It felt like the darkness was smothering them, as they wandered through the labyrinthine tunnels. The blanket of blindness often seemed impenetrable, if it weren't for the occasional glowing mushroom, Setra would've felt like she would never see anything again. She and her friends crept along, forced into single-file by the narrow passages, and making slow progress due to the need to shuffle forward through the stale air and spooky darkness.
She was glad that her friends were so loud as they explored the thin passages. The light clinking of chainmail coming from Archon was nothing compared to the thunderous clonks, bonks, and booms created by the man in full plate armour ahead of her.
He was taller than any of the others in their group, forcing him to stoop underneath the rocky ceiling.
The constant clangs of metal and light curses of the mail-clad man in front, reassured Setra for some reason. Though she doubted his wisdom due to his choice to wear the heavy armour.
His name was Nihilus, and he was her best friend. Rarely seen without his purple and red suit of armour, he was powerfully built and had a kindly-looking face that was often hidden underneath his horned helm, as was his head of unruly, candy-red hair.
Though none of those features were currently visible, due to the darkness.
The constant noise that his tromping and traipsing created, was infuriating and relentless. But nobody dared to complain about it. Why? Because it was Nihilus who made the noise.
Nihilus was the kind of person who commanded respect. He was not cut from the same stone as the rest of the riff-raff that made up their group. He was a masterful combatant, and while not violent tempered, he lived his life as if he were in a constant daydream, and he was more than happy to introduce anybody who broke the illusion to his gauntlet-encased fists.
Despite this authority over the group of misfits, he was far from the leader. That job was shared by two people.
The first: Archon, while he was almost unanimously disliked by everyone for some reason or another, he gained recognition for being able to organise and coordinate people like a pro.
The second: Luther, was a smooth-talking, son of a gun. He was charismatic and convincing, although unpredictable. He was prone to wasting everybody's time on ridiculous tangents, and so needed to be balanced out by Archon's rigid objectives.
The only other person with them on that day was Roion, whom everybody considered to be a bumbling fool of a rogue that balanced his glaringly obvious incompetance at any kind of task, with being the most likeable member of the party.
And so, because of thier reluctance to awaken the sleeping giant, as it were, they settled for a trip made agonisingly long by the irritating noises emitted by what was possibly their only competant fighter, and intensified by the lack of visual distractions as they wandered through the blanket of blindness.
The passageways were so narrow that they were forced to walk in single file. Archon had planned the order of the people in line perfectly. He had Roion walk in front, so that if a threat suddenly appeared, he could act as cannon fodder. Luther was second, so that he could not run off on his own, or lag behind without Nihilus grabbing a hold of him. Setra was situated directly behind the source of annoying clanking noises, simply because Archon wanted to annoy her, and Archon was safe and sound in the rear.
There was an overwhelming sense of relief as their odyssey through the tunnels came to an end.
An enormous shaft of blue light projected itself before them, clearly opening up into a large cavernous space.
The party crept forward, as quietly as possible, and each of them peered into the cavern.
At the opposite end of the cavern was a large table covered in red and green gemstones, and crowded around it was a group of humanoid figures.
They each had skin that was as black as coal, angry red eyes, and striking white hair.
Setra counted twelve of them, before she heard a solitairy "Oh shit."
The voice echoed into the cavern, alerting the malicious creatures within. They had all been thinking the exact same thing, Roion was just the only one stupid enough to say it. With groans of frustration, the group began to draw their weapons, mimicing their counterparts on the other side of the cave.
Nihilus shoved past Luther and Roion, becoming the first of either group to charge into the fray, he moved with unnatural speed inside his heavy mail. He bellowed out a warcry that sounded like it should have come from a rabid grizzly bear, and drew his blade: A gleaming scimitar the size of a small child, whilst lifting his odd diamond-shaped shield.
He was ready to butcher.
Archon was the next to join in, his bow drawn, quickly fired an arrow at one of the elves rushing forward. The arrow met its mark, and within a second the elf had sprouted a feathered shaft from his chest.
