Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Chapter 5

Chapter 5: Next stop

Nevil opened his eyes to an unfamiliar ceiling. He was lying on a bed in a strange white room, curtains drawn around him to keep away prying eyes. Trying to sit up he felt something pulling at his arm, as if it were attached to something. A brief investigation revealed that it was indeed, an IV drip trailed from his arm to a stand on his right. Slowly the lights started flickering on inside his head. Somehow Nevil had ended up in a hospital.
               Worse, he had no recollection of how he ended up here. He’d been in perfect health, well as far as a shut in can be, before he’d last logged in. But when was that again? It hadn’t occurred to him while he was in game, but time was still passing in the real world, even at a vastly slower rate. Hours had melted together inside the illusion, so he had even less of an inkling of how much time had passed here. How long had he been asleep?
                His dazed movements caused a figure hunched over at the end of his bed to stir. His little sister raised her head to blearily look at him, seemingly just waking up herself. He was slightly surprised to see her, but she’d probably been worried about their finances or something. Damn, what an awful older brother he was. How could he have worried her! Not only had he been unable to work for god knows how long, he’d also created the hospital fees! Clair didn’t need this, her pathetic gaming brother takin-
                This internal monologue was interrupted as Nevil was flung backwards onto his bed. His little sister had jumped atop of him, wrapping her arms around his neck. Struck dumb by this extraordinary turn of events he could only manage a stupid one word question.
                “YOU IDIOT!” She cried, “Do you have any idea what that was like!? What if you didn’t wake up?! Idiot, stupid moron!”
                Well he couldn’t deny that. Her arms wrapped tighter around the stupefied Nevil, who eventually managed to choke out another confused response.
                “Bu-but why are you waiting here?”
                “What do you mean?” Clair yelled, tears forming in the edges of her eyes, “Where else am I supposed to wait for you?! Do you have any idea how worried I was?!”
                “But…. B-but you hated me?”
                “Idiot, of course not! How could I?!”
                “B-but it was my fault… Don’t you blame me?”
                “Idiot! You’re all I have left!”
                At this point Clair began sobbing into his shoulder. His strong, brave Clair. She had cried at their parents’ funeral, but after that Nevil had never seen her shed a tear. Not when he’d shut himself off, or when their relatives started leaving them. Not even when their uncle had abandoned them. While Nevil had been crushed by the tragically unfair world around them she’d stayed strong and unmoved. Such a brave girl could go on to do anything, he’d realised. With a determination like that nothing was out of reach. And her pathetic older brother would at least make sure she got the chance. That was what he’d always believed. That was his duty.
                But now that unbreakable sister was bawling in his arms and he didn’t know what to do. She didn’t hate him? She was this worried? How long had she had to wait at the foot of his bed for him to regain consciousness? Dozens of questions skirted the edges of his mind but one was more pressing than any of the others; was it ok not to be hated?
                No, none of those questions truly mattered. Not at the moment. Hesitantly, slowly, Nevil reached his arm around his sisters back and returned her embrace. Clair was right; they were all each other had. He was a terrible brother, so for now there was nothing else he could do.


