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[PP/FL23] A Thought About Tomorrow

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A Thought About Tomorrow

It had been some time since the hunter had walked the streets of this fantastical place, but the whole thing seemed that much different.  In the big picture of the world, Kalanaes seemed to be no different than what it once was; however, the small details were evident.  After liberating the dark elves, they didn't really care about it, nor did they want to believe that their war with the sun elves was long over.  They wanted to continue believing the old lies that the Dark Elf Counsel would conjure up.  This did not change after everything was updated, and things were slightly changed.  Now, the surface had changed considerably, but the Underdark and it's denizens had not changed in the slightest.  Glowing fungal waste lit up anywhere that wasn't lit in flames.  Creatures of the dark scurried in fear from the light, but would pounce on those that braved the dark.  These were still the same, but now they seemed more monstrous and humanoid.  Loud thumps and dragging noises could sometimes be heard, warning all that danger was near.

Not much really changed, but it did seem to get livelier.

Hirru, the Jade Hunter, had made an rather eventful day with Hestia and wanted to relax in one of the only places he could now.  Even though the dark elves despised his very being, none would do anything while he wore the very pin that denoted their queen's loyalty, a silver crescent moon that he attached to his headband.   He felt the ease that this place gave, even though it was where it all went downhill for him.  Maybe it was the solace that he didn't have to hide his issue, anymore.  He had given up hiding his memory loss, deciding instead to use it to help himself and others.  He was not the man that the hunter was sacrificing every single day, but he could do the best he could to keep his life safe.

After looking into some upgraded skill sets that the hunter would require for future use, he was about to close his menu screen when he scrolled over the friends icon.  

"I should send a message to Baldur.  I've been worried that the storm may have put him at quite a set back too."


To: @Baldur
From: Hirru

Baldur, has everything been okay?  I found myself in some weird circumstances lately, and I'm sure everyone else has too.  I wanted your input on it all, and maybe discuss some venturing and looting probabilities too.  I'm on the 23rd floor, if you wanted to meet.

~Jade Hunter


Hirru Lvl 31 (PL 26)

720 HP (+100 PL)
110 Energy (+10 PL)
3 Accuracy
1 Evasion
20 Base Damage (23 w/ Ferocity & Impetus) [28 w/ Charge]
107 Mitigation
1 Paralysis
32 Envenom 


Shelob's Fang ...................... // +1 Accuracy, +1 Paralysis, +32 Envenom
Spirit of the Jade Dragon .......... // +2 Accuracy, +1 Evasion
Bulwark ............................ // +72 Mitigation
Blades Cloak ....................... // Vanity
Lun'Rael's Insignia ................ // Unique Vanity | 
Dimensional Backpack ............... // +1 B.R.I Slot

Battle Ready Inventory

<Teleportation Crystal> x1 ......... // Teleport to a town / out of a dungeon [Uses 2 posts: 1 for use, next to teleport]
<Betrayal of the Last Knight> ...... // +12 Damage
<Immolation Potion T3> x3 .......... // +30 Thorns
<Field Rations> x5 ................. // +12% Max HP
<Favor of the Golden Dragon> ....... // +3 Luck Die


Two Handed Straight Sword .......... // Rank 5: +7 DMG
Heavy Armor ........................ // Rank 5: +35 MIT
Search and Detect .................. // Rank 5: +5 LD | +5 Stealth Detect
Charge ............................. // Rank ?: +5 DMG on successful first strike
Energist ........................... // Rank ?: +20 EN
Combat Mastery: Damage ............. // Rank 3: +12 DMG

Extra Skills

Concentration ...................... // +1 to your BD / 5 turn cooldown
Survival ........................... // Heal 45 HP when out of battle each post / Negate environmental damage
Shatter ............................ // On hit, negate 15 Mit before dmg calc / -5 EN / 2 turn cooldown

Skill Mods

Reveal (Add on)..................... // +2 to Labyrinth searches|Post 15 searchs
Detect ............................. // +1 to Labyrinth searches|+2 Stealth Detect
Impetus ............................ // +1 Dmg
THSS Ferocity ...................... // +2 Dmg to all THSS Sword Arts
THSS Stamina ....................... // -2 EN to all THSS Sword Arts


Edited by Hirru
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Baldur's form resolved in light in the teleportation square on the twenty third floor for perhaps the first time since the boss fight.

The gaijin samurai didn't particularly like this floor. It had a lot of bad memories, aside from mostly being another annoying subterranean floor.

I'm getting too old for this shit. His mental dialogue left him with a smirk on his face. It would take something truly important to the gaijin samurai to get him back down to this floor. It just so happened to be a message from an old friend that did the trick.


To: @Hirru
From: Baldur

Sounds like clearing the 25th floor. It was definitely one of the more unique fights, and the only raid boss where I woke up in my bed, instead of ascending the stairs to the next floors. I'll see you there in 20.

Hirru had had a bad run recently with the frontlines, and though Shield and Beat and their discovered healer had tried to pull something together for the 24th floor, they had all been broken up by the drama with Hestia and gone their separate ways. It was a regret Baldur held in his heart that Hirru had been lost in the shuffle. Now, Baldur had rebuilt a family and a guild and was working towards the more noble goal they had tried to a long time ago. Repairing the damage that had been caused to the frontline by the floor 23 fight.

