Valhalla online, p.1
Valhalla Online, page 1part #1 of Ragnarok Saga Series
A Ragnarok Saga LitRPG Story
Role of the Hero Publishing
Copyright © 2017, 2018 by Kevin O. McLaughlin
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, businesses, events, or locales is purely coincidental.
A Sneak Peek from Book 2: “Raiding Jotunheim”, available now!
Other Books by Kevin McLaughlin
About the Author
Samantha woke with a groggy feeling. No, it was worse than that. This felt more like a five-alarm hangover. Shit, what had she been drinking? She had to get up and be ready for PT by eight, and then duty until god-damned five o’clock. It was going to be a long f-ing day.
She reached over to slap the obnoxious ringing of her phone alarm and check the time. Maybe she could snooze another eight minutes. Her hand passed right through where the phone should have rested on her night-stand, hitting nothing but air.
Bolting upright in an instant and regretting it, Sam peeled her burning eyelids open and looked around.
“What the hell?” she said. Her head was still pounding in time with the banging of some sort of alarm. It sounded like a gong? Who was beating a gong?
It wasn’t until her eyes were open that Sam became aware something was terribly, horribly wrong. Either she was in the middle of the must f-ed up nightmare she’d ever had, or… The thought trailed off. She didn’t have another good answer.
She wasn’t in her bed. Or her room. Or her cute cubby of an apartment in the junior officer barracks at Fort Drum. Sam wasn’t sure where she was, but she very clearly was not in the proverbial Kansas anymore!
The bed she was laying on was a mattress of rough cloth over a frame made of heavy sticks. Whatever the mattress was stuffed with didn’t feel very comfortable either. Bits of it stuck up through the cloth and stabbed her skin. The sheet covering her was more of the same thick cloth as the mattress.
It looked a little like a bed she might have imagined a prisoner slept on. If the prisoner were living in another century, or some Third World country.
The room was just as strange. All the walls were made of stone, the floor and ceiling too. Heavy timbers were spaced about the walls, which supported more beams that criss-crossed the ceiling. The room wasn’t large, but had a dozen beds in it. She’d been in enough barracks rooms to recognize the look.
That gong was going to drive her crazy if they didn’t knock it off. Her headache was beginning to fade, but it was hard to think. Sam went back over what she could last recall, trying to figure out how she’d gotten from there to here. Wherever here was.
She’d pulled a double shift yesterday. There was a missing man investigation she was involved in. Except it hadn’t just been one person missing. There were three recent disappearances, and Sam’s gut said there was a link connecting them. It was a slim lead, but enough that she’d started doing some snooping around the base. She remembered driving her car. She was supposed to be meeting someone, but for the life of her she couldn’t remember who.
Her brain was usually sharp as a tack. Why was she having such a hard time remembering things? She could recall what she had for breakfast the morning before: two hard-boiled eggs, toast, three strips of bacon, all chowed down in the First Brigade dining facility after PT. She thought their DFAC served the best food on base, and as an MP she had a little more freedom to move around than most grunts would.
But everything after that was hazy, and the later in the day the less clear her memory became. Had she been drugged? Hauled off somewhere?
Sam took stock of her situation. She wasn’t tied down. There were no handcuffs, and she didn’t seem to be injured. There was a strange looking little dot in the lower left corner of her vision, though. She glanced at it, and it lit up.
Without warning an apparition of a woman appeared at the foot of her bed. Her outfit was almost as uncanny as her sudden appearance. She was wearing some sort of linked ring armor, and what looked like a steel medieval helmet on her head. To top it off she was holding a six foot spear in her right hand.
Sam scuttled away from the woman, or whatever she was. At first she was backing away from the crazy person holding the weapon, but the woman didn’t move toward her in a threatening manner. She just stood there smiling.
People did not just appear out of thin air. More sure than ever she was having a dream, she wanted some answers anyway.
“Who the hell are you?” Sam asked.
“I am your Tutorial Guide!” the woman said with a cheerful smile. “You may call me Helga.”
“Helga, where the hell am I?”
“You are in Valhalla Online, the final resting place of the deserving. Where those who earned honor in life get to carry on in battle, mead, and song for all eternity through the magic of modern technology,” Helga said.
It sounded like a corporate spiel. She did catch the word ‘online’ though. Suddenly everything made a little more sense.
“I’m gonna kill Jeff, when I get my fingers around his neck,” Sam said. She waved her arm around the room. “None of this is real, is it?”
