Chapter 6 – Welcome to Goblin Central

-Lost-

I cannot believe that Fen actually wants to be a companion to me! Having a powerful creature like her join me is surreal at best.

“Well, I’m not sure on what to say to you Fen, but please look after me,” I will remain humble at least, there is no need to get too full of myself.

It’s a shame Fen can’t talk, but she understands what I say and I manage to understand her thoughts to some extent through her behaviour. On that note the artificial intelligence in this game is so far advanced beyond everything else I have ever imagined that it’s scary.

“No point sticking around here Fen, let’s go. I will introduce you to Iceridge.” I walk through the exit to the cavern with Fen right behind me, at least, she was following until I went through the exit.

Turning my head to check behind me Fen was still inside the cavern sitting in front of the tunnel out. All I can see is her legs and most of her body.

“Of course.. She’s too big for the tunnel!” I should have foreseen this situation, but I was a little caught up in the thrill of getting a companion, they are extremely rare after all.

Walking back to the entrance I compared Fen’s size to the tunnel. It shouldn’t be impossible for her to fit, but it will be close.

“Fen, there is only one way for you to leave this place, you’re going to have to trust me on what I tell you to do.” She is not going to like this, not one bit, but I need to not make her too mad in getting her out.

“As you know you are my first companion, so I will do whatever it takes to get you out of this place.” Fen eyes are telling me that she trusts me. Time to put my plan in motion.

“Okay, Fen. I need you to lie on your stomach with your legs stretched out.”

Not even an ounce of hesitation came from the wolf as she did exactly what I said. I then grab both of her front paws, barely managing to wrap an arm around each considering the size of them.

“Please don’t hate me for this,” Before she could have time to think I throw my weight forward and drag her through the mouth of the tunnel. Fen make some painful noises and struggles a lot, but there is no room for her to move as every side of her large body was already scraping against that walls and ceiling.

My strength isn’t particularly high compared to a mid level player and I would never be able to do something like picking Fen up. But it is sufficient enough to drag her along the ground, albeit rather slowly. I also gained a point in strength for my efforts.

Perhaps I should be feeling more remorse but I am more focused on how with a strong companion I can easily hunt more than I could by myself. Distracting myself from Fen’s howling behind me, I compared the new knowledge I have about the ‘Companion’ System with the ‘Pet’ and ‘Summoned’ System.

Both pet’s and summoned beings are extremely similar in that their owner’s words were absolute, any commands given must be followed, even if it meant sacrificing the minion. They could also both be dismissed, summoned beings returning to the ‘Void’ where they were summoned from.

It is a little different when you use the ‘Taming’ skill to acquire a pet. They gain a special ability that allows them to turn into a piece of jewellery, which they could return to upon being dismissed.

Death was the same as dismissal, and you could bring them back with either a magical summon or waiting for the cool down to expire for a pet to be returned from its jewellery form.

The only major difference between the two which caused the most arguments was the experience system of the two. A summoned being received no experience share and to have a stronger summon you needed to simply summon a stronger being, a pet however grew with you and you could manually set the pet to gain anywhere between fifteen and eighty five percent of the experience share.

Companions on the other hand were altogether different, they follow you of their own volition and didn’t necessarily follow orders, not to mention they may decide leave if they were unhappy with you. There was no experience share with them, and in this game it was the killing blow that gave all the experience. Lastly once they die there is no way to bring them back.

Most companions are known to be either soldiers or people who join you as a part of a quest, so a companion permanently joining someone is unheard of, let alone the companion not being human

I break through the exit of the cave to the morning sun blurred behind a moderate snow storm covering this entire area, preventing my sight from extending past ten meters even with ‘Hunter’s Eyes’.

The wind and snow which may have done damage to normal player and inevitably made them sick, did nothing to me due to the special effect of my cloak maintaining the air around me. Walking through the storm, snow swirled around me on its way past. Yet inside my cloak, all I feel is a slight breeze.

Granted the wind was a little cold, hence proving my cloak isn’t all powerful. And it still does absolutely nothing against a paw the size of my chest altering my orientation from standing upright to face first in the ground.

Fen had absolutely no issue with the weather, being a boss class wolf with the ice attribute she was standing there completely oblivious to the weather. When I looked up to her from the ground I can see in her eyes that she isn’t particularly angry, she just seemed to be in pain and a bad mood.

“I’m sor-fmgh,” I have my face pressed back into the ground, cutting off my speech. This repeated itself several times in fact, every time I attempted to stand without fail I was forced back into the ground.

When the pressure finally let up I simply stood up as if nothing had happened, her attacks weren’t meant to do any damage and they didn’t really.

“Okay, now that we’ve had a little stress relief, let’s go.” I may not be able to see very far through the snow but I have been here enough times I can get back to town even if I can’t see it.

Leading the way, we stroll through the snowstorm like it was a light afternoon breeze, not moving too quick else we lose each other.

I didn’t encounter any wolves on the way back which was odd, they could have gone into hiding considering the weather but being winter wolves with their thick furs I wouldn’t imagine it would have caused enough grief to warrant hiding.

For two hours we walked through the storm, much longer than I could have imagined it would take to get back to Iceridge. I finally came up to a wall and feel assured that we are finally here, but I take notice that the wall is poorly made out of stones, not to mention it only reaches my chest height.

The snowstorm that has been plummeting down starts to ease and finally subsides enough that the sun breaks the fog and reveals our surroundings.