Apparently Clair had found him with the headgear on after he hadn’t appeared for over a day. When she’d tried taking the headset off nothing had happened so she’d panicked and called an ambulance. That was almost 5 days ago; he’d been in a coma since. Clair automatically blamed the New World headset, but no similar case had been documented. It was impossible for him to have stayed logged in. Whenever someone had their headgear removed they were automatically logged off and doctors couldn’t find anything else to link it. It was a great mystery that had shaken up the entire hospital.
                After his sisters yelling had notified the entire hospital the doctors had rushed in and immediately started performing tests and asking questions. Had anything unusual happened before logging in, any other symptoms? Just any indication whatsoever about what had happened. But Nevil repeatedly stated he was fine and without anything else they could do there was no choice but to let him go. He had to compromise to leave the following morning, but he was eager to get out of there as soon as he could to avoid racking up more of a bill.
                So he was waiting in the lobby for his sister, who’d demanded to walk him home, no two ways about it. Even if he could refuse his sister at the best of times, there was no way for him to say no after he put her through that. Regrettable as it might be for her to miss the first few hours of the private school he paid for.
                Almost no one else was in the lobby at this hour; an elderly women seeming to be waiting for an appointment and a middle aged business man who kept glancing at his watch were Nevil’s only companions. The newspapers were a few weeks out of date and there were only fashion or gossip magazines spread out upon the table. He desperately wanted to stretch his legs or find something else to do, but the fear of what might happen were he not here at Clair’s arrival was sufficiently petrifying to keep him glued to his seat. Long repressed memories of when they’d been relatively normal siblings began to haunt his dreams once more.
                Shuddering at that one time he’d been late when they’d gone into town one time he noticed the man had stood up and walked briskly to the reception desk.
                “This is ridiculous! How much longer must I wait for visitation?” He loudly demanded, causing the old lady to almost drop her knitting and Nevil to jump slightly in the air.
                “I’m sorry sir but the hospital’s not open until-“ The receptionist tried to placating say.
                “Nonsense, how could you possibly keep a father from his daughter this long?! Locking her away under the guise of medical care and keeping her from my loving embrace! You monsters!” He roared, and then suddenly collapsed to one knee, his voice growing quieter and sorrowful. “My darling Rose-bud, locked in this dire penitentiary. Withering away without her father’s love to nurture her… How can you live with yourselves? I demand you let me pass immediately!”
                Nevil nervously stepped forward as the man’s rage turned back to the receptionist. He had to be stronger in the real world as well, Peter had told him. He couldn’t just let this very obvious harassment go. “U-um excuse me sir, t-the receptionist d-doesn’t make the policies here. If you c-could just….”
                He’d trailed off as the man scornfully turned to face him. “What would you know of our suffering, boy? My precious carnation locked away every waking moment, cold and alone without my fatherly warmth. Torn from my precious flower, you want me to spend another single moment without her?! Listen you; I just bought this New World thingy! I need to get it to her as soon as I can so we can spend even longer together online!! No longer must I suffer through the night knowing she desperately lacks my presence!”
                “That’s enough dad!” Said a voice from the side. The face that had held Nevil with such mockery and contempt abruptly twisted into an expression of blissful harmony.
                He span round and leapt with remarkable agility towards who must have been his daughter, screaming “Daddy’s here!!!!”
                A white cane caught him in the side of the face, causing his charge to be diverted into a nearby wall. The assailant walked into the lobby, trailed by the receptionist who must have escaped during Nevil’s brief distraction. Her most striking feature was her milky white eyes, yet she walked confidently with the aid of her stick towards her father. But what had caught Nevil’s attention above all else was her long, black hair. He recognised the hair.
Though it couldn’t be. Thousands of people had a similar hair, and he remembered nothing else about the girl. There was absolutely no way. This still didn’t stop him turning away from the girl, who was sternly chastising her father about bothering the staff, and fleeing the lobby. When she turned to apologize Nevil had already left the building.
He almost ran straight into his sister as he fled out into the street. Barely keeping them both upright, Clair immediately tried to calm her panicked brother.
“Bro?! What’s going on, are you ok?”
It took a couple of seconds for Nevil to compose himself before he weakly smiled to his sister. “I-It’s nothing, really. C’mon, let’s get out of here.”
“Wait, are you sure? You look really pale… Maybe we should head back and do another check-up. If-“
“NO!” Nevil yelled, then realising he’d just raised his voice quickly turned away. “No, let’s just leave.”
Clair was clearly not content, but started walking home without further complaint. She sent a few sideways glances towards him while the moved, but he kept his mouth firmly sealed. Though some of the distance between them seemed to have vanished she still needed to let him have some space.
Not being completely oblivious Nevil stopped and bought some ice-cream on the way, which ironically thawed out the atmosphere. He’d only gone through a brief patch of playing poorly translated Japanese gal-games, but it seems affection point increasing effect of the cold sugary treat was not as exaggerated as he’d thought. His sister being particularly uplifted, as they traditional avoided the expensive snack.
They began talking after that, not about anything important and it was mainly Clair doing the talking, but Nevil almost felt nostalgic. He realised that even though he was her guardian it was the first time he’d spoken to his sister about school for years. Luckily she was as talented as he’d always believed and was the top of her class in a reasonably prestigious school. It was her final year, but they’d only really just started. The tuition was already paid for and there was plenty of time for him to earn enough for University.
The sudden hospital bill worried him about the immediate future, but he was determined. They’d do fine. After a week the population of New World would probably of at least doubled and be somewhere around 100,000. Plenty of potential customers! Not only that, but he now had a hidden class! Overall, things were looking up.
They passed some flyers about Judo lessons while Clair complained about some history teacher or something. To be honest it had almost been an endless torrent as if she were making up for lost time, so at that point Nevil was only half listening. Peter had told him to get stronger in this world too; maybe a martial art might be the way to go…
“Hey! Bro are you even listening?”
“Huh? Ah, yeah sure. That guy sounds terrible! Should I go in and complain?” He answered, snapping back to their conversation.
“W-what?! No way, don’t you dare!” She yelled in surprise. “That would be way too embarrassing…”
Nevil smiled, no need for that right now. He needed to wait till they had a more stable income before something like that. Besides, his current stamina was abysmal. Running around the block every morning would be a better start.
As the sun rose to its peak at noon the two siblings arrived home together for the first time in years.