And he had a home to offer Hirru as well. Though he was not sure the roaming merchant would accept it.

So there he stood, tall and proud in his blue and white haori, the two katana at manafested at his side, his <<Zanshin>> and Teayre's <<Muramasa>>. His steel blue eyes scanning the ground, looking for the familiar green hair of the Jade Hunter.



» Baldur, The Gaijin Samurai vWKwiqS.png

  • Modified HP:
  • Modified EN:
  • Modified MIT:
  • Modified ACC:
  • Modified DMG: 25
  • Modified EVA:
  • Battle Heal:
  • Search:
  • Temp Buff: Medium Damage Potion x6->5| Rare T2 Item | +2 Damage
  • Temp Buff:
  • Temp Buff:
  • Temp Buff:
  • Temp Buff:

» Base Stats

  • Base HP: 820
  • Base EN: 96
  • Base MIT: 78
  • Base ACC: 5 (includes AA and does not automatically miss on 1s)
  • Base DMG: 23 
  • Base EVA: 2
  • Battle Heal: 41 HP
  • Keen: +1
  • Recovery: +4 EN

» Items Equipped:

  • Warden's Fury - Absolute Accuracy/2 Paralyze
  • Muramasa - Absolute Accuracy/Fallen/Blight/Burn
  • Ethereal Tether - Zanshin - Absolute Accuracy/Keen/Freeze/Burn
  • Montsuki haori - 48 DMG MIT/+1 EVASION/+4 EN RECOVERY
  • Emerald Magatama | Perfect | +3 Accuracy 
  • Hammerspace Backpack (HB) +1 BR item (allows stacks up to 7)

» Battle-Ready Inventory:

  • Medium Damage Potion x6 | Rare T2 Item | +2 Damage
  • Basic Teleportation Crystal x1 | Good Item | Teleports player to the Town of Beginnings
  • Max Mass HP Recovery Crystal x7 | Perfect T2 Item | +30*Target Tier (30/60/90)
  • Max T2 HP Recovery Crystal II x5 | Perfect T2 Item | +180 HP
  • Safeguard Potion x3 | Perfect Tier 1 | Safeguard
  • HB: Max Vitality Snack x2 | Rare Tier 2 | Grants +12 Energy
  • EWL: Medium Antidote Potion x1 | Rare Tier 2 | Immune to negative status effects for 2 turns
  • EWL: Muramasa 
  • EWL: Emerald Teardrop - +2 ACC/+1 EVASION
  • SC: : Warden's Fury

» Skills:

  • One Hand Curved Sword | Rank 1/5 | 
  • Katana | Rank 5/5 | 
  • Battle Healing | Rank 5/5 | 
  • Light Armor | Rank 5/5 | 
  • Charge | Purchased | 
  • Quick Change | Purchased
  • Extended Weight Limit | Purchased
  • Extended Mod Limit | Purchased

» Extra Skills:

  • Concentration | Equipped
  • Survival | Un-equipped
  • Meditation | Equipped
  • Parry | Equipped
  • Forgotten King's Authority | Equipped
  • Shatter | Not Yet Unlocked

» Mods:

  • Ferocity: Equipped
  • Stamina: Equipped
  • Meticulous: Equipped
  • Resolve: Equipped
  • EML: Emergency Recovery: Equipped
  • EML: Bull Rush: Equipped

» Housing Bonuses:

  • Rested: -1 EN on first 2 uses
  • Tasty: Turns 2 food into feast for 4
  • Advanced Training: +10% exp to a thread 1/month
  • Filling: Add 1 extra tier 1 slot to food
  • Item Stash: +1 BR item slot
  • Relaxed: OOC regen 5*tier, recover EN out of combat after 2 turns in lieu of 3
  • Angler: +2 Fishing EXP per fishing attempt


Edited by Baldur
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While waiting for Baldur to appear, the hunter would watch the activity of the people, or non-player characters that made their living here.  It had only been a somewhat short time since the hunter had been shown what these people really were.  Beings called 'Artificial Intelligence', that seemed to live and breath depending on how they were created.  These things that could only be called NPCs, they were neither living nor dead; how could anyone believe they were living.  That was what the hunter was led to believe; not by any lie or deception from anyone specific, but from himself.  His memories had left him behind for a hospital bed in the other world, where another Hirru lay dying.  Meanwhile, the hunter was risking that man's life, to continue living in this world.

When he could finally see him, the hunter could see that the azure samurai was still just as different as ever.  Everyone else would wear some sort of heavy plate armor, or some leather piece sets, but he was the only player that Hirru knew that purposely wore a haori, or however that was called.  The hunter never figured it out, but that was his aesthetic 

Running up to the familiar player, Hirru would wave to Baldur before calling out to him.  The hunter's features had not changed much either; still wearing his signature single arm plated armor, green hair wrapped in a red headband, and blue-green eyes that seemed quite a bit livelier than ever.  Now, though, it looked like a larger blade and scabbard sat on his side holster.  He greeted his old friend.

"It's good to see you, Baldur.  I read that you have had quite an unusual experience.  I hope everything has been well."