“You’re correct. Everything you see is a virtual representation. Lines of code, brought to life for you,” Helga said. “Everything will feel, taste, and sound just like the real thing.”
Definitely had to be Jeff. Captain Jeffrey Hunter was a computer geek who worked in Brigade headquarters, doing classified stuff of the sort that he joked about having to shoot anyone he told about. He’d bragged to her about this gadget he’d bought, a full immersion virtual reality suit. You put on the suit, connect to the ‘Net, and bang! There you were, in some alternate reality. Except it was all a game, a fake reality where nerds hung out and beat on each other because they didn’t have a life.
That was Sam’s take on things, anyway. Jeff had seemed more than a little hurt when she’d told him as much. Her gut said this was his way of getting back at her. Somehow he’d hooked her up to his machine and plunked her into this world. She’d tear his head off when she got out.
“OK, Jeff. Let me out. NOW!” Sam said to the air.
There wasn’t any answer. Fine. Let him have his fun, for now. She’d figure out how to log off he
A niggling voice in the back of her head suggested that it might not be Jeff. That with that suit tech, anyone could kidnap any person they wanted and potentially lock them into a world for as long as they desired. She shoved away the thought as paranoid. It had to be Jeff. Occam’s razor said the most likely solution was probably the correct one.
“Helga, how do I log off?” she asked.
“I’m sorry, I don’t have an answer for that question,” Helga responded.
“How do I leave the game?” she said, trying different words.
“I’m sorry, I don’t have an answer for that question,” the guide repeated.
Sam frowned. That seemed to be some sort of stock answer. Basic code that covered any situation that it wasn’t programmed to handle. Why was getting out of the game not covered under basic help? Shouldn’t that be one of the most important things to know?
The voice in the back of her head tried to rear up again, warning her that this could be anyone, and she could be anywhere. She shoved it down again. It took a little more effort this time.
“Congratulations!” Helga said. “You’ve arrived in the middle of an Epic Battle!”
Sam could almost hear the capital letters around Epic Battle. “Are those the alarms I am hearing?”
“Yes! The keep is under attack. The enemy will attempt to scale the walls, slay everyone inside, and tear your team’s banner down from the highest tower,” Helga said. “Your mission is to prevent this.”
“My mission is to get the hell out of this stupid game,” Sam growled. She didn’t have time for this bullshit. But Helga kept smiling, ignoring her words.
“You will need this gift to help you defend the keep,” Helga said, handing her the spear she carried. Sam took it carefully. The haft was longer than she was tall, the there was a leaf-bladed tip placed on one end, about the size of her hand.
The last thing she wanted was to play ball here. She stood up from the bed to set the spear against the wall beside her, which gave her a first good look at herself. The clothing made her growl again. She wasn’t wearing much. A leather halter covered her breasts, and tight cloth shorts made of some moderately translucent cloth clad her legs down to a few inches above her knees. Her feet were bare. Someone was definitely going to pay for this.
“I want out. Now!” Sam yelled at the guide.
“To go out, exit this door. You can climb up the stairs to the ramparts, or down to enter the courtyard,” Helga said. “Can I assist you any further?”
“No,” Sam said. “You haven’t helped me at all.”
“Good luck!” Helga said, still beaming the same fixed smile. Then she vanished the same way she had appeared.
“God damn…” Sam started to say. Before she could start swearing a blue streak, there was a commotion from outside the door Helga had pointed to. She froze, keeping quiet out of instinct. The noise grew louder, a clash of steel on steel. There were grunts and a cry of pain. Then silence.
Sam remained as motionless as possible. A trickle of sweat ran down her forehead, the small reminder of reality in stark contrast to the idea that this was some sort of game.
The door swung inward with a crash. Two men walked in. They were big. Each was at least six feet tall. Both had beards and long dark hair. Each of them wore heavy leather over their torsos. One had a spear, and the other was carrying a sword. They both looked across at her and sneered. Spear guy’s sneer had an edge that Sam particularly didn’t care for. Her fingers twitched toward her own spear out of reflex.
“Newb,” the man with the sword said. “Want to leave her be?”
“Easy XP,” the spearman said, shrugging.
“Good point,” the first man replied. “Sorry honey. This won’t hurt too much.”
Then the two men raised their weapons and began to advance across the floor toward Sam.
As the two men advanced on her, Sam took stock of her situation. The weapons they carried looked real enough. So did the blood dripping down their blades. She reminded herself again and again that this whole thing wasn’t real. She was in a simulation. It was just a game. The way the guide had appeared and then vanished proved that, even if nothing else would.
