• 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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Chapter 29: The Price of Freedom

Chapter 29: The Price of Freedom

Pain… that was the first sense to return to me, this pain felt different than what I was used to. It was sharper, much more pronounced and prolonged. My whole body ached and throbbed like a full body cramp, my body just one massive wound up spring waiting to release. My next sense to return was my sense of touch and this only heightened the pain as I started to feel my limp head being dragged across the rough stone floor. My head felt like it was full of cotton, it took me a while to actually focus enough to open my eyes. My first attempt didn’t yield any results, a rougher tug across the floor showed me why. My right eye was almost swollen shut and it burned with a ferocity that would make soap in the eye feel tame in comparison.

I took a shuddering breath and tried again, this time succeeding in opening my left eye, I felt whatever was dragging me switch their grip on my back left leg and keep dragging me down the dark stone hallway. My eyes began to flick around faster and faster as the paralysis slowly began to wear off. I felt something in my neck pop as I was roughly grabbed by another set of hooves and lifted from the ground, the two swung me in the air for a moment before launching me bodily through the air. I landed hard on what felt like a set of chains, the pain muted slightly by the lingering poison in my system. I felt a stab of sadness at the lack of a bond connecting my mind to another, I hadn’t realized just how much I cherished my connection to Calcifer. That stab of sadness quickly became anger at my betrayal and that anger was just what I needed to force myself to my hooves. My body felt like it was moving in slow motion, every muscle tight and uncooperative. Thankfully magic doesn’t require movement, leaning up on my only cooperating leg I aimed up at the two decomposing guards and pulled upon my core, mana flowed up my horn and I got ready to fire… I didn’t even get that far.

My horn had barely begun to glow before a heavy horse shoe smashed into my jaw sending me to the floor again with a ringing in my head, I almost missed the heavy metal collar clasping around my neck and I would have if it wasn’t also followed by the feeling of my magic disappearing. My panic was sudden and uncontrollable, my body had such a visceral response to having my magic suppressed that I almost blacked out from my thrashing. Another heavy blow to the head actually stilled me long enough for me to get back in control, my mounting fear didn’t dissipate but I at least I wasn’t convulsing anymore.

“Hmm, it seems he still has some fight left in him… let’s change that” The hoarse phlegm filled voice rang hollow throughout the dungeon, I didn’t get far in deciphering where the voice came from before I was wrenched up from the floor by my mane. I bit my cheek to stop myself from grunting in pain but it was for naught as I was swiftly bucked in my chest. The taste of copper quickly filled my mouth as I bit through my cheek and tried to regain my breath, the red hot stabbing pain in my chest told me a few of my ribs were probably broken. I almost missed the moment I was dragged back up to my hooves before I was sent back to the ground by something wooden crushing my nose. My panic doubled as my struggle to breath intensified, my violent flailing against my captures slowed as I focused my efforts on getting air into my lungs. My deep heaving breaths echoed out in the room, my nose was completely crushed and I couldn’t breath! I could hear one of the corpse guards step closer and lean down to my ear and the same disgustingly hoarse voice was whispered into my ear.

“ Are you calm now?” I am in extreme pain right now but that did nothing to quell my anger and in a rare moment of spite I turned my head towards the voice… and spit the blood in my mouth in his face. Silence reigned for a moment and I heard the voice step away from me then the ruffling of cloth as I assumed they wiped my blood off their face. I gained a special sort of satisfaction at the irritated snort they let out, the retaliatory buck to the head was almost worth it. I felt a few of my teeth come loose in my mouth though I refused to spit them out while in front of the corpse guards and who I assume is their master.

“Just as he said… you’re more trouble than you’re worth, cut his horn off. He can still be used as a bargaining chip” The words ‘cut his horn off’ set off my panicked thrashing once again. The rotting hooves holding me were quick to restrain me. I punched, I kicked, hell I even bit one of them but the two were quickly overpowering me. This couldn’t be happening! This shouldn’t be happening! No! I refuse! This must-

“STOP!” and just like that… everything… stopped. The familiar feeling of the air freezing in my lungs and an unrelenting calm drowning out my fearful panicking. For the first time I relished in the sudden calm until I remembered what the cause of this stillness was.

All you had to do was ask ya’know

Well, don’t you have perfect timing…

I can’t really tell if you’re being sarcastic, I could leave if you want. Let you get back to your horn cutting…

NO! No… I'm sorry, I'm very thankful you came to help.