I kind of gathered from the wall that this wasn’t Iceridge, but the sight around me is absolutely shocking, I could not be in a worse position. The low rock wall encircles an area the size of a small town, and what was surrounded by the wall was an encampment. Looking at a little dark green creature half my size and covered in wrinkle and warts, it was wearing incredibly shabby clothing, torn in most places. That confirms it, this is a goblin

Put me against a goblin one on one any day, with my stats it wouldn’t even last a minute. but right now there was about a hundred goblins in this camp and they were all staring at me, surprised to see a human.

This is a very short encampment with the tallest huts being about one and a half times my height, there are also small camp fires and strange tribal spears litter the area with no particular organization. It is a perfectly hidden spot due to the small surrounding hills around it, the only way to really spot it would be from the sky, and there isn’t a single player who can fly.

I don’t feel like I’m in trouble just because there is an encampment of about a hundred goblins in front of me though, what I’m concerned about is the two hundred plus goblins fully equipped and patrolling the hills outside god damned goblin central.

‘Of course there were no wolves!’ During the snowstorm not only did I get my directions completely mixed up but I ended up passing goblin patrols with neither of us noticing and ended up sandwiched directly between the goblins front and rear lines. The absolute worst position to be in.

“Fen, I understand that it was storming and there was a lot of wind… But did you honestly not smell a single goblin when there are so many?” The wolf turned its head away from me, ‘Guilty!’

You’re really not going to let go of a grudge are you… Well, I will go along with it but I expect you to help me make money Fen! All I can do is sigh.

“Okay, Fen. Let’s go take care of the goblins on the hills, we need to get out of here before we are completely surrounded. Look, they are already moving!”

Sure enough the goblins from the surrounding hills were approaching together to trap and overwhelm us with large numbers. From my knowledge they are considerably weak monsters in most games but there are a large number of these weak monsters and I have low levelled health and equipment.

Me and Fen both sprint uphill, dashing away from the encampment to break through a solid line of goblin charging down the hill at us. Raising rusty iron shotel’s, szabla’s and various other weapons that look like they could break at any moment, it was a scene out of a movie.

At least that’s how it started, Fen in all her gloriousness took the lead to protect me from the charging onslaught, she had ranged ice magic that is no joke after all. She did a fantastic job of protecting me, first she charged right up to their front line, then using her powerful legs leaped completely over them, weaving around a few stragglers that were lagging behind the main charge and… Escaped.

‘God damn it wolf! Damn! Damn! Damn!’ I couldn’t stop cursing. I was left to fend for myself in the middle of this dilemma.

I have seven goblins directly in front of me, and two on either side. My skills are high enough I should be able to deal with them relatively quickly.

“Perceptual Sight!” Time slows down, unlike when I use this technique with Fen the goblins become abnormally slow. I probably don’t need to use this sacred art but I need to be able to react to the goblins in time, otherwise they will swarm me.

I decide to make the first move, lunging to my right I activated ‘CrossX’ on the nearest goblin, using both swords to cover its torso with a large ‘X’. I also make a rapid slash across its neck as I move to the next goblin. This goblin has already started its attack, a straight vertical slash with a szabla. Twisting my body I narrowly avoid the blade and counter attack directly to its throat and chest.

Of course considering all of a sudden now that I am standing still I no longer have the advantage of speed to penetrate their natural defences. It is probably due to having weak weapons but the skin on these goblins is extremely tough and difficult to cut.

I take a slash across my back, giving me a numb pain, it removed a little over a quarter of my health and an icon for bleeding appeared in the corner of my vision. The attack came from the first goblin I had attacked, it had made a quick recovery and still has sixty percent of its health left!

‘Curses!’ I have no hope of winning this battle. Unless I do something fast, the second group of goblins are going to be here and the enemies surrounding me will double or more.

There is no other option, I never planned to use this but with no one else being around it should be okay to reveal my face for a moment and double my speed. I raise my hands up to my hood in preparation to take it off of my head. Grabbing one side with each of my hands I tried to pull it off but…

‘Huh? It’s stuck!’ Holding onto the hood no matter how hard I pulled I couldn’t budge it an inch. No, that’s not correct at all, no matter how hard I tried to pull I couldn’t move my arms and inch.  It was not a matter of the hood being stuck but a matter of me not being able to bring myself to remove it.

It was almost as if there is a second set of arms holding them and preventing them from moving. Quickly removing my hands in panic of the current situation I open my equipment menu, pressing on the cloak and then attempting to press on the unequip button. Once again something felt like it was grabbing my hand, preventing me from pressing it.

I understand the shame I feel by removing my hood and revealing the face I wished to hide from everyone, but that can’t possibly be what is preventing me from removing my hood.

‘Is it the system? If it is, then why? Who is causing this?’ It has to be the effect of someone’s or something’s actions that is preventing me revealing my face.

An impact to the back of my head brought me to my knees stunned, the equipment menu automatically closing. My health falls into the red zone and I can feel the world around me start to blur.

Closing my eyes I morbidly accepted defeat, even with my high stats there was nothing I could do against this weak enemy. Weak weapons and armour prove to be a fundamental barrier for me at this moment.

Fighting enemies stronger than wolves? Who am I kidding, my weapons are for level 4 and level 5 players after all.

Soon my vision turns black, followed by my hearing and other senses. However the entire time my anger at Fen remained, I wonder if I will get the chance to be a vengeful spirit for a little.