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The scabby city of the dark elf settlement Kalanaes surrounded them, the dim darkness of the subterranean lit only by the glowing moss... and Baldur's welcoming smile at seeing his old friend again. He had once been hurt, harboring feelings of betrayal by Hirru over the scout's actions on this floor, but then Hirru had revealed what his situation was. He did, honestly, think he was saving a child in their confrontation with the dark council. That was something he could understand and respect. He had not understood the nature of this world as a game. And so, in the normally steel blue eyes of the gaijin samurai, he was forgiven.

And so the smile he bore was one of eternal optimism. It would not be hampered by Kayaba's mechanations of death, by furtive glances of would be dark elf assassins, or the whispers of the street. It was a bastion, a foundation to build on, and a lighthouse in the dark age.

"Hirru-san! It is so good to see you once again!" In spite of any protests Hirru might have tried to raise, Baldur pulled the Jade Hunter into a one armed hug, patting his back heavily and transferring the warmth that only old friends and comrades can impart.

"I am glad you reached out to me. I have wondered how you have been, and thought of you often, but I admit I was a bit embarrassed of how things fell off to be the first to reach out. But I am glad to see you up and out again." He let the man go and gestured with a nod down the street as the two began to walk.

"The 25th floor boss raid was certainly a tribulation. The scouting party almost didn't make it out, and it was almost more like a typical boss fight itself. But the floor boss himself fancied himself a god, and had the ability to chunk even the best of our tanks for quite a bit of health, but we had 4 full parties of frontliners. It was quite the site. Thankfully, though it was touch and go a few times, there were no casualties. We were the most prepared, most well buffed frontline assault in the history of the frontlines." Baldur seemed to swell with a bit of pride at that.

"Now, for what seems like the first time in a long time, we have unlocked another floor, and it seems a system update at that... though truth be told, nothing really changed for me."

Edited by Baldur
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He took the hug in kind, although much more awkwardly.  There was much that needed to be caught up upon between the two, so the hunter listened well to what his old friend would have to say.  They began to walk down the main street towards wherever, the destination didn't seem to matter to the two of them.  It did matter to the groups of assassins and inquisitors that would stalk them, but they stalked everyone, so there wasn't much to go with that.

"There hasn't been much that I can say.  After our failure to secure the sahagin fight, I sort of.."

He scratched the back of his head while his grin faded a little.

"..sort of took off instead of helping, as I said I would."

Removing his hand from his head, Hirru would rest his hand on the pommel of his sword.

"I feel into a depressive state, and then there was only darkness.  Not just mentally, but physically too.  I'm told that this was when the 'Storm' happened, seemingly at the same time that you guys fought the 25th floor boss.  I'm glad no one died on your side of the deal.  We are gonna need much more new blood as we go along, it seems."

He remembered how he felt within the dark embrace that enveloped everyone.  Witness accounts seemed to make it sound like it was cold and unnerving.  For Hirru, it was.. familiar.  As if he had long since been in this state before.  He shook his head hard to get the thoughts out.  He didn't leave that all behind to come back in. 

"So, what does a 'System Update' entail?  I read the small amount of information that had been given, but I understand only a little.  I remember something like this happening a few times before, but nothing to this degree.  Nearly all of the floors that I investigated have been radically changed!  Does this normally happen in games, Baldur?"

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"There hasn't been much that I can say.  After our failure to secure the sahagin fight, I sort of....sort of took off instead of helping, as I said I would."

"Don't feel guilty, Hirru, you were not the only one. After what happened, it only got worse with Hestia. I and many others backed out. The floor 24 boss fight was a struggle. I don't know if Hestia learned anything from it, but without her divisiveness, the floor 25 fight was the most well coordinated boss fight in history. I hope we can keep that going."

Mentally, Baldur scolded himself for being so passive aggressive about Hestia, but he felt her betrayal keenly because they had been so close. He had been wrecked when she had appeared to die at a Halloween event so many years ago, and she was one of only two people who knew his real name. The wound obviously still hurt him.

"So, what does a 'System Update' entail?  I read the small amount of information that had been given, but I understand only a little.  I remember something like this happening a few times before, but nothing to this degree.  Nearly all of the floors that I investigated have been radically changed!  Does this normally happen in games, Baldur?"

"I'm a bit surprised by it as well. System Updates are normal in a normal game, but that's usually because developers are working on improving it continuously. Unless Kayaba is sitting around making patch notes... which I guess may be the case, but it would imply he's either in here with us, or monitoring things. Regardless, it is typical. It means that the developers identified parts of how things worked that were performing suboptimally, and tried to make them work better. Typically it's called a "patch" because they're repairing something that was broken."

He let them walk on in silence for a few minutes.

"When Shield and I came back after the floor 24 fight happened, we decided we could do better to help out the frontlines and... well... everyone really. We got together with a few others, Oikawa, Mari, Calrex, and Beat and we created a new guild called 'Jacob's Ladder.' Our goal is help everyone escape this death game by helping people who want to join the front line do so, and by coordinating and supplying the frontline. So we're trying to find and foster new talented players. I also worked with Raidou, one of the crafting guild leaders, and was able to supply the entire raid with a full stack of group heal crystals... 5 for every frontliner. We also made sure we had feasts of every buff for every party. It was a success, but we'll need to keep pushing forward. When you feel up to fully diving back into everything, I just wanted to let you know, we'd welcome you with us."