Now I don’t remember saying I was going to help you, this isn’t a charity. You haven’t even given me that offering I asked for, why should I help you…

I flinched mentally the moment the spirit brought up the offering. I’m sorry about that, I didn’t know if I could trust you. This time I'll promise to get you your offering.

No… A problem this dire will require a price just as big

W-what kind of price…

Hmmm… You and the other ‘Players’ are searching for a way to get back to earth, correct?

I felt a burst of dread that was quickly swallowed by the calm. Yes we are…

Well it wouldn’t do for a goddess’ only follower to disappear, your price is your ability to leave

What!

You heard me, the price for me saving your life would be your ability to go back to earth. You will become a denizen of this world permanently, I'll even let you keep your abilities and system. Aren’t I such a benevolent goddess

I-I was speechless, I wanted to bargain, to scream, to rage at the spirit for daring to suggest something like that… but I didn’t. Instead I really thought about my situation, I was currently trapped in a dungeon somewhere and was about to be disposed of. I have been beaten badly so even if they weren’t about to basically kill me, I-I might not survive my injuries. I have nothing to bargain with, I have nothing the spirit wants other than myself and even then… is it really that bad a deal?

My mind flashed back to those moments around the campfire with Morgana and David, the beautiful sight of the night sky, the stories shared and the laughter made. I thought back to the village where I was able to rally a people with a few words, a people who readily stood together against adversity. I… thought about my life back on earth, a family life that was emotionless and dead, the spanning divide between my old friends and I that was growing everyday. How bleak and grey my future there looked…

It seems you’ve made your choice

Yes, I accept…

Thank you, you don’t know how much this helps me… though I do have one more thing to ask of you

The solemn tone change of the spirit caught me by surprise, but I listened to her nonetheless.

I still need that offering from you, only now I know what I want you to give me… I want him

My eyes moved outside of my own control, forcefully opening ignoring their swollen state. Thankfully there was no pain, my eyes were directed to a pony who looked like the dictionary definition of greed. There wasn’t an inch of his body that was covered in golden ornaments or jewelry, even his face was just one complete solid gold facemask.I couldn’t see his mane or coat at all under the extremely over the top suit. The mask was smooth and free of any filigree or designs, just smooth metal only broken by two slits that served as the pony’s eye holes.

To be more specific, I want his magic. There is actually a book of rudimentary rituals somewhere in this mansion, one of the rituals can tear the magic and soul of a pony out and store it in a gem. That is your goal and I expect it to be done

Yes… Goddess

Good boy, now… time to set things right

And just like that, time began to reverse. I felt my injuries fade one by one as they were inflicted in reverse until I was being dragged back out of the cage and I was sent back into unconsciousness.


Death was something Calcifer never had to fear while they were connected to their creator father Markus, of course there were times where they would get discorporated during battle but that was only temporary and far from permanent. Ever since Calcifer was given life by their father, everything has been fantastic. There were a few rough spots of course and there were times where Calcifer wasn’t sure what was going on but they were just happy to be included. Calcifer had learned about a certain thing that happens a moments before you die, it was called a ‘Life Review’. It had floated up through our bond after one of our much more brutal battles and it made them think… Calcifer’s life review would be pretty short right?

That was apparently the furthest from the truth, as Calcifer drifted further away from their father as their bond was snapped. Calcifer’s mind drifted through their life and just like they thought before, it quickly caught up to the present… though it didn’t stop like they thought. Images of moments that could happen in future began to bubble up, Markus bringing Calcifer to the movies for the first time, Markus teaching Calcifer how to ride a bike, reading Calcifer a bedtime story. Emotions previously unfelt broiled within Calcifer as they felt thereself begin to fade.

Well, aren’t you an interesting one, I don’t think I've even seen a wisp progress this far…

Calcifer’s confusion was quickly overshadowed by his begging, nay pleading for the voice to help their father. Calcifer has never felt more wholeheartedly about anything else except for this one thing, PLEASE HELP HIM!

You would ask me to save your master instead of yourself… maybe you’re just what I need to tip the scales back

Calcifer felt a cold tendril of something reach into his very being and grab hold of something, with what felt like a quick twist something finally fell into place. All of Calcifer’s fear of death disappeared, as the core of his very being turned into ash in the wind, as the final embers of Calcifer’s consciousness fizzled away they did not fear. After all… death is not the end for Calcifer… merely a new beginning.

It was upon wings of fire and determination did Calcifer ascend and that determination was directed towards the mansion before them. With a rapturous cry Calcifer soared… Their father needed them.

Author's Note:

Well then... This will be interesting

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