Number three baby! Oooooh yeaaaah! Read it, enjoy it, comment on it! Yeah, do all of that. Once I post a few more chapters, I’m gonna start working on a new thing in conjunction with this thing. Don’t really know what it’ll be about, but I ain’t gonna worry about that yet…
Once I confirmed my username and password, the virtual world began its boot up process. Within seconds, I was lying on cheap mattress supported by a creaky bedpost. “Daemon,” I said as I sat up, “Anything big happen overnight?”
“No progress has been made on the Tower and no spontaneous events triggered in the mainland. The Princess has officially been set up in her suite near the coliseum however.”
“Uh… Thanks? What does that have to do with anything?”
“If you wanna find Gnatz, talking to her would be your best bet.”
“Oh, right…” I stretched out my back as I stood up off the bed. While my character wasn’t experiencing any pain, my back ached in real life. Even though stretching with my character amounted to nothing, I still felt it would help. “God I really don’t wanna talk to her… I’m afraid she’ll kill me.”
“It’s not like you caused her any serious harm or did something that broke the rules of the game.”
“Yeah, yeah…” I opened my inventory, seeing only the gemstone. “I’ll buy some new daggers and some throwing items. Then I’ll talk to the Princess…”
A few minutes later I was out of the inn and walking down the main street. “Alright D, any cheap weapon shops nearby?”
“A few, but do you really wanna get a cheap weapon? You don’t wanna start the Tower with something cheap.”
“Ugh… I guess… I just really wanna save up my money for some custom dragon hide swords.”
“It’s not like you’ll be able to even get them any time soon…”
I shook my head. “Fine, fine, take me to a blacksmith then… I should be able have a smith make me something without spending a ton.”
As I followed the path Daemon set out for me, I took in the city. While this was my second time here, I didn’t have the time to observe my surroundings. New players always start out in Incipio. Their characters initially spawn at the Ruins of the King, the remains of King Abaddon’s castle. There, Russtle, the High Protector of Incipio, gave newbies the run down. Telling them about Incipo, the late King, the Princess, and the Desolate Tower. And after a few introductory quests and missions, the players are allowed to travel across the mainland. I simply traveled with a caravan to a small town a ways away from Incipio. Incipio and most of the surrounding towns and cities were filled with high level players, most willing to kill low players for some easy money and exp. Traveling with a large crowd to a location farther away from the Desolate Tower was the safest way for newbies to survive. Once the players got to 20 plus, they began to venture closer to the Tower.
Daemon pointed to a large shed directly attached to general store once the path I was following ended. “Here’s the blacksmith.”
I looked up at the sign positioned between both buildings. “Magnes’ Shop and Smith, huh? Cool, two birds with one stone.” I walked into the shop, hearing a bell chime above the door.
“Hello, welcome to Magnes’ Shop and Smith,” A pointy eared elf with mossy green hair said. A friendly smile spread across her face.
“Uh, hey there. You’re not Magnes, right?”
“Nope,” the elf answered. “Magnes is currently in the shed.”
“Oh, alright. So should I go there to ask for a weapon to be made?”
“Yes, you can talk to Magnes directly if you’d like a handmade weapon. I’m here if you’d like to buy anything directly.”
“Okay, thank you.”
“No problem madam!” the elf said, her head slightly tilted her left.
I nodded at the young woman and went through an opening in the left wall that led directly to the blacksmith. There was a large, brawny figure standing over a buzzsaw, pushing a large metal rod directly against the blade. Hot sparks were flying off in all directions.
“Excuse me, Magnes.”
The sound of grinding metal was overpowering. I didn’t know why I couldn’t hear it in the shop.
Must have been a sound error. Or maybe a spell was put around the shed to keep noise in. Cause I should have been able to hear the sound from down the road.
Magnes angrily whipped around and yelled in a husky feminine voice, “What the hell do you want missy?!”
“I, uh… Would like… You’re a woman?”
