• Published 24th Nov 2020
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Level Up! - RisuUmbra

A new MLP MMO turns death game as the players are sucked into what they assume is the game... not as fun as you'd think

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Ch 10: In Which to Take a Life

Chapter 10: In Which to Take a Life

I thought that now that we had a plan to act on, it would be easier. Then I remembered that the six of us were surrounded by over fifty panicking and traumatized players. Our first move was to address everyone and explain our plan and let me tell you… it was like herding cats. Most of the players were already watching all of us like hawks but, the moment we actually turned to address them the flood gates just burst wide open. The previously quiet was viciously ripped away as what sounded like every single player started yelling questions at us simultaneously. It felt like high school rallies all over again, just everyone yelling and talking over one another and none of us could make them quiet down or get a word in edgewise. So many different colored players were shoving each other out of the way while they tried to speak to one of us. I even had to separate a few of them with my levitation when small fights started to break out. My mounting frustration reached a head when a green earth pony player separated from the crowd and aggressively charged at Morgana. Now I’ve said it once I’ll say it again, I am no white knight. I’m not courageous or brave enough to just jump into danger without prompting… forest notwithstanding. But when I saw a player charge my friend with what seems to be the intent to harm… to put it lightly I was not pleased. Though to be perfectly honest, this guy probably isn’t even a threat to Morgana. She could and would buck this guy into the dirt but, that might make our situation worse.

“Stop!” I knew I wouldn’t be able to run between the charging player and Morgana in time so I tapped into one of my new spells. When it comes to the differences between the [Teleport] spell and the [Blink] spell, they actually span quite a few pages but the largest difference would be the fact that while [Teleportation] is space magic, [Blink] is beginner Arcane magic like my [Mana Control] skill so I was much more proficient with it. The spell itself worked like a slingshot, an almost invisible to the naked eye beam of magic shot and landed between the two ponies and like a magnet it pulled me along with it. Just like it’s namesake the actual travel over was like blinking and suddenly I was between the two, the sudden landing gave me a bit of vertigo though. My sudden disappearance and reappearance caught many players off guard, especially the changing player who actually hadn't slowed down. With a sizable chunk of my mana I pushed my levitation to its limit and grabbed hold of the earth pony and lifted him. After my move the plains were rendered silent once more as everyone watched me, I could tell that what I did next would determine whether or not they would listen to us.

“Are you calm?” My silver aura didn’t impede the movement of the lifted player at all, yet he was frozen still. After a moment he realized I was speaking to him and quickly answered me with frantic nodding.

“Good” And with that I slowly lowered him back to the ground while trying not to let the strain show on my face, that stunt had drained me of all of my mana. The blink itself actually only took a sliver of mana to use but I feel it will take more at longer distances or when used over and over. Once the player’s hooves softly met the ground and my silver aura had left him, he fell to his haunches and started taking deep breaths to calm himself while a few other players came over to try and help steady him. Taking my eyes off him I realized something pretty distressing, the crowd wasn’t watching all of us anymore… just me. I had their undivided attention and it made my heart feel like it was about to explode, a glance over at the other five just gave me Aaron giving me a rolling motion with his hoof to get on with it. So I did what I usually did with troublesome emotions, I stuffed them away and spoke.

“I’m sure you all have many questions and I’m doubly sure that you all are almost at your breaking point after everything that’s happened so far. But as you all could probably tell, we’re not exactly in the safest area at the moment” I punctuated that statement by gesturing at the dark rolling smoke clouds in the distance drawing everyone's attention to it. “ My name is Marcus and I am just as afraid as you are, but if all of us want to get through this then we can’t turn on each other” That seemed to inject a healthy amount of guilt into the crowd as many player’s heads drooped when their prior behavior was brought to light. When I was sure most of the player’s attention had returned to me, I started to walk over to Aaron and the five pegasi’s side.

“Now, we have a plan to get through this particular problem. A few of our Pegasus players have volunteered to fly out and scout out any nearby towns or threats. It gonna take a while for them to return so in the meantime, I want you all to settle down and consolidate your skills. Those skills may be the key to all of us surviving in this new world and maybe even returning home, so use your skill point carefully and if you have any questions feel free to ask any of us. We will be happy to try and shed some light on as many problems as we can” My throat was starting to hurt from talking so much, I think that is the most I've spoken in the past week or so. Aaron seems to have taken me finishing up as his que to start organizing the pegasi, I nudged David a bit to get his attention. He was still looking out into the crowd searching for threats, and said crowd had calmed down immensely and had started to disperse into their groups again aside from a few who I assume had questions.