After he’d finished looking up some hunting tips online Nevil sat on his bed and pulled the helmet’s visor down over his eyes, blocking the sunlight from his newly opened windows. The natural light had not touched his room for ages but Clair had insisted it would be good for him when they’d got back. He’d also had to wait for her to leave for the remainder of her school day before he could sneak back into the virtual world. Although there was no real evidence to suggest New World had induced his brief coma she was still dead-set against him returning to it.
                But did it really have nothing to do with it? Nevil knew it was just a game, but Peter’s parting words echoed in his mind. It was almost as if he’d known… No, there was no way. As advanced as the AI was he was just a character, and New World was just a game. No one else whatsoever had reported a case the same as his own.
                Shutting out those unnecessary thoughts he logged in and his senses were once again flooded with new information. A musty smell hung in the air, and as he gathered his bearings Divus realised he’d spawned back in the old warehouse. However this time he was alone.
                “Peter? Are you there? Hello?” He questioned the empty room, as groggy memories of Peter telling him he was leaving resurfaced. He’d just become his student and he was already abandoned! No, someone as apparently influential as Peter probably had all kinds of work to do.
                Divus decided to have a quick look around to see if he could piece together his new master’s destination, but the warehouse was completely barren. The mana crystal that had been placed above the trapdoor was gone, and going down the creaking wooden steps revealed an utterly normal basement. The completely normal dimensions cemented the fact the entire test had been an illusion. No sign that Peter had been there at all remained.
                Giving up Divus realised he’d not checked his new stats and class. “Status!” He excitedly yelled to the empty room.

Name: Divus
Level: 8
Race: Human
Alignment: Neutral
Class: Beast Slayer
Title: None
Health: 610
Mana: 170
Fame: 0
Defence: 1
Vitality: 13
Strength: 25
Endurance: 16
Agility: 20
Dexterity:  20
Intelligence: 10
Wisdom: 10
Luck: 10
Willpower: 10

Unspent stat points: 0
·         Counter attack (Special): Beginner Level 2 (50%)
·         Sword mastery (Passive): Beginner Level 1 (0%)
Status enhancements:
·         Damage with Swords +10%

                While most of his stats remained the same he was intrigued at his new class and stat, though Sword masteries effect was plain enough to see.
                “Stat willpower.” He said hopefully.

Stat: Willpower (10)
Increasing willpower will increase your ability to perform under pressure, giving a boost to combat stats while below 10% health or facing enemies at much higher levels. Cannot increase with level up stat points.