Magnes took her foot off the pedal operating the buzzsaw and pulled up the large metal mask covering her face, her lack of sleeves showed just how muscular her arms were. “Damn straight.” She looked me over. “More woman than you are!”
“Well actually I’m not really a girl, but… “ I scanned over the smith’s unpronounced chest. “Apparently neither are you…”
“What did you just say!”
Magnes marched towards me, her fists clenched at her sides. “Just what the hell do you even want!”
“I just wanna live!”
“Looks like it just ain’t your day, sweetcheeks!” Magnes grabbed a hammer from the workbench beside me and reeled back.
“Magnes! Stop!” the clerk from the counter commanded behind me.
Magnes stopped swinging, the hammer barely inches away from my face. “But Lith!”
“Don’t “but Lith” me! You can’t harm another customer.”
“Another!?” I shrieked.
Magnes gave me a scowl before putting the hammer down. The smith took her mask off completely, revealing a mop of mossy green hair and pointed ears. “Fine Lith… Geez…”
I looked at both women, one after the other. “Are you two sisters?”
“Oh,” Magnes began, “Just because we both happen to be green haired elves we must be sister!?”
“Magnes,” Lith said in her rough tone from before.
“Sorry big sis…”
I looked at both women again. “What?!”
Lith walked past me, standing beside the bulky blacksmith. While Lith was the smaller sister, she was larger in… another place. She replied in the soft tone I heard when I first talked to her, “Yes, we’re sisters. But even though Magnes is much bigger, I happen to be older. And while her name is on the sign, I’m the owner of this establishment.”
Lith turned her attention to her younger sister, “Now Magnes, help this girl out with what she wants. And be nice! I’ll go back to working the counter.” The petite elf gave us both a slight nod and walked back into the store.
There was a puff of smoke above my shoulder. “You’re great at first impressions… Seriously, almost getting your skull shattered by and angry elf with a hammer? Amazing way to make friends.” Magnes let out a hearty laugh as I told Daemon to shut up.
“Alright, I guess I’ll help you out. And it’s not because of my sis! Your guide’s just cute.” Magnes stuck her arm out, causing me to flinch. She laughed again as she lightly stroked Daemon’s belly. “So very cute.”
Daemon looked away from the woman, a small burst of fire escaping from his nostrils. “Th-thank you…”
“Alright then, follow me.” Magnes walked over to a set of wicker chairs far away from the kiln. She sat down in one, her large frame causing the chair to make a crunching sound, and motioned for me to sit in the other. “So, tell whatcha want exactly.”
“Well, I’d just like a pair of knives. Fast and sturdy.”
Magnus pulled out a hefty book from under her chair, setting it down on the table between us. She flipped through several pages and laid the book out flat at the small arms section. “Here are the weapons I can make, since you want a pair I’ll make two of whatever you choose.”
I turned the book around and began to flip through the pages. “What are the prices based on?”
“Weapon type, design, resources used, and enchanting. Knives are fairly cheap, but making a pair will double the price.”
“Yeah, Lith can do a moderate amount of enchanting. She put an enchantment around the shed to block out noise.”
“That makes sense. I won’t opt for that though, I don’t plan on spending a ton.” A few more pages later, I came across kunai that increased attack speed and accuracy, in both close combat and in throwing. “Aight, I know what I want!” I spun the book around and pointed at the kunai.
“Hmmm… You know, these are mainly used to be thrown… You’re looking for a main weapon, right?”
I ran my tongue over my bottom lips. “Yeah… but I kinda need a projectile too…”
“Alright, well how about…” Magnes crossed her arms over her chest, her head slightly tilted to the right. “How about I extend the blades a bit. While the accuracy increase will go down a bit, the speed will be the same with an increased range. Allowing the daggers to be used better up close.”
“Sounds great. I’ll buy some small projectiles from the store then to help with my aim.”
“I won’t ask about enchanting, but what do you want them to be made out of?”
