to the others by now, after tireless riding for so long. Thank god my steed knew undeath, a mortal horse would have surely perished before the end of this trip.

My blade now hung at my side as I eyed the open gate. From my distance, I could now make out my companions battling against what seemed to be grey winged beasted. However, there was something amiss. I wanted to smile at that moment, my nap seemed to have done wonders on my spirits.

"This battle's short one badass robot samurai!"

I stood atop the back of my horse, aiming her right for Vader, who seemed, as usual, to be in a blood-fueled rage. Having just dispatched a couple other of what I could now make out as gargoyles, he stood ready for another foe, and his wish was being granted in the form of a bloodthirsty gargoyle dive-bombing straight for him at seemingly sub-sonic speed. It wasn't nearly fast enough, though. Just before it could hope to meet its end at the hands of the Dread Knight, I propelled myself from Mere's back, leaping into the air as athletically as Warforged-ly possible, blade firm in my grip. It was time to try out my new skills.

ISSEN

There was a bright blue metallic flash as my blade cut into the gargoyle. Rather than slam into the Dread Knight, it slammed into the slammed with a thud, as opposed to my skidding landing, crouching to bear the force of the touchdown. The gargoyle made a feeble attempt to stand once more, physically it seemed unfazed by the attack, however, this was not the case. It simply had failed to realize that it was already dead. It let out a growl before going stiff, mouth wide and stony teeth bared, though it's menacing display only carried half the effect, literally, because the other half of it's face was no longer attached to it.

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/e0/54/7e/e0547ec739904b54e557978710e2d64d.gif

Satisfied with the strength of my new skill, I nodded to Vader, who according to Fletcher must have thought I was dead prior to this moment.

"I don't plan on joining you in undeath any time soon, friend."

With that, I dispelled Mere, who at the moment was stomping on what was a gargoyle and what was now a pile of vaguely ghoul-shaped stone, before sizing up my next target. I had questions for the others, and I was sure the inverse was true, but no one was going to be asking anything until these damn monsters were dealt with. It was time to draw blood, figuratively of course.

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