Roion took a place next to Archon, readying a pair of throwing knives. Setra grimaced, and made her own charge, trying to keep as much to the side as possible. Roion could throw more rapidly than Archon could fire arrows, but his knives flew in all directions, making him hazardous to everybody within his range.
Setra grinned when she encountered her first opponent. He was alone, as the others were either being felled by ranged attacks, or had foolishly engaged Nihilus.
She gripped her longsword with two hands and thrust forward with all the force she could muster, the elf knocked her blade askew with ease, but his eyes widened when he realised, all too late, that the real attack was yet to come. Setra's momentum carried her onwards, and she barged her way into the elf, resulting in both of them tumbling to the ground.
She quickly ensured that her opponent died, before risking a glance to try and determine what her friends were doing.
Nihilus had already eliminated four enemies, in the time it had taken Setra to kill one. But she wasn't surprised. He might've been swinging his scimitar, but the real danger came from his shield; Not many people expected you to thrust, shunt, and bash with a sheild as if it were a warhammer.
Setra swore, slightly louder than she intended, Luther wasn't anywhere in sight, and what was more, she had only gained a single kill!
Setra, regained her feet and chose her next target. Standing atop the gemstone-bearing table, was the only dark elf who had decided to fight with ranged weapon. She thought that he would be an easy kill, as he was currently engaged in an archer's duel with Archon. Each was trying to fire on the other whilst avoiding the missiles that came their way, requiring all the focus that they could muster.
She ran hard. She ran fast.
Sword held in her left arm, she tried to slash at the few melee-fighters that she passed on the way, but her attentions were on the archer.
The air seemed to turn into jelly as she neared the table. It felt like her movement was restricted, but she swung her sword with all of the might that she muster.
The blade of her sword passed through the air with ease, proving to Setra, that her hindered agility was simply a figment of her imagination. She glared at the enemy archer, and gritted her teeth as her sword bit through the table leg.
A cascade of brilliant gemstones hit the ground, the archer with them. He landed on his back, winded. Setra stood over him, feeling a haughty sense of superiority rush through her.
"You're welcome, Archon." She remarked as she plunged her blade into the body beneath her.
Ready to face her next foe, she turned around. She was glad that this time, she would be able to see her comrades, rather than being blind to their movements. Unfortunately, Luther was still nowhere to be seen. Had he run away? No. Luther never fled. Why would anyone run from a fight?
There was no time to consider the possibilities, though. As a dark elf was currently speeding towards her.
Setra howled out a battlecry that sounded freaky and primal to her own ears, before striking out at the elf.
He was clad in some kind of rough, uneven armour. It was a faded red and it looked like some kind of carapace. Consquently, it's wearer looked like a humanoid crab.
In one hand, he held a small war axe. In the other, a jagged shield that seemingly matched his armour.
He parried every one of Setra's attacks perfectly. Every time she hurled an attack at him, his shield would appear between his body and her blade.
If she tried to trip him, he would simply hurl himself forwards, forcing her away.
She had to attack constantly. If he got the chance to swing his axe, he would do his best to lodge it into her body.
He had to be tiring.
Of course, he had to be.
Wait what? Setra's eyes widened when the Crab-warrior's sheild failed to block her attack. Instead, his limbs seemed to freeze, and his body hit the ground with a crash.
Before her, Luther stood tall. His fists were raised as if he were boxing. But instead of gloves, his fists were covered in what looked like cumbersome blocks of steel. The surface of each one sported a myriad of spikes and short, vicious, blades.
"Where have you been?!" She demanded.
"Where have I been?! I was killing people. Unlike you." He retorted. "Now go and defend Archon. Roion is dead and the enemy is trying to take him down too."
Setra shot him a look of indignance. "Archon can look after himself. I'm fighting in the fray." She turned away from him, feeling annoyed, and began to stalk towards her next target.
