Morland: Blood and Sweat

Awake, Who The Hell Am I?

– ORIS, OUTSKIRTS –

Darrel suddenly jerked awake then cringed and squirmed on the ground as the feeling of pain jolted around his abdomen like an alien parasite, he gripped his chest and shoulders as he tried to stop the pain.

He did not know how long it had been since the pain had started, but the excruciating feeling began to subside until it stopped entirely.

”Gah! What the hell was that? Pain? ” He exclaimed as he examined his upper body to see if nothing had been gouged out from his chest. ”Fuuuck! ”

Darrel screamed several more exotic curse words towards the sky, and when he stopped to calm himself from the horrible experience, his breathing suddenly paused when he noticed the peculiar surroundings. He tried to get up to his feet quickly, but the pain had made him wearily so he laggard till he was standing up.

As he looked at the area around him, his expression shifted from barely sane, to a more twisted and confused face when his gaze finally glued itself to the looming peak that nearly blotted out the light of the sun from across the land beneath it.

”Where the hell…? No, no, no, no! This has got to be a joke. ” His lips barely parted as he tried to voice out his thoughts.

The last thing that Darrel remembered was him taking a nap on his couch at home, he had not expected anything odd to occur as he quietly slept off his daily fatigue.

Now what felt like moments later, he found himself sleeping right beneath this very tall mountain with a huge crater around him as though he had fallen out of the sky like a meteorite from space.

”I don know what the hell happened, but I know there is something off about this place, ” Darrel muttered to himself, at the same time he felt a strange feeling in his gut telling him to leave the area.

To keep himself from any more phenomena Darrel decided to listen to his gut, and he quickly scaled the mound of dirt lying around the crater and then scurried away. He had to find someone who could assist him, but with no sign of civilization in sight, he had no way of knowing which direction was the right one.

Darrel stood atop a berm near the crater and looked across the land, but all he could see were dusty plains, rugged hills, and an extremely tall mountain that seemed to ascend beyond the clouds and overshadow the entire region.

It was obvious that he had to start walking, and the only feasible direction was towards that enormous wonder. However, before he could start on this perilous trek, he ran back towards the crater he had risen from hoping he would uncover some hidden answers.

Darrel stood on the edge of the large crater and examined its entirety, the first thing he noticed were strange symbols that appeared to have been carved around the craters edge.

I have never seen any chisel that could do that. Darrel noted that the indents were tracked with cinders as though the inscription had been charred into the ground with fire.

”Feels like I have seen these before, ” As he took a closer look, he noticed that the symbols had an odd similarity to those he saw in books and a few role-playing video games. ”Video games yes, but where else did I see them? ”

Strangely enough, Darrel recalled what these Video Games were, however, he could not put his finger on which ones he had encountered them in. When he thought hard about it, he began to hear strange noises as though electric sparks had been set off.

These symbols do look like… He pondered even harder until the words were dragged out of his mind.

”Magic sigils… ” He sputtered after closer examination, this was exactly what had been gnawing at his mind.

In most role-playing games he had played, symbols of power were the cause of virtual disasters and the basis of magic combat. He recalled that even characters that were not magic-oriented could use these magic sigils for other purposes, be it healing, protection, or teleportation.

This was quite the revelation on his part, as he reached out to push the dirt covering up a part of the symbols, he suddenly heard the sparks in his mind again, but this time it felt like a circuit had been connected and no repercussions ensued. Darrel felt like a piece of himself had been restored to his being and this happened after he touched the magic sigils and now, some memories he had not been able to recall earlier all came flowing back to him like a stream.

”Wait a minute… ” Darrel started to fiddle about with the clues he had found and the fragments of his newfound memories. ”But how could magic sigils appear in the real world when they were originally from video games? ”

Originally? The word seemed to tumble around in his head that he had to question himself once more.

