“It’ll take more than that to kill me, boy.”
Xelias spun around. He’d put 10,000 damage into this guy, what the hell was going on?
“Shadow armor. Absorbs 75% of all damage I take without reducing durability. Neat, huh?”
“If you say so.” This wasn’t what he’d planned for. He needed to end this quickly and get after the rest of the party before they reached any other players. With a flick of his right hand, he opened his menu and began going through the requip process by muscle memory, keeping his eyes on the other player.
“Oh, you’re grabbing health potions? That’s not gonna help you much.”
“I’m not getting potions. I’m getting my weapon.” The scythe appeared slung across his back like it always did. He pulled it off and readied it. “I advise you to run.”
“A scythe? Really? You’re not gonna scare me with that, the REAL Angel of Death is over on Floor 35 fighting-” He stopped talking abruptly when he saw the deep blue glow the blade was making. “No. That’s impossible. You’re on Floor 35! You can’t be here!”
“I told you to run.” Thane of Decimation triggered, and Xelias moved in.
He caught up with the rest of the party just as they were surrounding a group of players. Thank God for the tree line, he thought. He waited for the players in the cornered group to look sufficiently terrified, then vaulted out of the tree he was in to land in front of them. Shortly, SAO would be short four more red players that no one important would miss.
“Oh, look. It’s some kid who thinks he can scare us by pretending to be the Angel of Death,” said the one in front.
Xelias straightened up, pretending to look dejected. “You got me. I’m such a big pretender, I even have one of THESE.” He held up the sword the first player had had on him.
“Uh, boss?” asked one of the others. “That looks a lot like-UNH!” Both his “boss” and Xelias had stuck their weapons into him at the same time.
Scythe skills were fun. They sliced up monsters, scared other players shitless, and they even healed him. Well, only when they resulted in a kill. But when you have a skill like Thane of Decimation, he thought, nearly 90% of your hits result in kills. So it’s not that bad of a stipulation.
Right now, his scythe skills were going to do all three. These players were definitely monsters, in every sense of the word. Xelias really wasn’t sure why they hadn’t joined Laughing Coffin, but it didn’t make a difference to him.
At any rate, the damage from two high-level weapons at once proved to be too much for the henchman. He evaporated, a look of surprise on his face. “I believe that will be the only time I ever agree with a red player about anything,” Xelias said smugly.
“Go to hell, you bastard!” yelled the leader, raising his sword. His remaining two goons hefted their weapons.
Xelias was faster. Dashing forward, he went under his opponent’s right arm, hitting the goon behind him with Circuit. The ending motion of this basic scythe skill was conveniently the setup move for Cathartic Reaver, and Xelias hit the player with that skill, too. Jumping straight up, he easily evaded the sword strike the leader had aimed at him, and brought his scythe down onto the other grunt’s head. Apparently this second grunt was a tough guy in appearance only: he evaporated instantly, and Xelias hadn’t even used a skill on him. Letting go of his scythe with his left hand, he performed a one-handed handspring to land back on his feet, facing the gang leader.
“Woah, man, stop! We didn’t mean any harm!” the player said quickly, throwing up his hands.
“I see a group of terrified players and a red cursor above your head that say different,” Xelias spat back. “Don’t worry. This won’t hurt, but only because the game doesn’t allow you to feel pain.”
“You talk too much,” the other player said, charging forward.
Thane of Decimation, remarkably, didn’t one-hit the red gang’s leader. Of course, this didn’t matter, since any entity damaged by the skill was paralyzed for five seconds: plenty of time to kick his weapon away and finish the job. “I talk to distract you from what skill I’m triggering. Looks like it worked. Oh, do me a favor? Send a postcard from Hell. Let me know if Dante was right about the ice thing.” Slash.
The frightened group of players had scattered as soon as he’d landed in front of them: they were long gone by now. Turning to collect the items from the gang, Xelias was greeted by a system message. “Yunikandra’s items have been transferred to his wife’s inventory.”
Well, this wasn’t good. The gang leader, whose name was apparently “Yunikandra”, had been wearing a cloak that, in the event of its wearer’s death, gains as a permanent part of its stats, a ten-second video playback of the events leading up to the event that caused its wearer to die. The entire encounter, from when he’d stabbed the first grunt to when he’d killed the leader, was recorded in the information on the cloak. And anyone who had married a career red player was without a doubt a red player themselves. Yunikandra’s wife would no doubt be coming for revenge.
As much as he hated to admit it, Xelias knew he was going to have to find backup.