                Even from the vague description Divus could tell it would be a handy stat to have in a pinch, but he didn’t really know how he was meant to level it up. Now for the more interesting bit; his hard won new class. With a name like that, there was no way it wouldn’t be good. He had to wipe away a little drool at the thought of the op new abilities he’d get.
                “Class Beast Slayer!”

Class: Beast Slayer
The lowest rank among Slayers, an ancient organisation of mighty warriors who selflessly fight monsters across the world.
·         Increased Exp gain from enemies of higher levels than you, scaling up the bigger the gap
·         Able to gain the ability of powerful foes you slay (Limited to beasts as a Beast Slayer)
·         No skill learning restrictions
·         Unable to refuse quests
·         Unable to receive monetary awards from quests
·         Half Exp gain from quest completion
·         Unable to gain experience from enemies at lower levels than yourself, unless suitably outnumbered
·         Unable to change class outside of Slayer roles

                The features of Divus’ face underwent an extraordinary change from the perspective of an observer as he read. At the first few lines he lit up with a smile, then a curious grin. Then at the fourth condition his lips created a worried line, which slowly turned into a more and more annoyed grimace. At the final point his face had been completely overcome with despair! He’d been tricked! All of these conditions would only serve to severely gimp him! And why was he forced to take quests if there was nothing in it for him?! And one of the only positive sounding points, gaining abilities from powerful foes, what did that even mean?! How was he even supposed to do that?
                He hung his head and cursed that devious poser Peter, how could he even of believed a story that was clearly too good to be true in the first place? Minutes passed as Divus wallowed in an odd mixture of pity and anger. Dark thoughts of his potential failure swirled in his mind, but that was impossible. Slapping himself on the cheeks he pushed himself to his feet and headed to the door. Peter had said it was a long path. If he couldn’t change it he’d just have to become the best anyway, handicapped or not.
                First thing was first, near the city there wouldn’t be many monsters at a higher level than him. Divus needed to change his base of operations ASAP! Picking himself up onto his feet he quickly stepped towards the door. He spotted a tiny pouch leaning at the bottom and quickly bent to pick it up. Opening it up revealed a handful of shiny silver coins, a parting gift from his new master. Divus smiled to himself as he swung open the creaking door out into the glaring daylight, maybe old Pete wasn’t that bad.
                He navigated his way through the back alleys and soon found his way back onto the main road. Or he tried to. But when he actually reached the larger streets he was completely unable to advance further. Massive crowds of people formed a huge and impenetrable barrier, barring him from reaching the main gates. What was going on? There weren’t anywhere near this number last time he’d been here.
                On slightly closer inspection almost the entire wall of people was made up of players, with the standard knife and identical clothes that marked them as complete noobs. Divus had expected an influx of people after they’d heard the VR really worked, but this was ridiculous!
                He turned back down the side streets, even if he’d become slightly more reformed there was no way he could push into a crowd like that… He could use the coins Peter had left him to buy some basic armour or something and try his luck again later.
                It wasn’t difficult to find his way into some of the more obscure and unique market places Peter had taken him before. The first stop was a small armour stall. He’d not had a chance to have a good look, but he’d remembered that they looked pretty high quality. There were nice pieces, like enchanted steel breastplates or spiked obsidian vambraces, but all of them cost several gold, far beyond his price range.
                “Look kid, if you ain’t gunna buy anything stop poking my stuff. Look but no touch!” The merchant scolded.
Divus hastily dropped the helmet he was studying longingly and sheepishly apologized.
The shop keep was disinterestedly waving him away, barely glancing up from the armour he was polishing, when an inkling of recognition flashed in his eyes. “Wait, you’re that kid that was wandering around with Peter, right?” He asked, “What were you doing following a Slayer?”
Without thinking he replied with, “Oh Peter was teaching me his class.”
The armour nosily clattered to the ground as the merchant fully turned to face him, mouth agape. “You mean you’re a Slayer?!”
“U-um yeah? Uh, j-just a low ranking one though, i-is that a problem?”