”No, the real world… My original world had historic evidence of magic, texts and symbols have been dug up over the centuries and even with the modern age, many people have witnessed magic in plain sight, ” Darrel pictured all the strange events and recorded experiences. ”So magic could not have originally been from video games, that meant this was not a video game of any sort… But where was here anyway? ”

Darrel was a smart guy and he was no pushover either, even people back home used to call him a fusion between a nerd and jock though he belonged to neither group. If he could describe how he lived the entirety of his years in high school, he would be considered a jack of all trades.

There was no sport that Darrel could not play, and no game he would not try without displaying a hint of potential. As he recalled additional fragments of his former world, more questions continued to pile up one after the other until the noise in his mind became a hum and his head started to hurt.

The pain quickly escalated and Darrel began to feel a warm and tickling sensation coursing through his body.

”What the? ” The veins in his arms suddenly glowed a light blue hue, as a similar color appeared in his vision.

The strange feeling and the unusual sight were things that Darrel had never experienced in any dream or virtual world before, not even the most extraordinary adrenaline shot could compare to the sensation he was experiencing right now.

As the feeling continued, Darrels hands started to emit tiny blue sparks, that appeared like the cackling of electric cables. As the surge of energy continued to build up in his body, the sparks from Darrels hands enlarged in tandem.

”Could this be magic…? ” This was the only logical explanation that could match the insanity that he had encountered since waking up in a crater a moment ago. ”So these sparks, are these the only things I can conjure with this… With my magic? ”

Darrel looked down at the extravagant glow he was emanating, what were these sparks exactly? Could he use them to attack? Or perhaps defend against other magic attacks?

Darrel could barely contain his glee and immediately started to come up with various phenomenons that could have induced his body to acquire magic. His first thought was the agonizing pain he had experienced earlier, so he wondered if it was a part of his transformation.

There was also a possibility that the runes around the crater had induced his new powers, but there was no definite proof of it.

”I guess I will figure it out eventually… ” Darrel muttered.

After pondering on the might-be cause of his current state, Darrel proceeded to stretch out his hands. His fingers twitched as he readied himself to fire his magic to the sky, however, before a bolt of lightning could be released, he heard the sounds of horses galloping like a flood of water and a person shouting above the noise.

”Over there! ” A grown mans voice boomed in the distance.

A moment ago, Darrel had been trying to find a clue as to how he could find a way back to civilization, but his mind had suddenly been engrossed in his acquisition of magic that he could care less about who was coming his way.

Unfortunately for Darrel, the individuals seemed keenly interested in him.

”Could he be one of them? ”

The first individual muttered cautiously, but the second one had spoken in a much bolder tone, the speakers voice sounded more composed like the voice of someone with authority.

”A magic-user? How convenient. ”

”I don recall seeing him among the others, ” Another in the group added, but Darrel was yet to mind their presence. ”Perhaps he slipped out with the escaped prisoners. ”

Prisoners?

The statement caught Darrel by surprise and he immediately turned to face the people that had accused him of being as such.

Four riders approached as they descended the hill on the back of their horses while looking down at him, the individuals wore fancy-looking armor like those worn by knights from fantasy animations.

The first two from the group wore a set of helmless silver-plated armor lined with golden trims, while the other two wore a full set of gold gilded armor with unique inscriptions carved on each one, however, both of their helms had a different design as though to indicate their individuality. These two also wore golden capes which fluttered lazily behind them as the wind blew past.

”Surrender yourself prisoner and no harm will come upon you. ” One of the helmless riders bellowed pridefully at Darrel.

Darrel froze on the spot as he gazed at the knights in awe, for a moment he thought the individuals had come to rescue him, but the thought perished a moment after realizing what the knights were talking about as they glued their focus squarely on him.

Im guessing this won end well. The exuberant force of magic he had manifested earlier faded faster than a temporary high and before long, he realized that the knights had been speaking to him all along. Darrel felt slightly guilty after ignoring them when they called out to him earlier, but he justified his actions with one single thought. I am no ones prisoner.

”Are you deaf fool?! ” The knight bellowed with displeasure.