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Hirru listened well about what happened when he left the frontlines.  It seemed that what Hestia had said was true, there was a heavy divide when he left.  He gave a heavy sigh before continuing to listen in.  With his recent venture with Hestia, he could confirm that whatever caused that divide seemed to faze her, but by how much he couldn't say.  He dealt with his own pain first, and revealed a heavy part of him that the hunter had only told a small amount of people.  He would probably have to reveal it to a few more, if his advice was to be trusted.

While talking about the events leading up to the 25th raid, the hunter was astounded to hear that they had pulled off something that hard.  Communication, even during the best of times, was hard to do.  Getting everyone buffed up and finding the resources for said buffs, this Raidou must have quite a following to put that all together.  He would need to look into their services.

"That's good to hear!  Glad to hear that you gathered quite the team for such a dangerous act.  We're going to need that much coordination, and more."

The hunter went on.

"If this update, or patch as you say, has reset everyone down to a max level thirty one (31), minus all this Paragon bull, we can expect quite a bit of fresh blood that wish to join the front.  They'll think that because they are level 31, that they can join the top.  It's not like before where a level forty plus was minimum for survival.  Most of us are now at the precipice to interact with the front, but we have additions that they don't.  They need knowledge, training, and resources, as well."

Hirru's face was stern, but concern was heavy in his eyes.

"We can't let these new players come in without prior knowledge of what to expect.  We may have well more than just 4 full squads, and our teams would have to accommodate that.  Each needs proper equipment and items"

Even with an existential crisis around him, the hunter was a strategist at heart.  He lived and breathed the information around him, and would spit out issue and solutions that could be relevant. 

"Although, I know I would do great to join back, but I would just be another divisive obstruction.  I'm sure there are quite a few players that resented what I did.  That would only cause a larger divide, if young blood come in to an ever present schism"

A certain silly two handed sword user came to mind, clad in his intricately made armor.  Mac's face when the 23rd raid ended was one of disappointment and failure.  He was the raid leader then, and Hirru had hurt not only his trust, but everyone else that would think that the Blood Oath, was nothing more than a joke.  Hirru looked up to his health bar, and the absents of his once proud guild symbol hurt him more.  The hunter couldn't handle facing the man, nor the commander, and abandoned it all.  Everything that he swore, all those that died.  He left behind.

"I need to gain more trust before that can happen.  I need to talk to them myself.  Even if they don't believe my words, they need to know why.  I've already talked to Hestia, but I guess I didn't need to."

He shook his head.  For some reason, she had agreed with him saving the child, Durares, but not for the same reason Hirru did.  She believed that we couldn't just kill NPC's or else they would lose empathy, or something along those lines when they finally exit the game.  It was ambitious, but Hirru had to tell her why he did it.  That he felt everyone was real.  A moral dilemma for a few, but a risk that he couldn't take.  That was why he did it.  That was why he failed so many.

"I need to apologize to Mac, the most."


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Baldur smiled sadly at the Jade Hunter, but stopped and turned to face the man, placing his hands on leather shoulders of Hirru's jerkin.

"I'm glad you feel that way. And I agree with your course of action, but Shield and I staked you for the floor 24 fight, and we'll stake you again for the guild."

He patted Hirru's shoulders then directed them down an alleyway that looked a little seedier than the others.

"Maybe you don't remember her, but we've taken in Mari and Oikawa. So divisiveness is not something we're shy of. The old grudges are dying away with the old blood, being replaced by new fresh ambition."

He ducked around some clothing and squeezed past some debris that was begging to choke there passage.

"But what I don't think you realize my friend, is that - " Baldur climbed over some boxes and then dropped down on the other side of a fence into a courtyard. "Redemption is literally my business. I have made a home, literally, for the lost, the disenfranchised, those seeking to turn it around or find a new way. Jacob's ladder isn't named for a toy, it is named for a vision of the stairs ascending to heaven. It is the the dream to wake the sleepers and find salvation."

They were here. This was the spot on the dungeon map.

"I won't push you to join the guild, the door is always open. But you would not be alone on the path you walk within our guild. Everything you just said, that's our purpose. It's what our mission is. And you'd be a perfect fit."

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"Wait, what?"

The hunter was propositioned to join a guild that Baldur and Shield had brought together out of nearly all of the most infamous players in Aincrad, including the mass-murderer Mari.  If it wasn't for the fact that Hirru had a brotherly relationship with another mass-murderer, Teayre, then the hunter would think that Baldur had lost his own marbles.  Everyone deserved redemption, as the samurai stated before, and he was willing to lend people a hand with it.  This man was crazier than the hunter ever thought, and it made him happy.  He wasn't the only crazy one around.

Smiling hard, he gave a slight chuckle.

"I would love to join you guys, but after I get a couple things settled."

He ducked around the corner to find something weird.  Nearly all of his search skills and modifications were alerting all at once.  

"Baldur, I know I asked you up here, but what did you bring me to?  It looks like a dungeon?"

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"Baldur, I know I asked you up here, but what did you bring me to?  It looks like a dungeon?"

Baldur gave Hirru a bit of a sheepish smile.

"Oh come on. We've almost been buried alive together. We've gone through floor boss fights together. I figure a little sub dungeon could be interesting. Besides, this was my last hit bonus from the floor 23 dungeon. Something about an undercover cell of council something or other. They opposed the Queen. I figured you wouldn't mind since I saw you wearing that pin around."