“I… don’t know exactly. Whatever is lightweight yet sturdy.”
Magnes nodded, “I can do that.” The smith took out a small notebook and a pencil, writing down the specifics of the kunai. “Good thing for you, I only have one weapon before yours. So expect your order to be complete riiight before the Tournament. Your guide will let you know when it’s ready to be picked up. If you don’t come and get it soon after it’s ready, you’ll have to wait a few extra days to pick it up. The shop will be closed during the Tournament. Ya got it?”
“Yep, got it. What about cost?”
“It’ll cost you an arm and a leg,” Magnes stated with frightening seriousness.
I was taken back for a moment before Magnes broke into a laughing fit.
“Haha, you… You fell for it… Haha, completely fell for it!” Magnes laughed a bit more, wiping a tear from her eye.
I took a deep breath, trying to recompose myself. “God, what is wrong with the NPC’s in this game…” I said under my breath.
“Anyways, I’ll cost ya about 4500 gold. And that’s just an estimate. You’ll have to pay when you come to pick it up and might cost a bit more.”
“That sounds reasonable…” I said with a gulp. A virtual document containing the details of my business with Magnes suddenly appeared in front of me. I used my finger to check the box that asked if I agreed with what was written above. The document then vanished away.
After my goodbye with Magnes I went back in the general store and bought a good amount of cheap throwing needles along with a few smoke bombs from Lith. I waved to the green-haired elf as I exited Magnes’ Shop and Smith. Once on the main street, I begrudgingly asked Daemon to navigate me to Princess Sheol’s suite.
“I just hope she doesn’t decide to actually kill me…”
“Why not? It’ll be a fun thing to watch.”
“I hate you…”
Daemon responded by blowing a puff of smoke at me.
“Wait here,” a maid said to me, motioning to a chair set around a tea table. “Princess Sheol will see you soon.
“O-okay…” I stuttered, still surprised I was let into Sheol’s suite so easily. As soon as I came up to the suite, one of the guards standing beside the entrance recognized my username through the swarm of other players crowding the doors and called me over. Apparently Sheol remembered my name from our previous encounter and instructed her guards to guide me inside her suite if I happened to walk by. Maybe she’s planning on killing me… I thought to myself, Dammit, this is all Daemon’s fault… I shouldn’t have come here. I should have just searched for Gnatz myself. Stupid guide… I’m soooo gonna get a now one… Maybe a cute little fairy girl…
“Psycho Android Xl, the Princess is here to see you.”
“I didn’t do it!” I immediately yelled.
“Quite down!” A heavy voice boomed. I turned my head slightly to man in heavy armor glaring at me. Behind him was a blue-haired woman in a purple dress. It was Aegis and Sheol.
Sheol walked past her royal guard and sat at the chair before me. The same maid from before quickly followed, a steaming kettle in her hand. The maid poured Sheol a cup of tea then glanced over at me. “Would you like a drink,” Sheol asked.
“I, uh… Sure.” The teacup in front for me was filled to the brim.
“Milk and sugar?” The maid inquired.
“Yes please,” I said with a nod. Milk was poured into both of the porcelain cups preceded by two sugar cubes each. The maid gave us both a nod and made her adieu.
The pale Princess brought her cup to her lips and I hesitantly did the same. After we both set our cups back down Sheol promptly drew out her slender blade, the tip barely nicking my right cheek. “Why did you take it?”
I gulped. “Who what…?”
“Why did you take it? I let you live and repay me by taking it?”
“The… the letter?”
Sheol’s eyes tightened.
“I didn’t take it! Well not on purpose… It fell out of the carriage when you kicked me out! So, I uh…”
“Spit it out before your head rolls across the floor,” She demanded in an eerily cold tone.
“I picked it up in order to give it… Give it back to you! Yeah! Honestly!”
“Take out the letter and slowly place it on the table.”
I did as asked, not taking my eyes off the Princess.
“Aegis, come here. Examine the contents of the letter.”