***************************************************

Stalagmites forming on the ceiling, a large slightly run down church and enormous ornate glass window behind me, I must have died. I should have followed that stupid wolf and jumped over the group, my agility is high enough that I should have had no problem doing so. But I wanted to test the experience points of a new monster too much and was overconfident in myself.

Those goblins were far from weak too, how is a person supposed to judge the strength of a new monster before fighting them? I assume there should be some compendium of information about it somewhere on the internet at least, but I don’t have the time to log out and delay myself to do that.

It is at this very moment that a thought appears in my mind. I run outside the church and directly into the confessional booth off to the side.

“Welcome adventurer, to the place where you can define your destiny as you strive to become stronger. Under the light of the sun goddess Verde, speak your name.”

“Lost.”

“… Welcome back, Lost.”

Once again with this weird way of talking after hearing my name, what is up with that?

“As a follower of the sun, a devotee of the Radiant Church. Allow me to hear what it is you wish for.”

The list of skills I can buy appears in front of me. If I remember correctly there was a skill in here that would help me determine the strength of a monster. Ah, there it is!

You have bought 'Creature Analysis' for 4 Levels!
You have no empty skill slots so this skill will be placed 
in your skill reserve, you may change the equipped skills
outside of combat at any time.

Creature Analysis (SLvl 1, 0%) -Active
  Looking through a discerning eye for so long you have 
  gained to skill to accurately gauge the strength of all
  creatures.
  The stronger this skill is the easier it is to analyse 
  more powerful creatures.
  Can not be used on players and NPCs.

SLvl 1:
- Able to determine the name of a creature
- Reveal the level of any monster up to 1.1 X Player Level

Perfect! This is just what I need! I replace my currently useless ‘Smithing’ skill with my new ‘Creature Analysis’ skill and run off to the great white wolf’s cave to retrace my steps and find where that goblin encampment was.

I dropped back down to level 24 but it isn’t so bad this time and I should be able to get it back relatively quickly.

Along the way I test out my new skill on some wolves that were unfortunate enough to cross my path.

Name: Grey Wolf
Level: 10
Health: 100
Magic: 0
Stamina: 0

Through countless encounters and battles you have become
highly knowledgeable about the Grey Wolf.
Living in the frozen Kingdom of Glace, these animals are 
not only highly ferocious but also adapted to fighting in
the cold climates. Where most people will get weaker in the
cold the grey wolf becomes stronger...

There was some more information but I will have to go through it later. By the words it used it seems like the more I battle a monster the more information I gain on it, even if most of it is useless.

I have a serious issue with Fen right now, I looked at my status window after I was revived and losing one point in every stat was completely wrong. The higher the skill was the more that was lost. My mid level stats lost two to three points each and my agility stat lost a massive six points!

At the cave I calculated the trajectory I took when I left during the storm. Instead of walking to town I appeared to have walked considerably south of it, hopefully I walked in a relatively straight line otherwise I will most likely not be able to find the camp and Fen.

I’m not entirely sure when it started but I take notice of a small list of messages a corner of my vision, using a hand I pressed on it and it expanded in front of me where I could easily read it.

Companion Window:
[13:11]'Fen' has gained a level.
[13:32]'Fen' has gained a level.
[14:09]'Fen' has gained a level.
[14:48]'Fen' has gained a level.
[15:21]'Fen' has gained a level.

Unbelievable! I die and that god damned wolf finally decides to do something! Stealing all the experience and gaining five levels since my death!

I start running faster than I was in order to find the goblins. I can’t see any wolves around the current area I am in which is a good sign, but I am running through a decent crop of tree’s so they could still be out there.

I finally break out of the trees into a large frozen tundra, low hills and snow expanding as far as the eye could see. I couldn’t see during the storm but the goblin camp should be hiding somewhere around here.

Walking up the first hill I stood at the highest point and scanned the surroundings. The village was well hidden according to my memory. However a few hills away with my ‘Hunter’s Eyes’ skill I spot a little green thing running away from a white wolf at least five times its size. At least it was running until a large icicle impaled it into the ground, followed by some razor sharp claws cutting it to pieces.

Fen! I broke out into a run in the direction of the wolf and arrived in front of it in minutes. Fen was startled that I was in front of her, even more so I bed when I launched a fist onto the top of her nose.

“FEN! ****! How could you just leave me there to die! I get you’re grumpy over me dragging you out of the cave, but it had to be done so get over it! Else we are going to have a serious problem, okay?! ****!”

Maybe I let loose a bit too much, should I prepare to be a toothpick? Although, I really can’t afford to lose even more stat points.

In front of me the wolf started wagging her tail and rubs her great big head against me, throwing me off balance. I scold this wolf and it starts acting friendly? What the hell is up with that?

“Cut it out! Now I’m going to go see how strong those goblins are and you’re coming with me as my guard! I’ve seen how easily you handle them and you better not abandon me again!”

 I climb the hill I am currently on to get a good view of the goblin encampment just ahead, Fen following behind happily wagging her tail.

Poking my head over the ridge I look for a goblin to test my analysis eyes on. All around the camp were goblins, little boxes of loot hanging over their dead bodies.

“You seriously ran away when you can do this?!”

I shoot a piercing glare at Fen, this whole area is a slaughter, she has the same speed I do only much more brutal attacks. I wonder what her level is, “Analyse.”

Name: 'Fen' (Queen Class)
Level: 35
Health: 730
Magic: 310
Stamina: 362

Being your companion you can always view Fen's current
status regardless of any skill restrictions. 