The gaijin samurai's blue eyes twinkled for a moment before they slowly slid around the courtyard. It was two stories all the way around them, with an exterior walkway on the second floor looking down at them. Four <<Dark Elf Assassins>> had come out of the shadows on the second floor to challenge them. It seemed they didn't like their hideout being discovered. Suddenly the background music changed from being ambiance music to being fight music.

"Tell you what, since this is a bit of a surprise, I'll take round one."

Steel blue were the color of Baldur's eyes as he delivered that message, a subtle sign that he was invested in the fight, carefully tempering his feelings. They were a tier below him here, so this should be pretty easy.

"<<Haku Senpu.>>" The samurai almost spat out, and then the system took over.

Baldur spun like the wind, each slash of his katana cutting the air with such vicious force, that the cut tore into the structure of the building wear each of the four Dark Elf assassins stood as arcs of light extended from his blade where he stood next to Hirru. It was over as quickly as it had begun, and Baldur sheathed his sword once again.

"Well, I think they know we're here now." His smile was almost embarrassed as pieces of the structure fell about him.

Haku Senpu - x12 AoE CD: 0/2 - 10 Energy +2/target, -2 Stamina, -1 well rested 
25x12=300 DMG to all targets

Baldur | HP 820/820 | EN 81/96 | DMG 25 | ACC 5 | EVA 2 | BH 41 | REC +4 | MIT 78
Hirru | HP 720/720 | EN 110/110 | DMG 23 | ACC 3 | EVA 1 | ENV 24 | MIT 107
Dark Elf Assassin 1 | HP 150/150 | DMG 120 | ACC: 0 | EVA: 0 
Dark Elf Assassin 2 | HP 150/150 | DMG 120 | ACC: 0 | EVA: 0
Dark Elf Assassin 3 | HP 150/150 | DMG 120 | ACC: 0 | EVA: 0
Dark Elf Assassin 4 | HP 150/150 | DMG 120 | ACC: 0 | EVA: 0


Edited by Baldur
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"I've had quite enough practice to figure out this two handed straight sword, but I can say that I do need to break this new one in."

Following along side his samurai brother-in-arms, they appeared to be in a den of thieves and miscreants.  Apparently, Baldur had got some very important dungeon maps recently that applied to the whereabouts of this particular group of assassins.  There were a few dark elves that sprung out of the shadows to stop their attempts, but the speed of Baldur's blade made them a trivial thing.  As the rubble that would break from the upper terrace fell down around them, the hunter shrugged.

"Let's not keep them waiting any more than we have, then!"

Seeing as this was a third tier dungeon, if this was anything like the sub-dungeons from before, then the hunter was prepared to summon up his strongest sword art.  Running over to a closed door, he could immediately sense a couple enemies on the other side, through his search / reveal / detect combination.

"Knock knock!"

He would call out while raising his leg to kick down the door. 

"Who goes there?!"

Slamming his foot down, the activation for Galaxy Destroyer would set in.  The door would swing open while the large arc of his sword would cut through the doorway, slashing one of the oddly cloaked dark elves on the other side.

"The door!"

Unfortunately, the one that answered the door was flung away from the impact of his blade, just in time.  He was spared from the deep gash that the other extremist would have, but all were still alive.

'Not nearly enough.'

[192182] [BD: 2+3=5] Miss
[192206] [BD: 6+3] Hit (23x17=391-90=301 dmg)
[Galaxy Destroyer -12+-2 EN]

[H:0] Baldur | HP 820/820 | EN 81/96 | DMG 25 | ACC 5 | EVA 2 | BH 41 | REC +4 | MIT 78
[H:1] Hirru | HP 720/720 | EN 96/110 | DMG 23 | ACC 3 | EVA 1 | ENV 32 | MIT 107 {SA Count: G.A.: 5/4}
Dark Elf Extremist 1 | HP 450/450 | DMG 225 | MIT: 90 | ACC: 1 | EVA: 0 
Dark Elf Extremist 2 | HP 149/450 | DMG 225 | MIT: 90 | ACC: 1 | EVA: 0 

Edited by Hirru
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  • 2 weeks later...

"The door!"

Hirru shouted just after he kicked down a door and cut most of a room in half with his AoE sword art. It was an impressive blow he leveled at everyone. Baldur scanned the room quickly, trying to decide what his friend meant. The first elf was rapidly losing HP when Baldur's steel blue eyes found the second. <<Dark Elf Extremist>> looked to be gathering itself for an attack on them but Baldur was just a hair faster. He rushed forward, driving his sword through the dark elf, his blade blazing with the light of coldfire. As he pulled it free, the elf was frozen solid in a block of ice, and Baldur was fine leaving it there.

"If you've got another AoE, I think you can take them both out!" he called to his verdant haired friend. "I got this one over here pretty good.

The other one, whom Baldur had dismissed as its HP was dropping, stood up and rushed forward, digging it's sickly twisted kryss into Hirru's side. It dealt a significant portion of Hirru's HP, but not as much as Baldur had been worried. He must have a decent mitigation. The gaijin samurai let out a breath he didn't know he was carrying since it looked like the Jade hunter could still take a hit.