“Yes milady.” Aegis replied, walking over to the table. He picked up the letter and opened it up with his crimson dagger. After reading the message inside, he let out a huff. “Everything is in order. The letter was not hampered with.”
Sheol gave me another glare before sheathing her blade. She took another sip of her tea as a flash appeared in front of me. I was awarded a small sum of money and experience points for completing of part 1 of the quest. “Well… okay then…” I muttered.
“This is a very important letter. I’m glad you haven’t done anything to it.”
“Do you know of Gnatz?”
“Good. He is in this city as we speak, most likely in some pub. I had planned on giving him the letter when I had first arrived, but I couldn’t.”
“Because I had it…?”
“No, because the Princess was too busy entertaining herself in one of the rathole clubs this city is known for,” Aegis answered.
I looked at the guard for a second, then back to Sheol, then back to Aegis. “What?”
“I was joking your numbskull. Of course she couldn’t deliver the letter because you had it!”
“Seriously, these NPC’s are weird…”
Aegis gripped his dagger. “What’d you say, runt?”
“Calm down Aegis,” Sheol ordered. Aegis crossed his arms over his chest and slammed down in the seat next to the Princess. Sheol then returned her attention to me. “Now, however, I’d like you to deliver the letter. Personally.”
“Wha…? I guess that’s part two of the quest…” I paused, thinking of the appropriate response. “Okay, but… why are you asking me to do it though?”
Sheol hesitantly eyed her guard. “Let’s just say…” She began, responding in a careful manner, “Gnatz isn’t the most approachable. Sheol leaned in, brushing her finger over the scars on her mouth and cheek. “You see these?”
My eyes widened.
“I got these scars from when this world first fell into ruin. I was in the castle with my father, King Abaddon, when it came crumbling down. While my father wasn’t so lucky, I was able to escape with only minor scars.”
I let out a breath, “Oh, okay… That’s what the lore says. I was afraid you were gonna say Gnatz gave them to you… The boards say he’s grumpy, not aggressive.”
Sheol gave me the stone-faced look from before.
“Uh, I’m sorry… as you were saying…?”
“While the scars no longer give me pain, interacting with Gnatz gives me a similar sensation in my gut.”
I licked my lips. The online message boards mentioned few things about Gnatz as only a handful of players have actually met him. While they all had different experiences with the fabled blacksmith, they all had similar things to say about Gnatz himself. He seemed to give off an uneasy air. No one could quite put the sensation into words though… Looks like I would have to find out for myself.
“So,” the Princess requested, “Will you deliver this letter to Gnatz on my behalf?”
“Yeah… Yeah, I’ll do that. You can count on me… or something like that.” Another flash appeared. The words, “Part 2, Accepted” floated in a virtual space in front of me. “Cool, cool… So we done here?”
I fell face first into the crowded streets of Incipio a few minutes later. The guard who had thrown me out of the suite dusted off his hands and walked back into the high-class residence.
“Yeah? Well fuck you too!” I yelled at the closed door.
“I’m surprised you somehow lived through your second encounter with the Princess,” Daemon quipped. “Now I think we should get out of here…”
I eyed the players standing around me, the very same players who had seen me enter Sheol’s suite. They were all probably wondering why I was allowed in and what information I had in store. I knew they’d try to get any little detail about the matter out of me… Mainly using violence to get that they wanted. “Hey look,” I yelled, pointing to a vendor across the street, “A busty catgirl is trying on a bikini!”
No one turned.
“Plan B.” I threw one my smoke bombs to the ground in an effort to flee. While I was able to escape from most of the players, a few with buffs granting them keener eyesight were able to chase me down. After a while of playing the most intense game of hide and seek of my life, I was able to avoid certain death by my pursuers.
“Don’t you dare say anything!” I hissed.
“Alright… Where did she was Gnatz was? At some pub?”
Daemon brought up the minimap, marking all the pubs in the city.