Little is known about this great white wolf except a few 
rumours that she is one of the off spring on Fenrir
Can use ice based magic and physical techniques related
to extreme speeds.
Immune to the cold and high resistance to most magic.

Impressive! Fen has some really nice stats, although the ‘Queen Class’ next to her name confuses me a little.  She also has incredibly high stats compared to her level. Perhaps it is similar to how a boss monster naturally is much stronger than a normal monster.

I turn around and spot a goblin approaching the camp from the hill on the far side, looking at it I activate analyse to get its stat.

There is no creature in your field of view, analyse failed.

Tch, it seems to be too far away, but I still have a method to still analyse it, first staring at its location considerably hard to silently activate ‘Hunter’s Eyes’ my sight zooms in on its position, not enough to make out any detail, but enough to analyse it.

Name: Goblin
Level: ??
Health: ??
Magic: ??
Stamina: ??

Goblins will attack in groups. While they are lacking in
brains and tactics, they make up for that fault with skin
that resists blades and sturdy bodies.

Damn, that was useless. I guess I am not high enough level to reveal its any information on how strong it is.

“Fen, that goblin over there is mine and mine alone! You take care of any more that come.”

The wolf gives me a look that seems to be an affirmative and casually follows behind me, looking for prey to the sides.

Racing through the desolate camp I meet the goblin in the central area. A few crude pole torches are scattered around like poles of twisted metal, and off to the side is a considerable crevice in the ground expanding about ten meters long. Interestingly I failed to notice that from outside the village.

It also appears to have a ledge running down it to go deeper, it must be some dungeon. I will have to come back with a stronger weapon to explore it

No matter, my attention needs to be on this goblin. It does not look very menacing, it’s half my size and carrying a rusty machete. ‘Aggravation’ takes effect and the goblin seems to lose all reasoning as it blindly charges at me, preparing its weapon to slash directly down.

At two paces away the blade of rust came swinging down, directly vertical as predicted. I place one foot behind the other, and using that as the pivot point I spin to the side. I use the momentum of the spin to swing one of my swords at high speed.

The machete strikes empty air but my attack lands, even if it is only across the goblin’s shoulder. I feel a little resistance from its tough body but I had enough speed in the swing to break through its defences and land the attack.

A bar shows it only lost about ten percent health from the attack but it’s better than nothing. My speed outclassed the goblin to the point where it simply is not even a fair match. Slipping behind its back and I activate ‘Triple Thrust’.

An ear screeching howl broke my concentration as the goblin cried out in pain, thankfully there were no more goblins in the area to hear the noise and come rushing over. No surprise, I used a sacred art to score a critical hit on the goblin’s back after all. The health bar had fallen well below fifty percent and the little green thing appeared to be panting for breath.

A fistful of snow flew at my face from the goblin. Not expecting such a tactic, it hit me in the eyes before I could react, the goblin taking the full advantage of me being momentarily blinded swung its machete into my thigh.

I can feel the strength draining out of me as my health drops to seventy percent, such a heavy blow for such a small creature completely astonished me. It is no wonder I was slaughtered before by these little things surrounding me!

I start to get the feeling that these aren’t particularly the weakest creatures in the game. But no matter if it is just one then I can handle it. Wiping the snow from my eyes I retreat backwards to avoid the goblin’s next swing, before running in a circle to flank it.

It turns itself to follow my movements but I circle faster than it can turn. Once I feel like I am safe enough I close the gap at high speed to slash the goblin across the back of the neck, striking fast enough to cut its tough skin like a hot knife through butter.

I don’t stop moving, continuing my momentum through the attack and opening some distance in returning to circling the goblin. I repeat this technique of striking from the blind spots and in two strikes the goblin keels over and dies, and I receive a massive fourteen percent experience towards my next level!

From the loot menu it dropped thirty copper coins, a rusty machete, and a piece of rotten meat that it had in its pocket.

Rusted Iron Machete
  The machete is a great weapon for not only cutting
  through jungles but also cutting through your opponents.
  What a shame the materials were so poor that it only
  took moment before the entire weapon oxidized and turned
  into a blade of rust.
  The blade is 43cm long.
Requirements:
- Level 3
- Str 13
- Dex 15

Weapon Type: Single Edge/Short Sword
 Attack: 2 - 14
 Durability: 11/16
 Weight: 2.8 lbs

Fortunately when death comes, while you may drop all the coin pouches you have, you gain another one when you respawn.

I take the money but everything else is absolute rubbish, even the weapon. Clicking discard on the items left in the menu I admire how much strength it was to deal that kind of damage to me, the damage output of the weapon was so poor I would have a better chance of killing monsters by giving them tetanus.

Behind me Fen is sprawled out on her stomach expressing her boredom at me.

“Sorry Fen, but you got to have your fun before! Anyway let’s go collect this loot that you have left lying around everywhere and go back to the city, I won’t get lost this time.”

If anyone else were to enter this small gap in the hills they would most likely be shocked, all around me up to the tops of the hills are little black loot boxes littered all over. Fen follows me as I approach the nearest one.

Normally only the person who deals the death strike can see the loot box but being a companion I can see and loot Fen’s kills. Not that she could do much with those giant paws, I was simply relieved that the loot boxes didn’t appear two and a half meters in the air at her head height.

Well, loot menu’s become universally accessible after a certain period of time anyway.

‘Time to get my money’s worth out of this wolf!’ Oh the joy of being the only person who can gather such a large amount of loot!

***************************************************
***************************************************

 -Verde-

After that night came to pass where the intruder broke in and murdered my character, I logged to a cold sweat breaking out on my face, traces of the pain seemed to reside in my chest.