"Setra!" Luther yelled. "Go back there and defend Archon! He needs help, and you aren't making much of a difference up here." He indicated Nihilus, who was quite literally standing on a pile of corpses.
She gave him nothing more than a pointed look.
"Setra. Go. Now."
She huffed and stomped over to Archon, while Luther rushed to aid Nihilus.
Why couldn't he defend Archon himself? Why did it have to be her? Why did it have to be Archon?
She let out a little yelp as she tripped on something. She looked down to see what it was, and found a severed arm, clutching a throwing knife.
Resuming her beeline toward Archon, she smiled slightly.
At least it wasn't Roion she was defending.
Roion was terrible.
"There you are, finally." Archon noted, barely stealing a glance at her before he launched an arrow into the fight.
"Here I am." She muttered with disdain. Shrugging as she said so.
"Just make yourself useful, and be sure not to let me die."
"Oh, I will."
Setra sighed, stepped back from the battle. She wouldn't have much to do from here on out. Luther had made sure of that. But why? She had been fighting well. Maybe today wasn't her best day, but she was doing well. Was it because she couldn't bring down a legion witha single swing of her sword, like Nihilus could? Unlikely. Nihilus was unrealistically skilled. Not many people could do that.
"Archon?" She asked.
"Yeah?" He replied, still focused on the distant battle.
"Why was I told to defend you?"
"How should I know?" He looked over his shoulder at her, briefly. "Maybe Luth' figured you'd be a good replacement for Mr. Get-Himself-killed, over there." He suggested, indicating a piece of Roion's remains.
"Or," he said, an evil glint sparkling in his eyes, "Maybe he thought you weren't doing good enough."
"I hate you."
Archon smiled, before letting loose an arrow that flew into the body of an elf that Nihilus was preparing to strike. Killing it, and prompting a rude gesture from Nihilus.
"I know." He said, finally. Tormenting Setra was satisfying.
"But," he continued. "What are you gonna do?" He asked sarcastically.
Setra stared daggers at him, but said nothing. Archon's smiled widened.
"That's what I thought."
He said, feeling victorious.
With Nihilus acting as a human slaughterhouse, Luther more than willing to punch anything that wasn't Nihilus, and Archon proving himself a crack shot, not a single dark elf managed to get anywhere near Setra. As such, the battle progressed slowly for her, despite it taking barely more than a few minutes.
Some time had passed since the battle against the dark elves. Setra refused to look at Luther, instead choosing to glower at her boots. Her mood was stormy and black, contrasting her fiery, vibrant, body.
Nihilus thought that the expressions that played across her face when she was in these moods were unattractive. Unfortunately, she seemed to be displaying them all too frequently in recent days. As far as he could tell, nobody else had noticed. That, or they didn't care.
Care. That was an amusing thought.
Setra made it difficult to care.
The one time he'd tried talking about it to her, she got angry at him. Setra never got angry at him. Nihilus had backed off after that. It was hard to see her like this, but Setra was fiercely independent.
They were heading out of Delanora, the fantasy-themed realm which, they entered the most often. In Delanora, people liked to roleplay. Assuming the identity of a hero and pretending that the game was reality, was one of Delanora's main attractions.
But now they were leaving. Heading back, towards the Hub.
The Hub was the "Entrance hall" of the game. You woke up there immediately after entering the game, and from there, could enter any number of worlds. Or even just hang out in the default hub.
They were going to meet back up with Roion, and maybe a few of the others who were a part of their group.
Setra hoped that Crius would not be there. Crius was a relative newcomer to the group, and he was no easier to get along with than the rest of them. Maybe even harder than normal, and the last thing she needed was to be forced to weather his incessant jibes.
She escaped her absent state of mind as she noticed that they had approached the gateway to the hub; a ten-metre high archway of faded gold colour that bordered a large space that consisted of nothing but shining lights that swirled and shifted with a restless and protean vigour.
Setra exhaled, trying to shed some of her exasperation, and stepped through the portal.