83 Ballsy Move, Bro
[Rare Title Acquired: Balls of Steel]
When life metaphorically kicks you in the nuts, your nuts kick back.
|| You've attempted the Impossible, ready to die if it all goes sideways. Like all great heroes from Legend, you did something stupid, and it was awesome, and that's worth a lot in this world.
Purely Passive Title. At all times, Title grants +2 Charisma and Increases Chance of Counterattack for all relevant Gear and Weapons by 3%. Title also minimizes Death Penalty if you die attempting a ballsy play. AI calculates "ballsy" as any action with \u003c5% success rate for average players.||
Anansi gives me time to skim my new Title before launching into his Congratulations for Clearing a Nightmare Mode Dungeon spiel. I'm starting to think he might appear every time a Nightmare Mode First Clear happens, though I can't be sure.
Tricksters are notorious for never giving straight answers.
Finally, he reaches the end of prepared speech and gets to the important bit: "Since you have already accepted my Tumult in the Realms Quest, I shall grant you a special boon. For your reward this time, I offer a choice. You may choose a Random Item or a single piece of Information."
"We aren't getting the LiveStream capability?" Taliesin asks, disappointed.
Anansi smiles his pointed, toothy grin at him. Taliesin squeaks and shifts into a shadow cat.
"All players will be granted that ability, thanks to your efforts, so it does not count as your personal reward. Any future Nightmare Mode Dungeon raid can be LiveStreamed by anyone, including your Chaos Party.
Now, choose. Item or Information. Discuss amongst yourselves, but only the Party Leader may make the final decision."
I've already made up my mind before we even start talking it out. Kara and Nanuk agree with me completely, but Nightfury and Taliesin seem disappointed when I tell them I vote for Information. Items are cool and all, but
a) I don't like the sound of "random" when I'm involved. (Nightfury fiddles with his ugly pink hat and sighs. After experiencing the effects of my shite Luck firsthand, he can't argue with that.)
b) It's Information from the God of Storytelling himself! He literally travels the entire World Tree collecting tales about the Tumult in the Realms and any other interesting tidbit that strikes his fancy. We could have the very essence of the game at our fingertips here.
"Then what should we ask?" Nightfury looks thoughtful. "Quest secrets? Realm spoilers?"
"Maybe how the Mythic Rankings are going to be determined?" Nanuk offers.
I shake my head. "I have a question in mind. I'm pretty sure it's the right one."
"How sure?" Kara asks.
"More sure than I was when I kicked a dragon, less sure than when I said I'd fight a Boss blind."
To my surprise, this seems to satisfy everyone.
Once everyone nods, I turn back to Anansi. He's still half-naked, only wearing his orange toga-sarong silky fabric thing, and his limbs are spread in a variety of directions.
"We choose Information."
His answering smile cuts wide across his face and sends shivers down my spine, but I can tell he's pleased with our choice.
Whether or not that's good news for us, I can't say.
He spreads all four arms. "Ask any question, and if it is within my power to answer, I will."
This is where my gamble comes in. I cross my fingers and think ballsy thoughts.
"What is the one piece of information you believe we most need to know right now?"
There's a sharp breath of surprise from Nanuk, and Nightfury mutters, "Ballsy move, Boxers Bro."
Anansi's arms writhe into new positions and his body ripples in excitement. His glittering black eyes gleam at me.
I gulp and reach behind me on instinct. A soft but strong hand grips mine.
Kara's strength gives me strength, and I manage not to cry when Anansi licks his lips.
Then he begins speaking, and I'm too shocked to be afraid.
"The Realms hold many secrets, but one above all others matters most to you in this moment," Anansi declares. Then he goes on in mystical, flowery game language and blows all of our minds.
In plain English, this is what he tells us:
The Tumult in each Realm stems from the fact that there are TWO Main Storyline Quests for each Realm. And the two MSQs are in perfect Opposition. In each Realm, two rival factions stir up conflict, and as Players complete quests, they are inadvertently helping one faction or the other. Players leading the Main Storyline Quests change the Fate of the Realm because those quests determine which Faction starts the Final Realm Battle in the lead.