‘That was NOT natural! What the hell was that?!’ I screamed in my head remembering the pain. Not only did someone break into an area where it was supposed to be completely private and secure, but launched a death dealing attack which somehow managed to induce severe pain, something that is supposed to be impossible.

Unfortunately for them, this will not scare me off! That person clearly has something to do with the hooded person I stole the cheap weapons from. If I can follow him in secret I can probably find out exactly who that person was!

Anyway, for now, let me sleep, I feel my heart beating faster than a frightened rabbit and I need rest.

***************************************************

The next morning I went straight back to virtual reality. Some people would be going to school, others off to work, but I don’t fall in either of those categories.

I never even went to school as a matter of fact, I received private tutoring on various subjects but my father didn’t want to risk me hanging out with anyone from a ‘lower society’ so he home schooled me. Unfortunately that means I never received a high school pass as he only taught me what he deemed necessary for my future and nothing else.

I have always been given everything I want, I can have just about anything. Yet I have never had any real friends and I have never been permitting to go outside by myself. I had to beg my father to buy me a VL and he only agreed in the end when I promised to take over his business in the future.

He also forbade me from playing any online games, only the offline ones and I could not fall behind on my studies in business that he hired a tutor on the spot for. Father also used his connections and got me a second generation VL, a model that came onto the market back when virtual reality was still new to combat the decline of public opinion.

There was not much difference, mainly the personal locker was 30 meters wide and long instead of the standard 10 meters. There were also a few other differences but I never understood what they were, some performance stuff if I remember. But the main value of this model is that it isn’t produced any more and there are only a few of them circulating.

My locker is decorated like a forest tree house, the type where there are no walls or ceilings, just various platforms among the canopy of the trees with bridges connecting between them. I chose this because I love the fresh air and the freedom I feel up here, almost like I could fly away.

The biggest platform at one end has my console embedded in the tree which I use to log on to End Online, luckily my father believes me to be the perfect girl and could  never possibly lie to him or break a promise.

***************************************************

I log in to the church, I was lucky that I didn’t drop any items upon death. I don’t know how I would have ever gotten them back. But I am currently broke, and my infamy is at 320 so the bank would not let me have an account with them, meaning no savings. If only I didn’t get caught stealing so much when I was still new.

“My Lady! For some reason there is some strange force field of wind up north that I can’t get past!” Sir Laurence talks to me over a private channel reserved for registered friends.

I can never get used to someone talking in my head, the same as when I speak over private chat. Always paranoid people will think I’m crazy speaking to myself, even if I know that to everyone else my mouth won’t even be moving.

“Sir Laurence, what may I ask is your current level?”

“It’s level forty seven right now, why is that related?”

I could not help but sigh at this person, he acts all righteous in front of others, especially woman, yet he has absolutely no clue.

“Sir Laurence… That is the edge of the Kingdom of Glace, which you may not pass until you become level fifty…”

“Oh, of course I knew that, I was just testing if you did too!”

That is his other personal trait people who spend too much time around him discover, he is never wrong. No matter how obvious it is that he doesn’t know something he will pretend that he does.

“Okay Mr Know-it-all.. Tell me, are you still there?”

“No, that was a few days ago. I am currently walking into Iceridge.”

“Is that so? Well come to the church, I will be waiting!”

“Roger, on my way right now to sweep you off your feet!”

“Please don’t…”

Not too long after Sir Laurence is briskly walking towards me through the crowded street, he makes way for women yet will barge right through any male, I don’t think he understands how repulsive that is to a female.

“My lady, your knight has arrived.” The way he speaks that way with such a straight face never ceases to amaze me. However, right now it is time to make some money.

“Took you long enough!” Standing up, I brush past him as I snatch all the money he had in his coin bag, I may have stopped stealing his money before but I am completely broke right now and somebody has to be the victim.

Wow, twenty seven solid gold coins, someone has been doing rather well for themselves!

Meanwhile Sir Laurence pretends not to notice my crime, but his hand gently caresses his coin bag, assessing the damage.

All of a sudden I hear screams coming from beyond the central courtyard. At the east gate to be precise.

Racing over with Sir Laurence behind me to see what the commotion was I witnessed a hooded figure walking into town with a humongous white wolf that could only just fit through the gate!

***************************************************
***************************************************

-Lost-

Goblins are the worst! They have absolutely terrible loot!

I filled my inventory up with terrible weapons and armour, even my money bag filled up, yet none of it had any value. The goods would probably sell for 5 gold at most, and that was about 450lbs of rusted weapons and armour with holes in them. The money pouch had to be the best though, goblins only drop copper coins and now I had a full bag of 999 of them. Literally ten silver coins worth!

The only saving grace I received is that a few goblins dropped some jewellery that should be worth a decent amount of money, but they were not exactly high quality.

I entered the eastern gate of Iceridge grumbling, Fen at my side strutting right through the main gates as if nothing could hurt her. There should not be any problems with Fen being here, she is technically recognized by the system as my companion after all.

All of a sudden there is a scream from a souvenir shop as some female worker witnesses Fen, then not just her door and windows but most of the doors and windows instantly shut, the sounds of locks and bolts slamming into place.

Some users saw Fen and panicked, crying out it was a raid on the city. Those words were a bit extreme don’t you think?

I also see Prince Charming approaching with a hooded figure. The other person may be wearing a hood but I enhance my vision with ‘Hunter’s Eyes’ and get a closer look. My hunch was correct, it is the indescribable beauty I crossed paths with in the bazaar.