”Who the hell are you? ”

”What is this Hell he speaks of? ” The knight murmured back to the other.

”Not sure, ” The second rider replied. ”He must be drunk on mana, I will take him. ”

One of the knights in silver armor drew his sword out then charged at Darrel on his horse.

Magic users were known to have a significant disadvantage in close-ranged combat, especially against heavily armored and riding opponents. The knight appeared experienced, as he immediately discerned Darrels weakness and proceeded to exploit it.

What am I standing still like this for?! Darrel pondered in shock. I have to find a way to fight back.

In a split second Darrel assessed his options then recalled how horseback opponents had a hard time with nimble foes who used the horses linear speed against its rider.

”Haaaa!! ” The knight on the horse charged closer with his sword waving in his right hand.

Darrel quickly jumped left to dodge but ended up getting heavily brushed by the horse as it charged past him, and was sent crashing to the ground. Pain shot up quickly across the side of his body that had been hit after getting knocked back, but the pain he felt this time quickly faded away as fast as it had come.

”So this is how it feels to lose Health Points… ” Darrel squirmed astonished by the outcome. ”Was this part of the physical laws of this world? Or did my body get bestowed with pain-suppressing abilities? ”

In the real world some virtual games gave users the feature to experience their avatars pain, however, even though this granted users this trait, the device was still incomplete in that only pinching sensations that lasted for no more than five seconds at most were felt when the highest level of pain was received on such devices.

All that pain in such a short burst… No device could fully replicate the pain that avatars took for players when they take damage from various attacks during the game. In that short time, I am sure I felt every bit of pain that I was supposed to feel… but briefly.

As Darrel continued to contemplate on what may have kept his pain duration earlier to a minimum earlier, the knight that had attacked him slowed and veered around.

”Tch. I suppose thats what kept in-game characters going even after receiving brutal life-threatening attacks. ” He got up from the ground slowly weary of the knight who was now circling him like a vulture.

Darrel looked at his hand confused about how his magic was no longer available for him to use. On the other hand, he barely knew how to fight and had no actual combat experience apart from thousands of visualizations on how he could beat up his local town bullies who had tormented him for most of his early childhood.

At this moment in time, Darrel was as helpless as a baby bird and his only logical move was to escape from there. Fortunately for Darrel, his opponent did not know this and was cautious enough to give him some breathing room.

”Finish him! ” The bold knight from earlier exclaimed at his comrade who seemed to be taking his time.

The knight nodded his head and looked down at Darrel then pointed his sword at him. ”This is your last chance, surrender now and you will not be harmed, prisoner! ”

Again with the prisoner stuff? Darrel glared at the knight defiantly, then shuffled slowly as he shot swift glances at the other three in case they chose to intervene. Even though they underestimated him, he knew that his opponents could easily gang up on him if the situation called for it. After all, there was no law that kept them from not doing so.

”Or was there? ” Darrel muttered under his breath.

Normally a cavalry unit would consist of more than four riders, and only a handful of them would be dressed in such extravagant armor. However, even though their appearance was like that of nobility, these knights had a dignified demeanor, and Darrel could feel the imposing aura they gave off.

This was enough to warn him that these men were no average calvary.

I don know about these guys, but ranks and titles are a must-have in any game, not only did this give individuals authority, but it also provided them with new powers and abilities. Darrels heart raced, instead of coming up with a solution for his inconvenient situation, he was only scaling it up by giving his brain a more complicated scenario to work out.

One thing was certain in Darrels mind, if he had somehow appeared in this world like that from a game then perhaps his first encounter would be scaled down to his level. Unfortunately, that had not been even made clear to him, especially since he had no health bar, no mana scale, no level chart, even after exhibiting signs of magic manipulation he had no way of knowing which magic he was using or what to call it.

If he was level one then these guys were much higher, even their armor looked threateningly high level. They might have been scaled down to accommodate his low level, but that meant he had to survive long enough or defeat one of them.