ID#193147 BD: 9 (Crit) Zekkai vs Dark Elf 1, CD6 +4 energy
25+1=26 x 14 DMG = 364 NET - 90 MIT = 274 DMG dealt
12 Energy, -1 (housing), -2 Stamina, +4 regen, +4 energy recovery

MD: 5+1-2=4 vs Baldur (miss)  Frozen

ID#193148 MD: 9 (crit) 225 DMG - 207 MIT = 118 DMG Dealt to Hirru

[H:2] Baldur | HP 820/820 | EN 80/96 | DMG 25 | ACC 5 | EVA 2 | BH 41 | REC +4 | MIT 78
[H:1] Hirru | HP 602/720 | EN 96/110 | DMG 23 | ACC 3 | EVA 1 | ENV 32 | MIT 107 {SA Count: G.A.: 5/4}
Dark Elf Extremist 1 | HP 120/450 | DMG 225 | MIT: 90 | ACC: 1 | EVA: 0 | FROZEN  | BURNING (1/2) 56 DMG
Dark Elf Extremist 2 | HP 149/450 | DMG 225 | MIT: 90 | ACC: 1 | EVA: 0

Edited by Baldur
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The dull pressure that would come about from the crooked dagger seemed to fade just as quickly as it came.  The dark elf extremist that had attacked him had reeled back while spouting some nonsense about killing all of us interlopers, until he saw the small symbol of royalty upon Hirru's headband.  His eyes would widen before squinting sharply, as if to say: 'there is no way'.

"How do you, an outsider and intruder to our home, carry the symbol of the royal family?!"

The hunter took this as a small sign that the item was good for something, but not much anywhere except the 23rd floor.  The hunter gave a sharp look towards the extremist before responding to Baldur.

"Unfortunately, it seems like two handed straight swords got.. what was it?  Nerfed?  Anyway, there are some sword arts that I learned, while watching Mac, that don't seem to do what they used to."

He would pull his sword across his shoulder before the sword art's activation light would ring out.  The sword art would rocket him forward before slashing twice into the creature and following the whole thing with a final smash of the pommel.

"To let you know, I've betrayed my people, just like you did."

The hunter would whisper into the ear of the extremist before it keeled over and shattered into thousands of light shards, for their lunar mother to reclaim.  He would look to Baldur before the sword art would freeze him in place.

"As far as I remember, Tempest used to be able to hit multiple opponents at one time, but now.. it's just a stun attack.  I don't have any strong AOE, other than Galaxy Destroyer."

[193498] [BD:4+3=7] Hit
[Tempest -10 EN] 23*14=322-90= 232 Dmg

[H:2] Baldur | HP 820/820 | EN 74/96 | DMG 25 | ACC 5 | EVA 2 | BH 41 | REC +4 | MIT 78
[H:1] Hirru | HP 602/720 | EN 96/110 | DMG 23 | ACC 3 | EVA 1 | ENV 32 | MIT 107 {SA Count: G.A.: 4/4 | TP: 3/2}
Dark Elf Extremist 1 | HP 120/450 | DMG 225 | MIT: 90 | ACC: 1 | EVA: 0 | FROZEN  | BURNING (1/2) 56 DMG
Dark Elf Extremist 2 | HP 0/450 | DMG 225 | MIT: 90 | ACC: 1 | EVA: 0

Edited by Hirru
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"That's too bad. I thought you'd still have more AoE than that. I know right now I'm deeper in my bench of sword arts than I usually would be."

Hirru seemed to be very proficient with the two-hand sword, but then Baldur realized he didn't yet have a way to contextualize whether Hirru or himself were proficient with their new weapons. It would take a lot of trial and error to figure out what was actually optimal versus how they normally went about things. Perhaps that's another area training would come in handy. Get a couple of wooden swords and let people go at it.

Instead of focusing on Hirru, Baldur turned his steel blue eyes back to the remaining dark elf and the gaijin samurai stepped into a stance he wasn't normally seen using, though he practiced all of them in his dojo.

Suddenly the system took over and he rushed forward with a downward strike that sent the last dark elf into the floor with so much force that he bounced into the air like this was some kind of side view fighting game, then Baldur took him with an upward strike, sending the body high into the air again, and when it was just barely eye level, Baldur thrust forward, skewering the body of the dark elf and causing it to explode into a shower of twinkling polygons.

"That's one I haven't used in a long time."

He whipped his sword around and sheathed it.

"Do you need a minute to regen some hit points before we move on to the boss of the dungeon?"

Baldur uses <<Hi Ougi>> x9, 9 EN 135 damage after mit, 225 DMG RAW
ID#194036 BD: 3+5=8 (hit) CD: 9 (+4 Energy!)
Hi Ouig: 25x9= 225 RAW - 90 MIT = 135 DMG Dealt
(-9) -7 EN, (-2 Stamina) +4 Regen, +4 Energy
ID for loot: 194046 LD: 8

[H:0] Baldur | HP 820/820 | EN 75/96 | DMG 25 | ACC 5 | EVA 2 | BH 41 | REC +4 | MIT 78
[H:0] Hirru | HP 602/720 | EN 96/110 | DMG 23 | ACC 3 | EVA 1 | ENV 32 | MIT 107 {SA Count: G.A.: 4/4 | TP: 3/2}
Dark Elf Extremist 1 | HP 0/450 | DMG 225 | MIT: 90 | ACC: 1 | EVA: 0 | FROZEN  | BURNING (1/2) 56 DMG

Edited by Baldur
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With the death of the final enemy within that room, the hunter could relax a little bit.  Throughout the room, there didn't seem to be anything in particular that required investigation.  Just a mostly empty room with a few tables and chairs here and there.  There were some things hanging on the wall, but the hunter didn't know if they were really important or not.  If they were, they were in a dialect that he couldn't read just yet.  Over time, and a little luck, he may be able to learn it all.