“Why the hell didn’t you say so earlier?! What are you looking for today sir?”
Divus was too stunned in the dramatic change in attitude to reply for a few moments, standing nervously as he tried to pull himself together. He might be able to use this! The merchant seemed to like Slayers, but he knew next to nothing about them… What could he say that might get him a bargain? This called for some improvised acting skills!
“U-um yes I am. *Ahem* Good sir, my new master has given me the task of going out and becoming stronger, and I require some basic armour for my travels. Alas, the budget he gave me is insufficient for any of the fine pieces you have displayed, are there any less expensive items you happen to have lying around?” He’d used the haughtiest voice he could manage and turned his head up slightly trying to hide his apprehension. It was amazing he’d made it through without a single stutter. Stealing glances at the merchant in case he’d angered him Divus nervously waited for a response.
“Of course! An assignment ey? Oh what kind of monstrous beast will you be facing? Hold up, I’ve got something that might do the job. It’s not got any enchantments, but it’s solidly made and nice and lightweight. I can sell the set for 47 silver!”
It was almost the entire sum of money Peter had left but it sounded like a bargain. The merchant handed over a bundle of leather clothes, a shirt with mail sown into the chest area and sturdy leather trousers, while Divus tipped out most his money bag.
“Here, take these as well!” The merchant smiled while passing some thick boots, “They’re not high quality, but they’re fairly sturdy! Please visit my store again after your adventures master Slayer, I’m sure I’ll be able to provide much more fitting equipment then!”
Was he viewing this as an investment? Well Divus certainly intended to be wealthier if he were to return so it probably wasn’t a bad choice.
He said his thanks then strode down an alley, collapsing against the wall as soon as he was out of sight. He released a massive sigh of relief and vowed to not try that act again. It seemed to have worked, but the stress was killing him. Furtively glancing left and right, he decided to quickly change his clothes there, he didn’t really have anywhere else he could go.
The armour fitted surprisingly well and he walked back into the market place slightly more confident in his new gear. So pleased with his equipment he was that Divus completely failed to notice the trail of gossip and whispers directed towards him that had spread from the armourer. Now he needed to get some things for travelling. He was looking through some food stalls for supplies for his trip when someone shouted out his name.
“Divus, hey Divus!”
He span round to see Trevor, one of the players he’d partied with earlier, picking his way towards him.
“O-oh, Trevor. U-um, how are you?”
“I’m doing fine, levelled up a lot and got a new class! But what about you? We haven’t met since you died in the forest. What have you been doing? We looked all over for you when you’d died, we were worried you’d upped and quit.”
Divus was surprised at how talkative Trevor was compared to when they’d last met, “N-not too much, I got a class and then couldn’t log in for the past couple of days.” Tactfully leaving out that it was due to a brief coma. “W-what about you, where are Dash and Beauty?”
“They’re not far away; I was just about to meet up with them. Why don’t you come with, it’s been ages!”
Divus briefly paused, then nodded and followed Trevor through the street. Though he was not too partial to company these guy’s had been a great help and quite fun to be around. It would be good to catch up a little before he left.
“So what’s your new class?” Trevor asked as they walked.
“Oh, it’s j-just a type of fighting class. W-what about you?”
“I’m a thief now! Well it says thief, it’s really just the starting stealth class. Dash became a warrior and Beauty’s a bard.”
Trevor seemed quite proud so Divus searched for the appropriate thing to say. “O-oh, cool. What about a mage?”
“Haven’t you heard? It’s really hard to get into a mage class! Well, mainly it costs loads of money, so there are barely any player mages.”
“Oh, th-that’s a shame…”
Trevor laughed, “Yeah, but we managed to snag one! A new girl joined us and she’s gotta be one of the only mages online!”
Divus looked up, slightly surprised. “W-wow. Um, what’s she like?” He asked, trying to mask a little nervousness.
The smile on Trevor’s lips dipped a little. “Noisy.”
They continued in silence for a second before he hurriedly added. “She’s not bad! She’s a nice girl! Just a little loud is all.”
For someone as quiet as Trevor usually was it probably wasn’t a great combo, but Divus was slightly relieved that she didn’t seem unpleasant. Then something else occurred to him.
“H-how are we going to find them?”
“Don’t worry, I sent them a message.”
