John found himself standing in the midst of a grand hall.
[Welcome to the Dark Lord Game!]
[Total number of players for this round: 10 billion!]
[Players will be categorized into either the "Hero faction" or the "Dark Lord faction."]
[You have been matched as a "Dark Lord." Please remember the following key points:]
[1. Death will result in disqualification from the game!]
[2. Clearing conditions: Achieve complete dominion over, or obliterate, an empire-level power.]
[3. Upon clearing this round, you may choose: return to the real world, stay in this world, or challenge an even more advanced realm!]
[4. There's a three-day protection period. After this, Heroes will be able to sense Dark Lords within a certain range.]
[5. As a Dark Lord, you will be constantly under threat from Heroes, adventurers, legions, or even other Dark Lord factions. If you lack strength, it's imperative to develop discreetly!]
[Please choose the Dark Lord Bloodline you wish to merge with within the next 10 minutes.]
After grasping this information, John was dumbstruck.
"I've... I've been transported!"
"And not just me!"
"Billions, maybe even more, have been transported!"
"We've been involuntarily drawn into this Game of Dark Lords and Heroes. I've been matched with the Dark Lord faction, and now I need to choose my Dark Lord Bloodline..."
It was indeed hard to believe.
However, for John, who had already experienced such a transportation once before, it wasn't entirely inconceivable.
Scanning his surroundings, John noticed countless large eggs floating before him.
Each egg contained a Dark Lord Bloodline.
Players had to choose one to merge with.
This choice was of utmost importance.
It was crucial for the early and mid stages of development.
But the eggs looked identical, with no discernible differences.
And to add to the pressure, there was a time limit for making a choice.
It felt like a lottery.
But just when frustration was setting in, John's vision underwent a strange transformation.
Beside each egg, a faint golden information box appeared.
[Slime (Dark Lord)], low-level Dark Lord. After merging, one can transform into a Slime Dark Lord, activating water-based talents... too weak in the early stages, not recommended.
[Gnoll (Dark Lord)], low-level Dark Lord. After merging, one can transform into a Gnoll Dark Lord, activating scout-based talents... weak in the early stages, not recommended.
"What's going on?"
"Can I see hidden information?"
Elated beyond measure, John wasted no time.
With the attributes of each egg now clear, he hurriedly began searching for the perfect Bloodline.
[Gnome (Dark Lord)], low-level Dark Lord...
[Goblin (Dark Lord)], low-level Dark Lord...
[Spider (Dark Lord)], low-level Dark Lord...
Damn it! While the grand hall contained thousands upon thousands of Dark Lord Bloodlines, each mostly distinct, the vast majority were of the low-level Dark Lord variety.
The Bloodline is the starting point!
Without a formidable Bloodline, how could one ever rise to become a powerful Dark Lord?
[Blood Orc], mid-level Dark Lord...
[Dark Elf], mid-level Dark Lord...
[Demon], mid-level Dark Lord...
Mid-level Dark Lord Bloodlines looked appealing, clearly superior to the lower tiers.
No rush. There's still time. Let's search a bit more.
After sifting through thousands more eggs:
[Bloody Giant], high-level Dark Lord... Recommended.
[Eight-Eyed Spider], high-level Dark Lord... Recommended.
High-level Dark Lord Bloodlines!
Brimming with potential and more expansive room for growth!
They have the capability to outpace 99.9% of other Dark Lord players right from the starting line.
Which to choose?
No, not yet!
With a little over a minute left, he couldn't foreclose on other potential options; a better choice might yet emerge!
Every second counted for John, as he persisted in gathering cues.
Thirty seconds, twenty seconds, ten seconds...
Then, nestled in a corner, an unassuming egg caught his eye.
[Abyssal Dragon King (Dark Lord)], rare Dark Lord... After merging, one can transform into the Abyssal Dragon King, an extraordinarily powerful and rare breed of Dark Lord, possessing both dragonborn and dragon forms, with abilities to activate Magic Immunity, thunder, fire, and other talents... Highly recommended!
"It's you I choose!"
Without a moment's hesitation, John made his choice.
The egg emanated a blinding light, enveloping John.
Swiftly, his form shifted, morphing into a colossal dragon spanning roughly ten meters in length.
Each scale on this magnificent beast shimmered in a dark gold hue, appearing like an intrinsic armor that seemed impervious to any weapon.
"So, this is what becoming a Dark Lord feels like?"
John observed his sharp talons and vast wings.
There wasn't an ounce of discomfort; instead, he could feel every cell in his body pulsating with a terrifying surge of energy.
In that instant, John felt a profound sense of confidence.
It felt as if he had the power to soar across the cosmos and wreak havoc upon the heavens and earth.
Of course, this newfound confidence might be an illusion stemming from his sudden spike in power.
But it also indicated just how formidable he had become...
It was intoxicating, making the game seem not so bad after all!
[Player transformation to Dark Lord complete. Please proceed to officially enter the game!]
The very next moment, eight radiant gates materialized before him.
Each door led to a distinct region, presenting yet another choice for the player to make.