Turning back to Baldur, he shrugged while holding the envenomed blade.

"I have one more sword art before I turn to the third ranked arts.  Could use some time for Galaxy and Tempest to come off this heavier cooldown system."

He said while walking over to the next door.  He took a chair and wedged it under the handles, just in case the next creature in this dungeon decided to roll up to their slumber party.

"I still need work on these two handed sword arts, too.  I'm mostly only going by my small glimpses from Macradon's moves.  Other than that, some of the sword arts were written down and recorded for other players.  So, I'm slowly relearning how to plant my foot down, instead of the faster movements of the one handed straight sword.  There could be another AOE in my skill set that I haven't tried yet."

HP regen +44 / Energy regen 1/3 {SA Count: G.A.: 3/4 | TP: 2/2}

Edited by Hirru
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  • 2 weeks later...

"There are definitely worse people you could emulate than Macradon." Baldur said with a smile as he righted one of the chairs and sat down. It was good to take a minute and let Hirru recharge his sword arts, they would be facing the boss monster next, and who knew what that would look like.

"All in all, I think we're doing pretty good though. I haven't used my newest sword art yet, but that is because the cooldown is longer, and we haven't needed it yet. For the boss, we'll want to unload on it with everything we have. I have the <<bull rush>> mod, so I can stun it with my opening, strongest attack. So let's get your stuff recharged and we'll really let loose on the boss."

The smile on his face was casual and calm. He hadn't seen anything that would put his nerves on end, so this was just a fun excursion with a good old friend.

"I'm glad you're considering joining us, but also glad that you're reconnecting with people and apologizing. I don't know what Mac will be like, but I've been wanting to get him to join us a Jacob's Ladder for a while as well. He's good people, and has done a good job of helping out new people as well. We've also teamed up with Raidou's guild, I'm not sure if you're familiar with him, but that's how we were able to stock the raid. We supplied him with a tremendous amount of materials, and he had a long enough time to craft a good stock of them. I think this next raid will look very different."

Baldur nodded his head towards Hirru's newish sword, "So what do you have there? New blade since it's two handed, but what do you have on there?"

(1/2 rounds out of combat before complete regen)

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"It doesn't help that we didn't have many two handed sword users except Mac, until now.  Everyone was mostly one handed straight sword, or one of the more powerful two handed weaponry varieties.  So, my only model for my arts has been Mac."

He sighed while also pulling over a seat across from his azure friend.  While thinking about Mac, he grinned harder and harder before a little laugh came from his lips.  It must be the peaceful nature of the current situation, as they were in no real danger, but he felt much more open with Baldur around.

"You know, I was planning to go two handed for a while, but I never got to it in time.  I wanted to become an AOE duo with Macradon and just raze hell on floor bosses.  Remember that 'Galaxy Breaker' that the both of us conducted on the 20th floor boss?  Mothra, wasn't it?  Yeah, we were planning that so hard, but we didn't figure the creature's health was that much more, and Ariel got the kill."

Hirru's smile was genuinely wide and filled with happiness.  It fell into a somber note though.

"I guess that is a distant memory now.  Not just in my relationships, but with two handed straight sword no longer being one of the better AOE weapons.  I guess I chose poorly when I wanted to change my stats.  Maybe when I get join you guys, I can look into something a little more proper.  I haven't met Raidou or any of his guild members, but hopefully they could help me out with some proper gear and items too."

When the gesture towards his sword was given, the hunter pulled it up across his lap.  A bit longer than a longsword, but not as weighty as his other blades that he used.  The blade itself was straight until it reached the very tip which split into two curved points, like a snake's tongue, or a spider's fangs.  He didn't know what this 'Shelob' was, but it was Shield that appraised it.  Every so often, a yellowish green film could be seen covering the blade.

"I got this from Shield, it's called Shelob's Fang?  Apparently, it was one of many that he appraised a unique enhancement on.  Though, it was an perfect assault spear when I got it from him, the update gave me an equipment slot that could be upgraded into anything, so I made it into a tier 4 perfect Two Handed Straight Sword.  So far, it has a single slot of Accuracy, which helps with my trinket; a single slot of paralysis; and, it's unique enhancement of Envenom.  Supposedly, it's a DoT that would do 32 damage for 4 turns, however, I haven't had it ever affect anything yet."

HP regen +44 / Energy regen 2/3 {SA Count: G.A.: 2/4 | TP: 1/2}

Edited by Hirru
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"I think you'll find more two hand straight sword users these days. It has seemed to grow in popularity before this, but AoE weapons have become the most common place weapon." Baldur slowly stood up and brushed dust and dirt off his his hakama, even though none existed there in the world of Aincrad.

"The most important thing is to be comfortable with your weapon, and be effective at it. So far, you seem to be doing well at both. I know it's been a while but I feel like your combat effectiveness as really grown, especially thinking back to the time we almost got burried in that ant hill." Baldur smirked at the memory. It had been a traumatic moment, but the two of them had pulled through and become closer for it. As much as Baldur had felt betrayed but Hirru at the time of the floor 23 boss fight, he knew that Hirru would always have his back. It was why Baldur had responded so viscerally to his actions at the time.