Looking at Divus’ puzzled expression Trevor realised he had to explain a little more. “Um, well you can send whispers to your in-game friends, kind of like a text message.”
They rounded a corner and entered a small plaza. While it was far removed from the main city roads it was still packed with people. Droves of players slightly better equipped than the newbies were filling most the available space so that, while you didn’t quite have to push your way through, it was difficult to get to where you wanted.
Divus stuck close to Trevor as they weaved their way past and entered a large tavern. It was the first time he’d been in one, and the atmosphere was just a boisterous as he’d imagined. Groups of players and NPCs alike were drinking, talking and singing. Drunken adventurers swayed around the floor and clumsily danced to tunes to songs from bards and off to the side a heated dispute over spilled liquor was kicking off. They headed to the table with a familiar head of blonde, spikey hair acting as a beacon.
“Hey Divus! How are you man!” Dash yelled over the ambient noise.
“I-I’m good thanks, you?”
“What did you say?”
“I’m good thanks, you?!”
“Ah not bad, not bad.”
“Hey Divus, it’s been ages!” Beauty hollered. He’d nearly not recognised her, her face had undergone a dramatic transformation and was now much closer to living up to the name she’d chosen.
“Hey Beauty, you look well!”
“That’s because she’s sticking all her stat bonuses into charm!” Dash snickered.
“What was that?!”
The final occupant of the table, a beautiful, doll like girl who looked several years the others junior, leapt up from her seat and grasped Divus’ hand. It was all he could do to stop himself from falling over backwards from this sudden move.
“Hi, I’m Athena! Sorceress Extraordinaire! Nice to meet you!” She cheerfully shouted.
“U-um Divus, likewise.” He doubtfully replied. New World was age restricted, probably due to the realism features like pain, and Athena looked more like she was still in her mid-teens. There was no way she was an NPC was there?
They all took a seat around the table, with Trevor leaning in to whisper “She’s actually 18,” as Divus looked at him questioningly.
“So what have you been doing? We saw you with an NPC, but that was ages ago. You got a class yet?”
Divus told them about Peter, though not many details as he was a bit ashamed of his new ‘hidden class’. And so they all shared their own adventures through a shouted, half-heard conversation one would expect from crowded pubs. From what he gathered, apart from Athena, everyone had much easier and rather standard routes to getting their class. Dash had to kill a wolf by himself, Trevor had a stealth based test he had to pass and Beauty only needed to memorise and perform a song. She didn’t even need to do it well. Most their benefits sounded better as well! Like Dash had an added effectiveness and learning speed of all weapon proficiencies and a special warrior attack. The only negatives were a few restrictions on the skills they could learn, like Dash couldn’t learn anything stealth based and Trevor couldn’t learn some support skills.
“Why is it s-so busy?” Divus eventually asked, “It wasn’t anywhere near this bad l-last time I was here.”
“Dude, I know you haven’t been online for a while, but have you been living in a cave?!?” Dash responded, slightly bemused. “New Worlds popularity has skyrocketed!”
Well he might not have been in a cave, but he hadn’t been conscious… “Um, h-how many people are playing it now then?”
“Last I heard it was over a million. And it’s constantly going up!”
1 million?! That was ten times his best estimate.
“Yeah, the noobs are really getting rampant, especially with only 4 starting cities. We need to move on really. You want to join us? You’re probably a few levels lower than us but it should be ok!” Trevor asked.
That was exactly what he’d been planning to do anyway! “Yeah that woul-“
Halfway into his response the taverns door crashed open and a troop of armoured soldiers burst into the room. The music quickly halted and all conversations stopped as everyone turned to see what they wanted. Much to his horror they made their way directly to Divus.
“Excuse me, are you Peter’s disciple?” Asked their leader.
After a brief pause Divus managed to shakily answer. “U-um, y-yes. C-can I help?”
“You’ve been urgently summoned by Captain Donovan, please follow me to the Watch House immediately.”
“W-wait a minute! W-wha-“
“Of course your friends are welcome to accompany you, but I was told to bring you with upmost urgency!”
Still completely confused by the turn of events Divus was half dragged out of his seat and marched into the street. A couple of soldiers left behind looked at the four left behind questioningly. They shared a quick glance then got to their feet and followed on outside. The worry of what they might be getting involved in completely eclipsed by this completely unheard of turn of events.


