Ultimatum: The Proving Grounds

Free Ultimatum: The Proving Grounds by Wade Adrian

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Authors: Wade Adrian
above her palm. She moved her fingers about causing the flames to dance.
    Amos and Tim charged toward the flaming goblins approaching. The rogue cut a pair down with a few strikes each, clearly not showing much effort. The ranger plucked them with arrows from afar, dropping each with three or four shots.
    A loud gong sounded behind Toby and light washed out his screen. He held up a hand to shield his eyes, but it didn’t help at all. The lights passed after a moment on their own.
    The words, “Level 2!” floated before his eyes.
    “Wow.” He shook his head a few times. “That was loud. And bright.” He glanced around to see everyone else tapping spaces in the open air before them.
    He held up his empty hand and pressed on the happy “Level 2!” lettering. His character sheet opened showing stats and his equipped items. He had five stat points to spend.
    Hmm.
    His barbarian brain was arguing that improving his strength was all that mattered. He had a visible carry weight on the sheet, and hovering his finger over strength said it improved that as well as his physical damage.
    But… he also needed to survive what the world was going to throw at him. The sheet listed his health at one hundred, with an additional twenty added when he leveled for a new cap of one hundred and twenty. But he could get five more for each point placed in stamina.
    He knew what Paul would say about surviving and all, but he needed to carry his weight and hit Miller as hard as he could.
    Hell with it. He went for a three two split, strength and stamina. One hundred and thirty hit points, and his carry weight improved by fifteen pounds. Groovy.
    Where the estimate of his physical damage should be there were only a few characters of gobbledygook. Random characters and symbols when he was pretty sure that spot should have discernible numbers.
    He hefted his sword as he closed the window. Only one way to find out what it could do. “My turn?”
    Amos lowered his bow and Tim vanished from the front line in a burst of black smoke and appeared beside the rest of the group. “Go for it.”
    Paul raised his voice as Toby walked away. “I trust you put your points into stamina to make all our lives easier?”
    “I totally put some points into stamina, yes.”
    Paul sighed.
    A blinking light off to Toby’s left was bugging the hell out of him as he walked. He stopped and turned his head a bit, but the light moved with it. He shifted just his eyes, and then swept his empty hand that way.
    Oh. He had received a skill point when he leveled, too. Okay.
    He blinked at the list before him. There were tons. Way to many for him to read through or weigh the pros and cons of right now. Umm… he glanced at the first row. An icon with a sideways V stood out.
    Duo: the second attack in a chain causes additional damage and has greater range.
    Perfect.
    He tapped the icon and closed the window.
    Toby swept the sword through the air before him a few times as he approached a group of goblins. There were red trails arcing behind the blade sometimes, other times nothing. He carefully lined up a horizontal swing with the sword behind him and to the right.
    “Let’s do this you Gremlin knockoffs.”
    The green critters charged in screaming.
    He let loose the horizontal attack. Two of the goblins were caught in its glowing red wake.
    As soon as he sword stopped, he swung back the other way, careful to keep the sword level for a second horizontal slash.
    What followed the blade the second time was different. The red effect grew brighter till its center was tinged with white. The arc behind the blade stretched out beyond the reach of the sword. The blade cleft two more goblins that charged in, but the red energy arc the sword created struck a third that was too far for the metal to touch.
    It fell down in two parts as well.
    Toby stood up straight and looked down at the five dead goblins. He had only swung twice. Everyone else had needed multiple strikes to drop

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