The problem was it didn’t feel like a game. She could smell something burning nearby, a little of the smoke wafting into the room now that the door was open. There was nothing artificial about the way the men advancing on her moved, or the grim look they both wore on their faces. She might know this wasn’t real, but part of her brain was screaming at her that it was real enough to be afraid of those weapons.
“Guys, look. Can we talk about this?” she said.
“Not personal, honey, but we have to end you to win,” the spearman said. “Don’t worry. This won’t hurt much.”
“Look how scared she is. Newbie,” the swordsman chuckled. “Damn, girl. Dying ain’t that bad. We’re all dead in this place anyway.”
Sam wasn’t sure what he meant by that, but she wasn’t going to sit around while they stuck steel into her. She reached over and snatched the spear from where she’d set it against the wall. The staff felt unfamiliar in her hand, but it wasn’t the first time she’d used a long weapon. She’d done pretty well in the pugil stick pits at West Point.
That had been a couple of years ago, though. And those sticks hadn’t been pointy. She took the spear in a two-handed grip with the point aimed in the direction of the men.
“Oh, the pup is trying to bare fangs, huh?” the spearman said.
“Flank her,” the swordsman said. “This is already more work than she’s worth for XP. Let’s finish this.”
The two men split up, coming at her from opposite sides. Sam tried to adjust her position to prevent being surrounded, but the room was too large, and she was too far from a corner to make it into one. She jabbed out with the spear to keep the swordsman away. He chuckled in response. Her spear hadn’t come closer than a couple of feet from his body.
Sam sensed more than heard the spearman move, and shifted the pole of her spear just in time to block a stab. Her block saved her, sending the spear tip grazing across her back instead of sliding into her abdomen. The pain was real enough…but less severe than she’d expected. She knew that the blade had cut deep enough to cause drips of blood to well up across her lower back, but it felt more like a cat scratch than a serious blow.
“See, it won’t even hurt much,” the swordsman crooned to her. “We’ll make it quick.”
“Like hell,” she growled. She was tired of playing defensive games. That wasn’t going to help her. Game or not, there was a part of Sam that wanted to be the best. At pretty much anything she did. That drive had gotten her into West Point, had carried her from there into her career beyond. Whether or not she wanted to be in this stupid game, a couple of smug assholes were not going to get the better of her without feeling it.
She whirled back on the swordsman, lashing out with her spear. Rather than stabbing, this time she used the blade like the tip of a long knife. It raked across at his head height. He blocked with his sword, but he was nowhere near as good with his weapon as he seemed to think he was. She whipped the spear back from where he’d blocked it and thrust it in toward his gut.
The leather chest plate he wore blocked a lot of the blow, but she could tell the tip had gone in at least a little. The swordsman staggered back, his free hand covering the spot she’d stabbed.
Sam had only a moment to feel satisfaction before a sharp pain flashed in her leg. It felt like the worst muscle cramp ever. Not a blinding pain, but intense enough that she winced as she looked down.
The spearman had used her moment of distraction to stab her leg with his own weapon. He withdrew the spear head from her leg. The feeling of the steel leaving her body as she watched, of feeling blood drip down freely from her leg, was dizzying. For a
With an effort she focused on remembering that this was all a game. The wound was not real. The body she was playing in here was not real. This was a make-believe computer generated illusion. Even if it did hurt.
“Bitch. We were going to make it easy for you,” the swordsman said, wincing and clutching at his wound. She must have hit him harder than she’d thought. “Now we’re going to kill you slow.”
Sam swung her spear in an arc, trying to keep both of the men at bay. There was no way to attack one without the other immediately closing on her, and they knew it as well as she did. In another minute they would rush her, and she’d feel their steel. Again. She wondered what dying would be like in this game. Her leg and back still throbbed from the injuries she’d sustained. She had a feeling this wasn’t going to be fun.
“Or you could pick on someone your own size,” drawled a voice from the doorway.
He was an old man with snow white hair and a white beard that looked like it might once have been red. He was short, only an inch or two taller than Sam’s five foot six. But his shoulders were broad, stocky, and well-muscled. He also seemed to have a lot more armor than the men Sam was facing. He wore a shirt made of connected rings of steel, a lot like the one the Helga-guide had worn. His legs and arms were also armored with thick blue-dyed leather reinforced with strips of steel. He was carrying both a hand axe and a shield.
by Kevin McLaughlin have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes