Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Chapter 11: Different Players

There's just something wrong with this game. I couldn't understand most parts of it. Usually a level boss on an MMORPG would be a monster or some other thing not human. But according to Havok's information that he shared with everyone, he said that the portal to the next floor was guarded by humans, specifically wearing gray hoods and a skull insignia on them. I didn't doubt Havok's information because what he really wants to be is the hero who saves everyone. He wouldn't be faking information and destroy his image in front of the public. Not only that, I saw one player seemingly logged out of this virtual world. 

Just what the hell is wrong with this world?

"Geez...", I mumbled looking up to the sky. It was a hot sunny day. "How can a virtual reality console replicate the real world almost perfectly?", I asked myself. I put on my hood and walk towards the city gates.

It's been about 2 weeks since I started to be Oxide's apprentice. After helping him making a new backsword for Barrios, I couldn't say no to be an apprentice of this skillful blacksmith. He thought me a lot of stuff about forging and other stuffs. Oxide is apparently a university student on material science major. He also told me that there were a lot of compound materials that he can make by using his studies in the real world.

This time, Oxide has sent me to gather some materials at Rocky Plains with Val. It's the first time he sent me to gather materials without him. Usually, I would accompany him to hunt down monsters to gather dropped materials or finding loot spots. This time however, he had quite a lot of weapon orders from his clients.

"A more simplified version of the real world huh...", I mumbled to myself as I walk through the path towards my destination.

"That's what my brother always said right?', Val asked. I didn't realize myself that I mumbled what was in my mind out loud. Val saw that right through me and burst into laughter.

"Geez Val... You sure are good at reading people's minds...", I told her.

"It's not that hard you know. You just need to know what probably the other person is thinking about when they make that face", she said.

"That's not exactly easy", I replied.

"Then call it a girl's intuition", she said. I'm even more confused hearing that.

"You're not running your shop again today?", I asked her.

"I hired an NPC to take care of it", she replied.

"Is that even possible?", I asked.

"Of course it is. If not I wouldn't be here right?"


"Every store owner has the option to do so. Of course with a price, but my store's income can take it", she said.

"So, what are we hunting today?", Val asked.

I opened the note I saved and read it. "It says here that we're supposed to gather 50 iron ores from golems or by looting".

"Hmm... That's not much", I said.

"Not much?", Val asked with a surprised tone.

"Usually he gathers about 200", I told her.

"Well that explains what 'not much' meant", she said.

"I guess he always does get too excited doing a task"

"That's how he is alright", the little sister approved.

"Can you handle the golems later?", I asked her as we are nearing Rocky Plains.

"Just because you saved me doesn't mean that I'm weak", she pouted. "It was a 5-on-1, plus the '1' is a fencer.", she added.

"Alright alright", I shrugged off. "So how do you want to do this? Both of us attack straight on or something else?", I asked her.

"Can you tank?", she asked.

"You do realize that I'm an assassin, right?"

"So you can't?"

"I never said that did I? Golems are slow moving monsters, dodging their attacks shouldn't be a problem", I gave her an explanation. "But what are you gonna do?", I asked.

"Just see later", she said.

We decided we would stick together as Val suggested, opposed to my usual 'hunter killer' (a person spots targets, and the other kills the target quickly) tactic. When we attack a monster, I would keep the monster busy while Val would... do whatever she planned to do.

What we planned to do is look for loot spots while killing golems along the way. Loot spots usually would give more bonuses instead of monster drops, but golems are known to be aggressive monsters (they would attack a player without warning opposed to passive monsters which will attack if they are attacked).

"There's a loot spot over there", I pointed at the spot. "Go get the loot, Val. I'll stay as a lookout.", I told Val. She nodded in response and went to the loot spot.

I looked around to see if there are any golems around. I noticed a golem moving towards our location. Too make the golem focus it's attacks at me, I rushed at the golem to do a preemptive attack at it, opposed to using Stalker and attack it when it gets closer. I don't want to risk Val being the golem's target.

I took out my Spyker and Light Dagger and used Double Cross. All four slashes hit the golem, but only reduced it's HP until slightly above the yellow bar. Golems are monsters that have a strong resistance towards physical attacks, but the amount of damage I dealt was already considerably high, despite how it looks like.

I noticed another golem moving towards us. Handling one golem is quite manageable, but handling two will always be troublesome. With the first golem targeting me, I made the second golem focus it's attacks at me too. I stand in the middle of the two golems as both of them walked towards me. At the moment both golems unleashed their attacks, I slip away as they hit each other with their respective attacks.

Before the two golems could recover, I did a Double Cross at the golem with lower health and defeated it. After defeating the first golem, I rushed away from the second golem before it could attack me. The second golem then chased me as I was about to prepare another Double Cross. Before I did it however, the golem suddenly died. Apparently Val took the golem out with one hit.

"I told you I'm not that weak", she told me as she sheathed her rapier.

"How the heck did you took it out with one hit? It still has a little less than half of it's HP left", I asked her.

"Well... Fencers are very deadly when they can lay an attack on a weak spot", she explained to me. "Golem's weak spots are cracks on their rock body. Thanks to you, you caused a crack on the golem's back. So I took him out quite easily", she said as she smiled at me.

"Did you use a skill?", I asked since I'm still not convinced that a single regular blow would took out half of a golem's HP.

"You figured that out huh?", Val said looking a bit dissapointed. "I thought that I would be able to surprise you with a powerful attack. I guess it didn't work", she said while giving a dry laugh. I gave her a wry smile.

"I used my weapon skill", she said. "My brother made this rapier. He named it Linnaea, after a twinflower. It's weapon skill's called Double Action. It's a skill that lets the user to land 2 identical attack on the same time", she said.

"Umm... You lost me there", I said. I didn't understood a word from her Double Action explanation.

"Well... It's like I do one move, but do twice the impact", she said.

"So... Like you attack deals twice the amount of damage?"

"Something like that", she answered me.

"Why don't you say so?", I asked.

"Because it isn't exactly like that", she said.

"Geez... Save me the explanation, at least I know basically what it does", I replied. "So do we get enough iron ores? I got 12", I asked.

"Yes we do", she answered. "We got 30 from the looting spot, and I received 15 from the golem", she added.

"Alright. Let's go back", I said. She nodded.

"We're back", both Val and I said after I opened Oxide's workshop door.

"Welcome back you guys", Oxide said as he gave a smile at us. "I've been waiting for you guys."

"Umm... X", he said with a worried tone. "I know you just got back, but can you go get something for me at my supplier's place. I'll send you a message of where it is and what to buy along with the money needed."

"Can't you get it yourself?", I asked him with a wry smile.

"I want to walk around the square and laze around you know.", he said.

"Geez...", I sighed. "I'm off"

I got out of Oxide's workshop and walk towards the market place. After a couple of minutes, I got a message from Oxide.

"So, I'm supposed to buy these things.", I asked myself as I opened the message. I can only speechlessly stare at the immense amount of items I'm supposed to buy.

"How the heck does he even have enough GPs to actually buy all of these materials?", I asked myself in my head. I sighed and pick up my pace on going to the material supplier he specified.

As I was almost at the location Oxide specified, I received a call from him.

"X, stop what I told you to do and go to the town square now", he said.

"I'm almost at your supplier's place, I can go there afterwards", I told him.

"Forget it. This is more urgent", he said as he hung up. I sighed at what he said but then made a decision to go to the square immediately.

To save time, I went through the rooftops just like I always do when I'm in a hurry. I can't think of something that could be more important to a blacksmith than to get his order from his supplier. The closer I get to the square, the more anxious I get.

By the time I reached the square, I understood what had happened. Havok was interrogating one of those gray-hooded guys he claimed as the guardians towards the next floor.

"So, what exactly are you people? Guardians? People playing God at us?", Havok asked the guy. The guy didn't say a word.

"What exactly do you want with us? Say something damn it!", he said as he punched the gray-hooded guy. The gray-hooded guy just smirked at his expense. 

However, I noticed that smirk, it was the smirk given by the rogue who I killed the other day. I'm sure I wasn't mistaken. I rushed to the gray-hooded guy and stopped Havok from landing another hit at the gray-hooded guy.

"What?! You! What the heck do you want?!", Havok burst into rage towards me from stopping him. I ignored him, but this just made him even more enraged.

"Stop messing around with me bastard! He's my suspect for restricting our freedom!", he shouted.

"Will you just pipe down for a second?", I snapped at him in an 'I'm not interested' manner.

"Are you looking for another fight?!", Havok asked.

"No", I replied at him and opened the captured rogue's hood. There was no mistaking it, he's the guy I killed a couple of weeks back.

"Nice seeing you again, boy", he said to me. I can hear the crowd gasp in shock that the hooded guy knew me.

"How the hell did you not die? I saw you get destroyed into pixels with my own eyes.", I asked him as I held the collar of his hood. Everyone looking at the scene was speechless as they heard me asked that question. Even Havok himself has calmed down.

"Well... Let's just say that we're two different type of players", he said. I was confused at the statement he said. I heard that there were already reports of people who died in this game, they were never seen in-game ever again. I wasn't the only one dumbfounded. The whole square was in silence, trying to digest what they just heard.

While I was left thinking about the statement the captured rogue was saying, he pushed me aside and opened his menu.

"See you around, kid", he said as he pressed a button. He turned into pixels and logged out in front of all of the spectators.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Chapter 10: The Blacksmith's Apprentice

"It's closed?", I asked.

"Seems like it", Barrios answered. "Although I was drooling this morning for a toast", he said as he flooded the streets with tears, and all I can do is smile wryly at him.