A few players started to bear their weapons, and Fen extended her claws ready to start attacking, but the city guards intervened first by getting in my way.

“Adventurer! What do you think you are doing leading such a dangerous creature inside the town walls? It is disturbing the peace!”

“What are you talking about? Fen is my companion!”

“Sorry, but that creature is far too dangerous to be within the city walls. Please remove it or we will forcibly remove it.”

The guards place hands on their sword hilts, ready to draw the weapons at a moment’s notice and subdue. I honestly am a little concerned for them however. Do they think they could stop a rampaging Fen?

Either way this is more hassle than I need, they may be strong but Fen was nearly untouchable with her speed and reflexes, and annihilating the city guards in front of her would possibly have some serious repercussions. Then a memory of some research about Iceridge I did a few nights ago comes back and I get an idea.

“Fen, I need you to wait outside town for a while. I will be back for you shortly after I get something.” Turning to the guards I then address them next, “That should be acceptable should it not? If Fen was to wait outside the walls, otherwise I feel there may be a battle right here that will not be favourable to either of us.”

The guards give a pained expression, then the obvious leader of the troupe who has done all the speaking up till now answers, “Very well, we will allow it to reside outside the walls. We also do not wish for a battle if it is avoidable.”

Fen sends a glare my way as if to say, ‘You led me here to show me your city and now you tell me to wait outside?’ 

All I can say to her without alerting the guards to my plan is, “Sorry, please have a little trust and wait for me.” She seems to be somewhat content with that and walks back outside the walls.

With the commotion gone the guards slowly wander off and shops start to reopen. Prince Charming and the woman were already gone before the crowd of players dispersed.

Next was to initiate my plan, I was not entirely sure it would work but I did not see any reason why it should not. First I walk through the main central courtyard and into a small branch of the Bank of Iceridge. There were a few small branches of the bank spread around this city and any money stored could be accessed from all of them, however you could only access your money from Iceridge.

While it was possible to have your money transferred to another started city to access it there from their bank, you had to pay a large fee of ten percent. The further the money had to be transported the higher the fee, so most people opted to withdraw all their money in the form of platinum coins, each valued at a hundred gold coins and people on ever held onto them when they were travelling to another city with a bank.

Inside the bank I used a coin converter in the corner of the room. The clerk could do it for me but I did not feel like talking to them, so I tip my coin bag upside down and ten copper coins fall into the hole on the top. Interestingly coins cannot stack higher than 100

A small tray slides out in the middle of the contraption containing nine silver coils and ninety nine copper coins.

Next on the agenda is the blacksmith. Approaching the NPC behind the counter who’s long hair was considerably messier than usual. I take not that his skin is a few shades darker, perhaps he travelled outside for a while, or got too close to his furnace and cooked himself a little bit.

“Sell,” Keeping my words to him short as usual he didn’t seem as bothered this time, merely asking me what I wished to sell.

Rather than placing the items in front of him, I operated a trade menu to select every piece of weapon and armour I scavenged off the dead goblins.

The blacksmith scrolled through his panel at the items I selected, giving a grunt, “These items are ‘pletely rusted and useless. Where did ya get them? The arse of a lake or somethin’?”

What a crude way of speaking! Well it isn’t the first time I’ve heard him run his mouth like that. I indicate to the items like I want to sell them regardless.

“Well, I’ll give ya seventy silver for ‘em. That’ll be the best deal ya’ll get anywhere.”

I didn’t expect much for this pile of rust, despite how much there was. I hurriedly nod my head before he can reconsider the price.

I also have the jewellery to sell that should get me enough money for what I need. At a jewellery shop with a young lady at the counter I managed to haggle twenty one gold for the seven pieces, although half of that price was a necklace that was a much higher quality than the rest.

Now that I should have enough money I go to the only magic shop in the central courtyard, walking around the giant frozen fountain I walk into a small shop covered in dust.

I didn’t even bother to explore the shop, I have no use for most of the goods here as I do not have any skills related to magic. Behind the counter is a young man in his mid twenties, a bulky brown robe covers most of his body, and large spectacles framed his face. Apart from that he has a mousey brown hair the length of one of my fingers and a few freckles across his face.

“Excuse me. I would like to purchase a scroll.”

“Of course, good sir. May I ask which one in particular?” Oh so polite! I would almost think maybe I had a good intimacy with him if his smile reached his eyes.

“I would like a Scroll of Shrinking.”

“Not a problem. That will be fifteen gold.”

Surely that is a rip off! But scrolls aren’t exactly cheap in the first place as they let anyone use a once off magic without the need of any mana.

“Very well, thank you for that.”

I am extremely reluctant to hand over all the money, yet I need the scroll right now so I make the payment and the item is transferred into my possession

Scroll of Shrinking
  A scroll with the ability to cast the spell 'Shrink'. It is
  generally viewed as a useless spell as it can not be used
  during combat.
  Will shrink the target to a 1/10 the original size, the 
  target however will still maintain its original weight.

Requirements:
- Level 20

Grade: Orange
Duration: 24 hours

Restrictions:
- Can not be cast on oneself 

Incantation:
  "The mountain is large, the rock is small. Hear my words and
  transform this mountain into the rock. Shrink."

Now that I have the item I needed to walk back out the eastern exit and find Fen sulking in the snow a little off to the side of the gate.

Walking up to her I open the scroll.