“ Hey, did you put any points into [Flying]?” David seemed to relax immensely now that the threat of an angry mob wasn’t hanging over his head like a guillotine.

“Yeah, I used both points last night. It’s weird, pegasi shouldn’t be able to fly, but because of magic they can make themselves lighter than air” David actually seemed pretty interested in the mechanics and potential of what I assume is Pegasus flight magic which is good, have something good and interesting to focus on during these times will be good for him.

“Great, we can talk more about that later. Right now though, you need to go with Aaron and the other pegasi and scout out a town for us… and try to keep an eye out for bandits or something” Already seeming to know the severity of his task, David put a serious look on his face and have me an understanding nod before turning to go join the other five pegasi.

“Morgana, you alright?” My scarlet maned companion hadn’t moved from her spot behind me and when I finally turned to check on her, the look she was giving wasn’t exactly… pleased.

“I could have taken him y’know? While I do appreciate you looking out for me, I can take care of myself. I’m not as helpless as you two are making me out to be” Morgana’s annoyance caught me off guard and actually brought my thoughts to a halt. Now that I think about it, Morgana might be the most self sufficient person in our group. She figured out how to cook and forage in her new body before either of us could and she can hold her own in a fight.

“I-I’m sorry, but at the time a fight would have just made this whole thing worse. You’re right about how we've been treating you though, I won’t butt into every problem like that anymore. Unless you ask for help, I'll let you solve your own problems.” I can’t solve every problem and not everything is my business, my apologetic admittance seemed to be what Morgana had wanted and with a now happy smile that told me that there were no hard feelings she went to approach the few waiting players who had questions.

And just like that, all was calm. David and the other pegasi had split off in teams of two to search the area, David’s team flew directly away from the forest edge while the other two teams followed the tree line in opposite directions. Eric, Aaron, and Morgana were preoccupied speaking to other players and trying their best to answer their questions, the only one other than me who wasn’t doing anything was Sarah. Who had separated herself from the main crowd of players and obviously didn’t want to talk to anyone. Not having anything pressing to do even for a moment, felt weird. I considered looking through my menus again, but I remember that to everyone else I just looked like I was staring into space… though to be fair that’s what most of the other players are doing right now.

“E-excuse me?” My heart jumped to my throat for a moment, I was so stuck in my head that I didn’t even notice a player had walked up. It was a dark purple coated unicorn who actually didn’t have a mane, like it was roughly sheared off. There were a few locks of hair still left on his head in a few places though the lack of a mane just brought more attention to his bright amber eyes.

“Sorry to bother you, but you're pretty good at m-magic right?” I was suddenly very glad that the first question I got was one I could answer, that was how I spent the next few hours. A few other unicorns had wandered over and joined the conversation, the main topic bounced around. Starting with magic and its basic functions and how to control it, to ideas on how all this is happening. Some ideas were pretty funny and actually helped lighten the fluctuating mood, one idea was that everyone here had been kidnapped and hooked up to some kind of SAO type machine. It got a bit awkward when a few of the more religious players started debating whether their God was punishing them or wanted their help, the other players in the discussion group seemed really uncomfortable with the idea of bringing a higher power into discussion and just when it seemed like they were going to try and pull me into the borderline argument I was saved by the bell. In more specific terms, I was saved by the wings.

“They’re back!” The raised voice of Eric quickly sounded out after the sound of beating wings filled the air, turning my sights to the skies. I could barely see a team of two returning quickly, turning back to the large group of about twenty or so unicorns I gestured for them to follow as I ran back to the meeting point and judging by the sound of many hooves hitting the ground behind me they followed.

“Team three is back first!” Team three is the team that went along the tree line towards the large smoke cloud, I wasn’t expecting any good news from the two of them. Now that the two had flown closer I could see that they looked much more rough than when we sent them off.

“It is way worse than we thought!” The first one to speak was sky blue with a grey mane, the other Pegasus was just a solid white on both his mane and coat. Both pegasi were wearing the same haunted look, the white one even looked like he was going to be sick judging from the green tint on his muzzle.