THIS IS HUGE.
Realm Battles were not a thing in the beta! Anansi doesn't give us any real info on the battles, but we've all played enough MMOs to have a solid idea. I'd guess every last Player, from the most hardcore to the most casual, will be required to participate and choose a side.
Except some Players, like us, won't be able to choose in the end.
We've already completed the first leg of a MSQ, so we've already chosen our side. Because I saved Baby Lugh, we're on the side of the Tuatha de Danann. The Fae People.
And if we want to make sure our side has a leg up when the Final Battle begins, we have to complete our MSQ before the Party leading the other side completes the parallel MSQ.
Furthermore, because the MSQs are so influential to the Realm plot, at a certain point, one line of the MSQ gets cut off, and only the leading MSQ can be 100% completed and signal the Realm Battle Beginning.
At the end, Anansi tells me the worst possible news: another Party has already started the parallel Main Storyline Quest.
If they get too far ahead of us, we'll never be able to finish all the Chains of our quest line.
"Is it part of the same information if I ask which Party?" I ask boldly.
Anansi grins wickedly. "Polemos, Loimos, Limos, and Thanatos. The Four Horsemen Party."
AHHH HELL NAH.
I fucking knew it.
I draw Zen'aku and go through my sword forms, thinking furiously.
Anansi quietly watches me, but I'm so focused, I don't notice his intense gaze. I also barely notice when one last mischievous smile twists across his face, and with a snap of his fingers, he disappears.
"Good luck, Erebus, Hero of the Realms," his whispery voice echoes even after he's gone.
My Party's used to weird shit like this happening around me by now, so when it's clear I'm going to be busy for a bit, they get comfortable on various bits of rubble while I think and mutter to myself.
This changes everything. I don't want any Party to beat us and destroy our quest line, but I ESPECIALLY don't want it to be those apocalyptic rank-crazy fuckers.
At the same time, I absolutely MUST clear a third Nightmare Mode Dungeon and open the Teleportation Portals, or I'll lose all the planning I went through with Alfryd, Arachne, and Vulcan. Plus, who knows how much Reputation I'd lose among the NPCs if I didn't keep my word. And they're all in Tara, which means they're all Tuatha, which means losing their Reputation points might negatively impact my MSQ anyway.
Plus, we stand to make a fortune by being the first to run a Nightmare Mode LiveStream, but if we take too long before we do the dungeon run, another team could do the First LiveStream instead. We really need to use the momentum while we have it.
The good news is that Anansi made it pretty clear the Horsemen have no idea they're even on a MSQ. They stumbled across the small opening quest while grinding for levels.
Makes sense; if Anansi hadn't specifically brought me to that forest, I wouldn't have known the [Find Baby Lugh] changeling quest was anything super important.
What we need is to somehow divert Polemos and his crew's attention away from their seemingly unimportant quest. I sincerely doubt anyone else is a threat to us, but the best case scenario would be to also divert the attention of every hardcore gamer in Viren's Refuge all at the same time.
Deep in thought, I leap up onto a crumbling wall and look out over the vast plains surrounding Redcap Ruin.
I'm surprised enough by what I see to snap out of my reverie. A few dozen players are all crowded round, armed to the teeth, staring at the official Exit point of the Dungeon. Curious, I open the Hype Vid and scan the comments.
Sure enough, all these people are here to murder us.
I'm impressed by my own assholery. Must be strong to bring out this many PKers and keep them here for hours while we have a merry old time clearing a Dungeon.
I'm guessing there used to be a lot more, and they either got bored waiting or got worried when we kept not dying mid-dungeon.
I turn to call a warning to my own Party, and I see Taliesin concentrating hard, editing our montage video, with input here and there from the others.
And it hits me.
I know just the thing to make all my dreams for today come true.
I just have to embrace my inner asshole and be more ballsy than I've ever been before.
"Little Dude! Camera time! Everybody, weapons ready! We have one last section to shoot before we post the Highlight Reel!"