“Okay, Fen. Are you ready to go into town?” The wolf’s ears perk up at my words, “Now I need to cast a very special spell so stay still for a moment.

Holding the scroll in one hand and using the other one to hold an open palm at Fen for directing the magic I recite the incantation, “Shrink!”

The spell has a duration of twenty four hours, but this is in game terms. Technically it means it will last 8 hours in real life, one day in game. I remember this confused me at first how in the game times passed by three times faster than real life because also in game a full day was classified as 24 hours.

The scroll burned up and disappeared and Fen started visible shrinking! I knew it would work! Normally you would not be able to do this as you would be in combat but I have just successfully shrunk a boss class monster into a… puppy.

I am completely shocked, I didn’t necessarily turn Fen into a pup, but she now stand a little under 30cm tall, the same size of a wolf pup. She is also bounding around the snow excited and jumps up on me. Catching her in my arms I forgot that shrinking does not reduce the weight.

I was literally body slammed with a total weight of two thousand two hundred pounds behind it, considering the small size of the wolf the concentrated damage was quite severe, reducing a little more than half of my health.

“Okay, Fen, don’t do that-,” I broke into a few coughs while trying to catch my breath, “again. Now let’s go back into town shall we.”

I walk with Fen back through the main gates and this time there are no windows slamming closed or screams. I even overhear a few exclamations about how ‘cute’ Fen is, if only they knew..

***************************************************
***************************************************

-Verde-

The moment I saw that giant white wolf in town my chest froze. Not just from knowing how powerful it was but there was something about it, something about how white its fur was that sends terror crawling up from my stomach.

It was the same colour as that girl’s hair!

I grab Sir Laurence and duck behind a nearby building, could it be possible that the wolf was the girl? It seems impossible, clearly this wolf could not do something completely fantasy like and transform into a human. Otherwise it would not walk into the town looking like this. But why do I feel so afraid, is it the memory of the pain?

The guards come and settle the scenario rather quickly. There was a conversation between them and the hooded player which resolved peacefully, the guards walking off as the wolf leaves the city.

I decide I will follow him again to see what he will do, is he just going to leave the wolf outside? If he planned to do that then he would not have tried to bring it inside the walls in the first place.

Dragging Sir Laurence around, we crept through the shadows and tailed him as he sold a lot of stuff at the blacksmith and jewellery shop. Lastly he snuck into the magic shop but I would not be able to follow him in with Sir Laurence without getting spotted, the shop was simply too small and had nowhere to hide.

He came out shortly after and headed straight for the eastern gate where the wolf left, naturally we snuck out as well and witnessed the wolf waiting for him a little down the wall from the gate.

What happened next astonished the both of us, he pulled out a scroll and shrunk the massive wolf into the size of a pup. I would not have thought such a thing to be possible!

He shortly after walked right back to the gate and inside with the wolf again!

“My lady, what should we do?”

“We will follow them of course. I want to know about this man and mainly the people he knows.” It is the truth, I want to find out who that girl was that attacked me last night.

“If you wish it, it shall be. But we must converse with him for that, not stalk in the shadows, we will simply end up losing him or getting found out.”

“Yes, that may be just what we need!”

Silently dashing through the gate I still have one hand grabbing Sir Laurence and dragging him along. My strength may not be overly high but when he isn’t resisting it is easy to drag him around.

I follow the hooded man and the wolf into the central square, he starts showing the wolf around the city as if the animal could understand human speech. This is a game after all, there is not any particular reason why it should not be able to.

We wander around in the shadows for a good part of an hour, following the hooded man with the wolf around the major areas of the city. If he was to show the wolf any more of the city he would have to break into the giant castle in the middle of the city, where the royal family reside.

The wolf caught our scent at some time during our stalking and shot a few glances in our direction, but it didn’t make any noises as to not alarm the hooded man.

He ends up returning to the blacksmith in the end, coming out with a new short sword in his hands.

That is when we approach him and Sir Laurence makes his move.

“Excuse me my lord. I was wondering if you would like to join our party in hunting some kobolds?” The most surprising is how polite he was to another man, but under the circumstances he is only doing it for me.

“No, I would rather not. I already have a place to go hunting.”

Sir Laurence grabs his chin with a hand as if he is trying to figure something out. It doesn’t take long until he knocks his fist down onto the open palm of his other hand with an “Ahh”. Speaking to the hooded figure who was starting to walk away Sir Laurence made an exclamation.

“The short sword, that voice, I know who you are! You’re Lost! Aren’t you?”

“Wait, he is lost?” I interjected with my confusion, but Sir Laurence cleared it up for me.

“No, no. His name is Lost.

The hooded man stops and turns his head around to face us.

“Congratulations,” Lost spoke with dry sarcasm, “so Prince Charming remembers who I am, what about it?”

I giggled a little bit at the nickname he has for Sir Laurence, it was quite fitting knowing what I know of him. He doesn’t have any retort for Lost, so with his cheeks slightly tinged red he ignores the comment to maintain some of the imaginary pride of his.

“Well then, if you already have plans,” I decide to make a compromise to be in the same party as this man, “How about we join you where you are going to go hunt?”

I give the prettiest smile I possibly could from under my hood, and he appears to give it some consideration. It is only the wolf that finally makes a noise after being silent for so long during our stalking. A low, aggressive growl comes out of the wolf that sent shivers of ice all up my spine.

“Cut it out Fen,” Lost looks down at the wolf that stops the noise, yet it still glares directly at me, its vicious intent clear as day. “Very well, then let us be off, I don’t have any time to play around.”