“There is like an army of bandits staying in that town and they looked like they were getting ready to leave again!” Yeah, we’re definitely not going that way. Judging from the looks Aaron and Eric were sending each other they thought the same, maybe it wasn’t a good idea to have these other players follow me… I just realize I know none of their names.

“Incoming!” This was a voice I recognized instantly, David’s far off voice still reached our ears and pulled out attention back to the skies where both of the groups were returning from the same direction. The four pegasi all stumbled on their landing, but quickly recovered and at first I was glad that all of them were okay until I saw the alarmed look on David and his partners face.

“We both found a village, but one of them is about to be under attack! We saw a group of bandits head to the smaller one we found” For the love of-! Calm… The bandits probably sent a forward group to subdue the smaller town or something, we could probably just travel to the other town and avoid… Why is everyone looking at me?

“S-should we help…?” I-I don’t want to kill anybody! Non-human or not, but if I just ignore some people that need our help… What kind of example am I setting. This is another of those moments, if we're going to survive here then we're gonna need the help of the general populace.

“We’ll send our own team of fighters to go help the village, players who are experienced in combat and are willing to… do what is needed. While that team goes to help, everyone else will be led to the larger town to send some help the villagers way… understood” Many of the players nodded along to my plan, but none of them stepped forward to be part of the rescue team. I already have a feeling who’s going to be chosen to go… It seems both David and Morgana got the same feeling as well as David schooled his expression and started to adjust his swords and Morgana let out an irritated sigh before beginning to stretch for the run ahead.

“The hoard of bandits will most likely follow after their strike team in most likely a day, so this gives us plenty of time to get you all to the larger town and request help from the locals… let it be known that we cannot tell anyone about our true origins. As we don’t know if that will be good or bad for us… for all we know they might pull a MIB and take us all away, try and make up a story as to why none of us have a cutie mark and stick to it. We’ll try and get through this together” The knowledge that they were getting back to civilization(albeit an alien one) brought the moral way up, the previously haunted and depressed looks turned hopeful and happy. Smiles bloomed all around us and while I was slightly glad I was able to inject a bit of hope back into the crowd, the feeling was overshadowed by the deep fear that… I might have to kill someone soon. I wasn’t the only one facing a moral quandary like this as all six of us mirrored each other.

“We all know it’s gonna be you three…” Eric didn’t sound the least bit relieved about not having to go, Sarah took a few steps towards me and stared at me for a moment before starting to shrug off her ragged cloak.

“You’ll need this more than me” I was about to protest, but whatever I was about to say was cut short as she threw the cloak into my face. I sputtered and tried to take the cloak of my face and give it back, but when I tried to grab it with my levitation I felt what made this torn piece of fabric so special. The moment my aura touched it, it was like it solidified and was much easier to move around. If my normal levitation was akin to enforcing my will onto something then this was like making something an extension of my will. My magical dexterity was much smoother and refined, the amount of mana I expended actually went down.

“Whoa! This is… thank you!” I would be a fool to refuse this, especially when we’re going out to fight. I quickly put it on with some assistance from Sarah who was familiar with the straps and buckles, the cloak itself was thin so it didn’t weigh me down much and because of the tear at the bottom my legs were free to move meaning it was intentional. The thought of magical equipment and items didn’t really occur to me, now that we're about to get to civilization we could get items that might boost our attributes. My thoughts were interrupted by Aaron’s hoof meeting my shoulder.

“Marcus… Thank you, we’ll do our job then send some back up your way. See you on the other side” And with a firm nod he left to go organize the other players along with Eric who was speaking to Morgana and Sarah who sent me one last smile.

“David, lead the way” I wanted to get this done before I lost my nerve, David seemed to be made of sterner stuff when in the face of peril. I couldn’t see a flicker of hesitation in his eyes before he did a quick hop and a few flaps to send himself into the air. A glance towards Morgana only showed me just how ready she was, eyes narrowed and bag fastened she was ready to run. Taking another breath to steady myself and failing miserably, I tried to mirror my two friends' conviction.

“Let’s get this over with” And with that, we left.

Author's Note:

Yaay!:yay: another chapter, another moral quandary.
Poor Marcus is being forced to be social by peer pressure :trollestia:
I finished drawing David finally:

Hope you enjoy and sorry if some of the dialog or speeches are a bit long winded, a lot needed to be said in those moments.

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