”So you won surrender huh? ” The knight spoke. ”Well, thats good for me. ”

After gauging Darrel, the knight decided to get down from his horse, this might have been due to Darrels cautious behavior after getting knocked down or perhaps the knights hubris since he assumed he still had the advantage, however to Darrel he saw that the field had been evened out even if it was slightly.

”So you guys are knights huh? ” Darrel queried sarcastically.

The magic Darrel had exhibited earlier had vanished suddenly after he was brushed aside by the knights horse. With no way to attack or defend, Darrel had to buy more time and figure out a way to get that power surging through his body again.

”Holy Knights to you scum! ”

The knight exclaimed as he lunged towards Darrel and slammed his shield straight into his abdomen. Darrel staggered a few steps backward from the blow wincing in pain, but he quickly recovered just as he had done earlier.

”So you have some kind of temple you pray to like some little priestesses huh? ” Darrel retorted defiantly.

Witnessing his defiance the other knight in silver armor disembarked from his horse and approached the two, and from the distance, Darrel noted the contorted expression of anger on the knights face, as he drew closer, he noticed a faint glimmering glow emanating from the knights armor.

”You dare insult the Holy Knights of Moriandia! ” The Knight roared then charged at Darrel with his sword drawn. ”Tears of the heavens, unbind the chains of light, and strike down my enemies with Morias might! ”

With his sword raised towards the sky, a blinding streak struck the tip of the blade then proceeded down the knights arm and body leaving him glowing with a flaring white aura around his body.

Abashed in a blinding light Darrel was unable to react as the knight closed in on him with his swords edge ready to clip off his head.

”Calestian!! ”

The blaring call fell on deaf ears as the blade continued on its set course towards Darrels neck, but this was immediately followed by a screeching noise that reverberated in the barren landscape.

To everyones amazement, Darrels head was still attached to his body, the blade that had threatened to take his life was held back inches from his neck by an invisible force. The holy knights looked at one another astonished by the immediate outcome, the knight holding the sword grit his teeth and pushed hard on the sword trying to finish the job.

”Why… won it move?! ” Calestian whined.

Sparks suddenly flickered from the sword and the invisible force slowly began to appear as a translucent membrane made up of streaks of blue lights that continuously bolted across the targeted area. When Darrel opened his eyes to witness what had occurred after regaining his vision, he noticed the familiar feeling begin to fill in his body again.

The two knights stood with their mouths ajar, their gazes jumped to the other knights in gold probably expecting a word of advice for this situation, but as Darrel emitted more aura the two knights attention returned to him.

”You… ” Darrels iris flickered with a rich blue hue. ”You call yourself a holy knight? Are you so holy? ”

Calestian could feel the electrifying gaze burrow through the thoughts in his mind, and as each question was asked he could feel his body be ensnared even further until he could not move a muscle. Calestians grip on his sword loosened and the blade hit the ground with a mild clink, Darrel picked up the sword and turned his mesmerizing gaze towards the first knight.

It had taken a near-death experience to jump-start his newfound magic, in his heart he prayed it was sufficient to defeat the remaining enemies.

”And you… ” Darrel slithered towards the nearby knight while dragging Calestians sword behind him like a tail since it was too heavy for him to carry. ”I know about your lust… ”

”Reginald! Don look him in the eyes! ”

It was the leaders voice again, this time he spoke with a more domineering tone and immediately the second knight snapped out of the trance and stood in a defensive posture.

”Your witchcraft will not work on me anymore! ” Reginald exclaimed.

Darrel noted that the earlier knight he had mesmerized had regained his composure, Calestian glared at Darrel with a vindictive look on his face, but even through that, he could not hide the shame hidden behind it.

”How dare you?! ” Calestian grumbled. ”How dare you touch my sword, you lowly prisoner?! ”

When he heard the mocking word again it felt like a blight on his sanity as the word echoed through his mind and uncovered memories that had been shut away, Darrel began to hear the static noise again and this time every sound from outside was blocked out and the last thing Darrel heard were the murmurings of the knights.

”I will kill you! ”

”Stop! We need him alive. ”

”Out of my way! ”

”Restrain him! ”

A dreary calm fell upon Darrels mind as every sound around and within him was silenced, suddenly he found himself looking at a dark canvas with glowing symbols carving themselves in the mid-air. When they had completed inscribing the black space, the symbols gave off a bright flash and Darrel was brought back to reality.

The first thing Darrel saw was Calestian rushing towards him screaming a variety of accusations at him, Reginald trailed a few steps behind him trying to stop Calestian.

All of a sudden, a burst of mana erupted from Darrels body and shot up to the sky then immediately sent an explosion of mana which expanded into a large sphere that sent massive shockwaves around the area, the two holy knights were instantly sent flying and crashed several feet away.

”I am not your prisoner! ” Darrel screamed as the explosion of mana engulfed him and everything around it.

As the smoke cleared an opaque sphere was left in the wake of the explosion, similar to the invisible force from earlier the sphere expanded several more feet as it slowly rotated around Darrel. The clouds in the atmosphere started to gather towards the rotation of the sphere and the sky above the area started to darken.

”Lieutenant, if this goes on we will have erratic weather patterns in this region for some time, ” One of the knights clad in golden armor spoke up.

”Tend to the squires. ” The Lieutenant replied. ”I will handle the madman. ”

It was the first time the Lieutenant had said more than two words, all he had done earlier was call out to his men when they blundered during their scuffle with Darrel.

The Lieutenant jumped off his trembling mount then brazenly approached the mana sphere that Darrel had conjured, he gripped the straps on his gauntlets and proceeded to tighten them before extending his hand towards the swirling dome.

[Fsst!!]

The sphere that had been expanding ever so steadily and aggressively repelling everything in its path suddenly popped like a bubble of water right in front of everyone, the Lieutenant stood in a refined battle posture with his index and middle fingers pointing straight at Darrel.

The other knight clad in gold watched from a distance before proceeding to help Calestian and Reginald who had drowsily witnessed this feat before falling unconscious.

”Plain mana manipulation… ” The Lieutenant murmured.

Darrel stood in disarray at what had happened, he recalled the fury that had consumed him before when he had burst in outrage and unknowingly set off a mana explosion which had sent the two Holy knights flying several feet across the sandy dunes, but this man clad in gold had popped his defense with only two fingers.

A ridiculous monster.

I knew the two individuals in gold were stronger, but these guys need a whole new definition of stronger. His thoughts flew into hyper-acceleration, earlier he had been in the same predicament, but instead of coming up with a solution, a fit of rage and a temporal power spike had only made him a bigger target. I thought beating those two would make me safer.

As Darrel looked on at the Lieutenant with awe, he noticed that he appeared younger than his men, his face had a youthful look and he stood just a few inches above Darrel and that might have been because of the armor he was wearing.

”I will say this once more, surrender prisoner. ”

There was no way for Darrel to win this battle let alone escape it, his enemies had superior armor, horses, and were familiar with the terrain. He had sensed this feeling earlier, but now the feeling had grown stronger and every fiber of his being was telling him to run.

Fight or Flight? Unfortunately, both these options were now obsolete, but as Darrel pondered with his remaining seconds only one option had been set on the table from the
ew pair, and after all a man can not simply be told to just surrender.

”You forgot, or die! ”

Darrel immediately charged at the Lieutenant with Calestians sword in hand, wondering if that way he would die like a real man and perhaps such an act would blot out his former transgressions.

Just maybe.

The lieutenant raised his hands, then clenched his armored fists. His stance remained as elegant as a statue locked in an everlasting duel against the elements.

”Oh no, the only things that I call death upon are threats to Moriandia and her people alone. ” The Lieutenant replied suddenly. ”You are but a speck of dust on its golden floors. ”

Before Darrel could swing the hefty sword at the Lieutenant, a shimmering light blinded his sight and a striking whisper filled his ears before everything went quiet.

– ORIS –

Rumors about a prisoner who had gone up against two Holy Knights and their squires spread through the camp like a pandemic, it was said that he did not use any spells during the battle and it took the combined efforts of the Lieutenants to bring him down.

”The squires are still recovering as we speak. ”

”Why in Quara are we transporting him then? ”

Darrel woke up after the continuous swaying, his first thought was that he had been in a nightmare all along, but when his eyes opened he was greeted with iron chains and steel bars to prove his fears. Unfortunately, after his recent tussle with one of the holy knights, his will to rebel had been tremendously cut down.

”My body feels all mushy… ” Darrel muttered.

The chains on his wrist were heavy, but there was something else that seemed to be weighing him down. Darrel tried to recall what had happened when he went up against the Lieutenant, however, it all appeared as a blur in his mind.

”Its the iron. ”

A hoarse voice spoke from behind him, Darrel shuffled around just to take a look at who had spoken to him, and right next to his cage was another cage carrying another prisoner.

”Who are you? ”

”Luca, pleasure. ” He responded hastily. ”Tell me mate, between you and the Lieutenant, which one of you is stronger? ”

Rumor sack! This was the first impression that Darrel had on the young man sitting in a cage next to his, and he could barely hide the annoyance he had plastered on his face.

These types of individuals got close to people just to get the information that the world was desperate to know about, they would sell each word for a profit.

Reporters were the worst, not that I ever had a run-in with any of them…but maybe I can humor him.

Darrel had heard the guards whisper about him, most of them seemed scared of what he had already done. To weaken the enemy further, he believed it would be wise to sow more fear and discord among them, and making the probable answer to his query, Darrel placed his erect thumb on his chest.

[Snap! Snap!! Snap!!!]

”I knew it, ” Luca snapped his fingers in the form of a eureka gesture. ”I saw the clouds and the lightning. ”

”Lightning? That happened? ”

Darrel peered at the iron cuffs as he recalled the final moments during his last-ditch effort, the first sensation that came upon his body was that of acknowledgment to the fact that someone else was stronger than he was and this was not a feeling that had to be taught to anyone, it came to everyone naturally.

Like instinct.

At that moment Darrel had felt the true chasm between the two of them, and the next thing he realized was waking up in a cage, chained to the floor of a damned carriage.

”Where are we? ”

”You don know this place? ” Luca asked, surprised. ”Its bloody mount Oris, look at the size of that thing you can miss that anywhere mate. ”

Luca replied while pointing at the looming mountain and its cloud impaling peak, and Darrel wondered how long it would take for them to scale to the mountains peak.

”Are we climbing that? ”

”Climbing? This is a dungeon-mining-prison. ”

”A what now? ”

”A prison! ”

Darrels realization sparked in him like a flash of lightning, this explained most of what he was going through, the cuffs and chains, the weariness, and of course the carriage carrying caged individuals.

Luca continued to explain to Darrel about Dungeon-Mines, which were structures that were located across Morland, some of these were known to be ruins belonging to ancient civilizations while others were known to have been layers that once harbored dangerous monsters.

”Before a Dungeon-Mine can be established, adventurers from across Morland are hired to clear its denizens, ” Luca stated proudly. ”These could be slimes, goblins, and even more rare monsters like basilisks and wyrms. ”

”Wow, so what happens after that? ”

”Oh yes yes, once this was done the Mining Guilds would then come in to create a mining settlement and begin extraction of raw materials as well as other treasures buried deeper inside. ”

”I see, so what is this Dungeon Mining Prison? ”

”That… Well, the Empire cares little about guilds in its province, ” Lucas tone dampened. ”Instead they created a new system where all criminals are to serve dungeon minings for their offenses. ”

”Cheap labor. ”

Luca nodded in approval.

Darrel looked up at the abnormally tall mountain called Oris and wondered how long he would be there as a prisoner, however, his thoughts rushed back to the time he spent in his former world and the memories he wished he had kept locked away.

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