Lost operates his menus for a considerable amount of time and a party request appears in front of both me and Sir Laurence.

We both press accept and on the side of my vision our names and current status line up vertically, containing the information for everyone in the party. Even the wolf ‘Fen’ was there, highlighted in orange to indicating her status as a companion.

Sir Laurence and I follow lost and the wolf out of the eastern gate and into the winter landscape, Lost speaking over his shoulder to let us know one thing.

“Also, if you steal any of my kills. I will kill you.”

Merciless.

Next Chapter

Previous Chapter

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26 Comments

    1. We will have to see! lol I did start two days late after all. I have some christmas stuff to do but I’m busy at work!

      If it ends up being Friday I will aim for thursday next week but I am 50/50 I can make it for tomorrow evening

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      1. You got it wrong! Tatsume wasn’t the main character. It was the owner of the cursed sword.

        Plus, you should give a mini-chapter for christmas. He takes the idea of throwing snow. No need to get rocks and, it increases his throwing skill :O
        Also; poor gobbies ;~;

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        1. I wanted to do a mini chapter for Christmas :< one from Fen's perspective.
          Only I have to try and finish chapter 7 today to post it a day early. So if I did do the chapter it would not be posted on Xmas

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      2. Can’t reply to your other comment!?

        How about one of those things they put at the end of chapters. Sometimes in manga as well with a few columns with funny things that usually don’t impact the story.
        Say, at the end of the chapter Lost feels a snowball hit him, he looks around and there’s no one but fen. He then sighs and strokes fen saying “well, you don’t have hands so… Ah, never-mind” then she smiles in her wolf form when he looks away. That would be sufficient.

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      3. Oh it does appear we can only reply two nested deep, I will have a look at that!

        Hmm that does spark a christmas idea I was toying about actually, what you said has just given me a hint as to how to insert it into this chapter. But it is not snowballs I have been thinking about.

        There is already progress in his throwing skill in chapter 7, plus he found that throwing small environmental objects that did no damage to slowly stop giving him growth in the skill.

        ‘Throwing’ – The skill for professional table flippers ^.^

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  1. Nice chapter.

    Minor correction:
    “Well I’m not sure to on what to say to you fen, but please look after me,” I will remain humble at least, there is no need to get too full of myself.

    ‘sure to on’ -> ‘sure on’; ‘fen’ -> ‘Fen’

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  2. I love the story so far!

    I may have found a slight typo. Did you mean “vicious” rather than “viscous” for viscous intent?

    “Cut it out Fen,” Lost looks down at the wolf that stops the noise, yet it still glares directly at me, its viscous intent clear as day. “Very well, then let us be off, I don’t have any time to play around.”

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  3. >“Well, I’m not sure to on what to say to you fen
    Fen should be capitalized.

    >Most companions are known as soldiers or people who join you as a part of a quest
    Another way of saying it would be “Most companions are either soldiers or people who join you for the duration of a quest…” which emphasizes that once the quest is over, they leave you. But since soldiers are also people, it seems slightly redundant. Perhaps “NPC” could be used instead of “people”. That might heighten the difference between people that fight alongside you (soldiers) and people that don’t fight but are escorted by you for the quest (regular NPC).

    >Aggravation’ takes effect and the goblin seems to lose all reasoning
    I thought the MC had to remove the white wolf cloak in order to allow the Aggravation skill to take effect. However, he still seems to be wearing it at this point. If you meant for him to use Aggravation as a skill effect, it would contradict the skill’s description as a passive (not active) skill. Passive skills in all the games I’ve seen cannot be turned on and off like an active skill.

    >Clicking discard on the items
    As for discarding (or selling as scrap) weapons that are useless to him, shouldn’t he be keeping them as raw metallic materials for his smithing skill (if he wants to develop it further)? The iron or steel in those low grade items should still be useful when smelted. After all, there is certainly a greater concentration of iron or steel in a rusty or broken sword than there is in a bunch of ores. As long as he has weight carrying capacity, he should be filling up on this stuff.

    He is poor in real life and was playing in hopes of RMT. So it seems somewhat against his real life plans for him to be discarding anything in game as long as he can get ANY value from it. He needs as much in-game money or gears as he can gather for RMT.

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    1. >“Well, I’m not sure to on what to say to you fen
      – Indeed it should be a capital, will do so now

      >Most companions are known as soldiers or people who join you as a part of a quest
      -Thanks for bringing that to my attention. It should go “Most companions are known to be either soldiers…. will fix now as well.

      -You had me worried there with the aggravation thing. And no, having the hood on still does cause the effect to take place. It simply prevents NPC intimacy from rising or falling. Also, what I term to be ‘passive’ are skills that are not actively controlled. A ring could give a passive ability to see in the dark, and removing it would stop it. While an active skill is something that costs MP or you consciously need to activate. I have probably made a mistake or two in some of them, but not this one.

      – As for selling scrap or reforging. Remember this is indeed a game not real life. In games a piece of scrap is to the bitter end scrap. Unless you have some kind of miraculous salvaging skill. I also put it down to discard it under the pretence of it being a one cent item. You could spend an entire month collecting and saving these items and finally get $10 worth. Or you could spend a month and collect the more valuable items for $1000. There is the difference between something worth a small amount and next to nothing,
      There was the saying at one point that if Bill Gates walked past $1000 on the ground he would not stop to pick it up, because in the time it would take him to do so he would have lost more than $1000 by bending over to pick it up.

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