The Black Dragon

The Black Dragon

Dragon Kings of the New World

Dante Doom

Contents

Dragon Kings of the New World

The Black Dragon

Blurb

Dante Doom

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Epilogue

End of The Black Dragon

Thank you!

Sneak Peak

Dragon Kings of the New World

The Star Dragon

The Black Dragon

The Iron Dragons

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales, is entirely coincidental.

RELAY PUBLISHING EDITION, OCTOBER 2017

Copyright © 2017 Relay Publishing Ltd.

All rights reserved. Published in the United Kingdom by Relay Publishing. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

www.relaypub.com

Blurb

Mysteries abound as a dangerous game becomes deadly…

Dedicated gamer Van and his CIA agent partner Sang have successfully infiltrated Dragons of the New World, but the further they go, the more questions arise. They return to find that the in-game kingdom of Silver Peak, which Van once ruled as one of the most powerful players in the game, has now fallen into disrepair. There they recruit a mercenary party of adventurers from among Van’s old comrades and venture to find the hidden realm of Bloodrock—which Van suspects could hold the key to the game’s mysterious origins.

Before they can do that, however, they must complete a series of high-level missions to access the new region. These quests will test the new group—and their fast-growing dragon—to the limit of their abilities, intelligence and resourcefulness as they push to get to Bloodrock before it’s too late.

Each day of gameplay increases their strength, reveals new secrets and prepares them for the tough battles ahead. But nothing can prepare them for the discovery upon breaking into the fortress of Bloodrock… what they find there could jeopardize their entire mission—and the fate of the world.

Dante Doom

Dante Doom didn’t touch a videogame or fantasy book until his 23rd year on Earth. He started working at an old-school arcade—hired primarily, he was told, because of his “badass ridiculous name”—and from then his education began. They started him on the classics, a strict diet of Pac-Man, Galaga, Donkey Kong, Asteroids, Dig Dug, Street Fighter, and Rampage.

Freakish proficiency. Beginners luck, they said. He was given well-loved copies of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind and Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon Riders of Pern.

Devoured in days. Finally, he was invited up to the arcade owner’s private gaming room: Battletoads, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES), and Ghosts ‘n Goblins followed. Defeated, at last—maybe he wasn’t such a wunderkid, after all. But he didn’t give up. And that earned him a seat at the group’s D&D table. Many a happy day has passed since—he even beat TMNT’s Dam level and its health-draining pink seaweed.

Then a year ago, that same group introduced him to the new Fantasy-LitRPG genre—what Dante saw as the final stage in his education. Because, for him, it doesn’t get any better than LitRPG. The combination of an immersive fantasy world, gaming objectives and levelled progression makes for a fascinating storytelling experience. Inspired, he took two weeks holiday from the arcade, sat down and wrote the Dragon Kings of the New World series.

Find out what Dante is up to next at:

www.DanteDoom.com

www.facebook.com/DanteDoomBooks

Prologue

Van stared at the long, silver tube. He felt a shiver run down his spine as he remembered the last time he had been inside of that machine. A few weeks ago, he had been fighting for his life inside of that thing. His body had been perfectly still; the only parts of him that would move when he was inside of that tube were his eyes. He could remember the feeling of pain, too—the deep sensation of agony as he’d broken his bones from an impact. The simulation had ceased to be fun, and had grown far too real for his taste. And now… now he was going to be crawling right back into it.

“You look worried,” said a gentle voice beside him. Van glanced over to see one of the nurses quietly preparing the station. She smiled at him reassuringly. “These things are brand new, Van. The haptic pods are perfectly safe.”

“Were they safe for Trefor?” Van replied, putting a hand on the silver tube. A few weeks ago, he had been high on adrenaline, ready for anything, but now that he’d had more time to think, he realized just how real the danger of death was. The CIA had found the corpse of a young man in one of those tubes. They had kicked down the door to Trefor’s apartment, only to be greeted by a terrified staff of attendants.

Those people were supposed to have been the ones in charge of taking care of Trefor while he’d rested in a comatose state, playing the game professionally for Draco. According to Trefor’s head nurse, everything had been fine. His vitals were perfect, the game was running smoothly, and there were no errors being reported with the pod. Then, in a single moment, Trefor had been unable to breathe. He’d died a few moments later.

The autopsy had been revealing; it showed that Trefor’s spine had been severed at the neck in a single motion. The forensic pathologist’s office notes stated, “His spine was broken as if a pair of jaws closed around it.” Trefor’s body had been killed in the exact same way that his character had died. This was no coincidence, Van knew. Draco had either killed him or allowed him to die in real life. And this was the same fate awaiting Van, should their mission fail.

“There he is!” said a cheerful Sang. Van turned to face her and saw that she was beaming at him.

“Why are you so happy?” Van asked.

“Are you kidding me?” Sang asked, stretching her arms. “That vacation was terrible! There was nothing to do in that stupid country.”

“Nothing to do? Sang, we hiked, we ate the local cuisine, you took a four-day sojourn into the wilderness... we did a lot.”

“Yeah, but we didn’t get any work done!” Sang replied as she ran her hand over the haptic pod. “I think I’m ready to admit I’m a workaholic.”

“Yeah, well, if I could do nothing for the rest of my life, I would,” Van replied.

“Once we’re done with this mission, you can go right back to doing nothing,” Sang answered.

“I cannot believe you are this cheerful,” Van said. “You know we’re about to go into enemy territory again, right? We could die.”

“Die? Feh, we’re fine. I’ve been studying nonstop on Draco’s security systems. We’ve got this. Van, we have the entire government aiding us on this whole thing. We’re gonna do just fine.”

Van didn’t reply. He just quietly stared at the tube.

“You’re nervous, aren’t you?” Sang asked.

Van nodded, but didn’t speak. He felt his heart in his throat as he looked at the tube.

“Hey, man, listen, I know it was kind of crazy last time we were in there, but this is different. We’ve got a full team backing us up now. They think they’ve figured out how to eject us anytime the game gets crazy. We aren’t going to die in there. We’re going to march in there, do some reconnaissance, and kick some weird alien ass. How does that sound?”

Van looked up at her and met her gaze. She seemed strong, confident and ready for action. The way she held herself was reassuring, as there was nothing but excitement and hunger in her eyes.

“Are… are you sure we can do this?” Van asked.

“Where is this coming from?” Sang responded, slapping him on the shoulder. “I thought you were an expert gamer who wasn’t afraid of anything.”

“When I was an expert gamer, the only thing I was worried about was losing fake internet points and my items,” Van replied. “Not dying. The only time I was worried about death was when I realized I had forgotten to eat for 12 hours straight.”

“Look, you have a choice here, Van. You can step up and serve your country and the world. You can come with me on some incredible adventure, fight bad guys, get paid, and have a blast. Or you can… go home. Buy a little haptic system for yourself. Play this game as just a regular player, and try to pretend that you are blissfully unaware of what’s going on here. You do have a choice, my friend. You can be the PC or the NPC. The hero or the shopkeeper. What’s it gonna be?”

“I’m legitimately surprised you used a gaming term right,” Van said with a smile. “Of course, I’m following you. I just wish I wasn’t this nervous. Trefor’s death spooked me like you wouldn’t believe.”

“I read the autopsy last week; crazy stuff, but don’t worry. We’re going to be fine,” Sang sa ...