Both me and Barrios had the same idea in mind this morning. We wanted to have a brunch at Ridgeview Crest. Apparently it was closed for the day.

"Nothing we can do then", I said as I start walking away. I felt someone tugging my shirt from behind. I thought it was Barrios, but he was right beside me. I looked back and found out the culprit. It was Val.

"Yo!", she greeted in a casual manner. She also smacked Barrios at his back, although she shook her arm after the impact with Barrios' armor.

"Mornin'", Barrios greeted her back.

"Hey", I greeted her back too.

"So what's up? We were looking for toast for a brunch you know", Barrios said as he pulled me towards him, while unaware of him choking me.

"Ooo... I'm taking a break today", Val answered. "I'm visiting someone today".

"Visiting someone?", I asked back to make sure.

"Yep! Since you're here, why not come with me? He's someone I want to introduce to you guys", she said.

"He? Introduce?", Barrios asked. "ARE YOU GETTING MARRIED?!", he suddenly asked in a loud tone. At his stupid question, Val can only give an dry laugh.

"That came out of nowhere, you idiot", I riposted him.

"That came out of nowhere either!", he tried to do a comeback, although that just seemed like he's making a bigger idiot of himself to me.

"Come on guys, stop fighting", Val stepped between us to stop us. "Eitherdfay, I'm not getting married. He's someone I know from the real world.", she said.

"Well, what are we waiting for? Let's go!", Barrios said as he start walking. But then he stopped a couple of steps ahead and asked, "Where exactly are we going?".

"Your grave", I riposted him. Barrios could only give an annoyed look while Val was laughing at Barrios' idiocy.

"Come one, I'll show you the way.", Val said as she took the lead.

"Would you stop making me look like a fool?", Barrios whispered to me.

"I thought you're one without even trying.", I replied. Barrios gave me a 'what the heck' look. I smacked his back in a friendly manner.

"Here we are", Val said as she stopped in front of a tavern. The banner reads "Adventurer's Tavern". Me and Barrios stood quietly as she opened the door. we followed her in after exchanging a glance and I signaled him to go ahead first.

"You're here after all", Val said to a person. He had a moderate build, brown hair, and golden eyes. Judging from his apparel, he seemed like a rogue.

"Look who came up. Been a while Val!", the guy greeted her with a smile just like Val's.

"Sure has been, big bro.", Val answered his greeting.

"Big bro?", I asked.

"Yes. this here is my bigger brother", Val answered me.

"Hi. You must be Extorsion and Barrios. My in-game name is Oxide. Pleased to meet you.", he said.

"Pleased to meet you too.", Barrios replied to him.

"Yeah, pleased to meet you too. By the way, you can simply call me X", I added.

"So. X's the assassin, and Barrios' the defender.", he said.

"Yeap. I'm the defender. And this puny guy is the assassin.", Barrios said pointing at me. I gave him a 'not impressed' look.

"I see.",  said. "X, what happened to your other dagger?", Oxide asked me.

"You noticed?", I asked him in surprise.

"Yeah. The dagger you are using belongs to a dual dagger set doesn't it?", he replied.

"It does. But it snapped into two pieces.", I said.

"How exactly?", he asked me again.

"It cracked a bit against Havok's Diamond Slash, and finally it snapped when I attacked him while he activated his Safeguard skill.", I said.

"Havok? So you're the one who won the battle against Havok.", he replied. Some people looked towards me after  said that. I probably had raised some notoriety after winning a duel against Havok.

"Are you planning to just use the other one?", he asked me.

"Not exactly, but I am looking for a substitute for this", I said.

"In that case, what about I give you a dagger instead?", he offered me.

"Are you really okay that?", I asked him.

"Of course. A rogue like me wouldn't have any use for a dagger", he said as he opened his inventory list. After searching through a ton of stuff, he summoned the dagger he meant. "Here", he gave me the dagger.

As I took it, a pop-up appeared at my HUD showing details about the dagger. It's called Spyker. It has a decent damage and it's also light in-hand. It has a bleeding effect, an effect that will cause anyone hit by the dagger to receive an amount of damage per second. It's main weakness is it's ability to defend from an attack. Under all of the stats, I noticed something else was written there. It said that the Spyker was crafted by Oxide.

"You crafted this?", I asked him.

"Yes I did", he said.

"How exactly do you craft a weapon?", I asked him.

"My side job's a blacksmith you know", he said while laughing. "Were you interested in being a blacksmith?", he asked me.

"I am sort of interested. But I guess I'm gonna need to think before having a side job.", I replied.

"Planning on being a frontliner?", he asked me again.

"A frontliner?"

"Yes. A frontliner. The guys who fight clearing floors to clear the game", he explained to me.

"Not really I guess", I answered.

"How about if you start by helping me in my workshop? Then you can see if you're interested or not", he said.

"I'll do that", I answered him. And thus I became Oxide's temporary apprentice.