"I feel like I've heard the name Shelob's Fang before. Perhaps from Beat, though I've only partied with him a few times. It sounds like a good sword, though I'm always after Absolute Accuracy ever sine what happened in the floor 24 labyrinth guardian fight. I'll never forgive myself for what happened there because I missed a couple of critical attacks." He was still frustrated from that fight, but it was more behind him now.

"By the way, if you're interested, I've opened up a dojo at my house, for people to come and train together in safe way. You're always welcome to do it. I have everyone use wooden swords, so no matter how well built someone is, its perfectly safe. And I'd be very interested in getting you and Shield together as some of the best scouts I know of. I have a few items I've never seen before, and figuring out a way to farm these would definitely be beneficial to everyone.

He wiped his hands clean of imaginary dust and rested his left hand on the handle of his katana.

"Well, all of my cooldowns are up. How long until your big gun is ready?"

(Energy Regen 2/2: Housing Bonus: Baldur is at full energy, and all sword art cooldowns have reset)

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Hirru pursed his lips while thinking upon the matter.  Was he really happy with two handed straight sword, as it was?  He would have to look into alternatives, or possibly making it better. 

"We've all come a long way from what we used to be.  Though, practice does help.  I'll certainly look into your dojo then.  If I'm staying there, I might as well train myself harder while looking for new ways to improve myself."

The hunter opened his menu with a swipe of his fingers, he would find the skills icon and tap it.  From there, he could see his entire skills layout lay before him.  Two handed straight sword, Heavy armor, and Search were his predominant skills that he had maxed out already, then his two newest additions: Energist and Combat Mastery: Damage.  The both of them together really started to help him with his energy conservation and weaponry options.

"I wouldn't mind Absolute Accuracy myself, if I could reroll Shelob's accuracy or paralysis for it, I would.  Though, I guess I could at any time really, since I'm an appraiser too.  It's just not worth the gamble right now."

While talking, Hirru was still looking at those skills, underneath his Charge skill and several mods, there was a weird blip that the hunter had been noticing recently.  He remembered that this was normally when a new skill was open to a player, and they could choose to accept or ignore it.  However, this one was different.  <<Custom Skill Acquisition>>, it was all that came up when he selected it, but he didn't understand it.  He would have to ask Baldur about it sometime.

However, as he was about to, the samurai seemed to be already energized and ready for battle.  That was much quicker than Hirru had anticipated.

"Whoa now!  I'm just getting there!  Is that another perk from housing?  I'm barely even finished with my most powerful art."

He asked while getting up himself, and stretching some nonexistent muscular tension out of his shoulders and arms.  He then rested Fang over his shoulder very carefully, as not to hit himself with his own poison.

"If you want to, you can start us off and I'll come in after.  Should be off it's cooldown by then."

HP regen +44 (Full Health achieved)/ Energy regen 3/3 (Full Energy recharge){SA Count: G.A.: 1/4 | TP: 0/2}

Edited by Hirru
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  • 2 weeks later...

Baldur stood up suddenly with a smile, and moved the chair Hirru had placed at the door keeping it closed and them safe from anything that could potentially come and harm them while they rested and gathered their energy. He placed his hand on the door knob and began to pull it open.

"Alright, you ready?"

Suddenly the door exploded, much as it had when Hirru had kicked it in, but this time it was their room. Black ichor filled the room and Baldur's limbs felt sluggish. He hadn't taken any damage, but he didn't feel like he could move very well, either.

"Well, well, well. What do we have here? A pair of filthy human meddlers and-"

The Dark Elf's eyes focused on the badge of honor Hirru wore, making him as a favored of the dead queen.

"Where did you you find something like that, scum?!" The Dark Elf whirled to face Hirru, and Baldur strained against the system, refusing to admit defeat and allow his friend to be hurt again.

Baldur tore against the darkness until the sensation was the closest to pain he had ever experienced in SAO. Suddenly, the effect limiting his movement ended and Baldur erupted from the wall he had been held against like a force of nature. The single arc of light that normally would have filled the room instead was almost invisible as if looking at the side of a ribbon, and before anyone, even Baldur, could blink, he was on the other side of the room and a clap like thunder filled the room, wind and debris moving in his wake as the Boss' HP plunged and he was left stunned where he had come into the room.

ID#195277 BD: 8 (focus crit) +5-1-1=hit, CD: 7 = +4 Energy
Iai: 25+5+1=31*16=496 RAW - 150 MIT = 346 DMG Dealt, -21 EN

[H:2] Baldur | HP 820/820 | EN 79/96 | DMG 25 | ACC 5 | EVA 2 | BH 41 | REC +4 | MIT 78
[H:0] Hirru | HP 720/720 | EN 110/110 | DMG 23 | ACC 3 | EVA 1 | ENV 32 | MIT 107 
Dark Elf Antiroyalist | HP 854/1200 | DMG 270 | MIT 150 | ACC 1 | EVA 1 | Crit 9 = 300DMG + 150 AOE | Crit 10 = 330 DMG+225 AOE [STUNNED]

Edited by Baldur
BD8 is a focus critical hit, adjusting stats
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