Dash sat with his companions before a desk in a rather large office. The window to their left overlooked a stone courtyard where members of the city guard were practicing various drills. The room itself was rather austere, the only furnishings being the desk and chair behind it, and their own seats. It left the entire room feeling even larger than it was in its near emptiness.
                At their backs stood the leader of the troop who’d dragged Divus away earlier while behind the desk was who he could only assume Captain Donovan and his aid, both looking incredibly serious.
                How had he gotten into this situation? He’d just been in the tavern having a drink like his party often liked to do. Somehow the medieval style felt much more comfortable than all the modern day student pubs.
                Then Trevor had brought along that slack Divus, who despite not playing at all for the last few days somehow had managed to scrounge equipment just as good as his own! Dash had worked hard to make his party probably the best in Richmond, he’d gone and faced a ferocious wolf, that most players hadn’t even teamed up to beat yet, all on his own. And he’d only been level 10 when doing so! The battle had cost a few healing potions, but after he’d finally attained the much sought after warrior class, quite early compared to others. His companions were pretty balanced, with a thief and a bard, he’d even managed to recruit a mage! She might well be the only player mage in the game so far! Poor girl had probably fallen for him; he was more interested in older women. Then Divus comes along having only played for like two days and he has a better sword!
                Still, Dash was cool with it. He was even willing to let him join their party, even if he was only going to mooch experience off them.  But then an entire squad of soldiers storm into the tavern, march straight up to Divus and take him to their commander!!
                It was pretty cool walking through the streets with what felt like an honour guard, all the other players stopped and looked over at them, wondering where they were going. It was the first time any NPCs had reached out to players like this so it felt pretty cool to be a part. But it felt like he was riding on Divus’ coat-tails!
                “My apologies for bringing you here on such short notice, but the matter’s quite urgent.” The guard captain said, bringing Dash’s attention back to the present. “Which one of you is Peter’s apprentice?”
                “I-I am.” Divus replied.
                “Ah yes, I do remember seeing you with him… Well I’ll try to be brief. You know we have an alliance with the Beastmen Kingdom correct?”
                They all shook their heads, “U-um, no we didn’t.”
                Donovan sharply looked up, then sighed while muttering something about foreigners. “Almost since they founded their kingdom we’ve been in an alliance against the Lothargian Empire, a defensive pact against a sudden invasion. This has long kept the peace between us and the Empire, a peace that is vital we maintain.”
                He paused for his captive audience to nod in understanding. “Recently, however, we’ve stopped receiving contact from the Beastmen. They send a monthly envoy, and he’s several weeks late already. We’ve sent messengers of our own of course, but none have yet to return. We know your order does not traditionally interfere with nations but we believe some kind of monster has settled somewhere in the pass to the Beastmen Kingdom, so we request you send our message to them. If Lothargian learns of this it may spell all-out war! It’s a large request, but we’ll make sure you and your companions are suitably rewarded.”

Quest: Message to the Beastmen Kingdom
The Kingdom of Albion has been unable to communicate with their allies the Beastmen since a month ago. Without their alliance a war with the Lothargian Empire seems likely. The Captain of Richmond Guard has asked for your aid.
·         Difficulty: C
·         Completion conditions: Make contact with the Beastmen and discover why contact was stopped
·         Failure conditions: Time limit of 45 in game days
·         Rewards: Increased intimacy with the Kingdom of Albion, money and/or rare equipment

                As the screen popped up in front of Dash and his party their eyes collectively widened. A C difficulty quest?! The hardest quest anyone had yet to complete so far was only E, even a D level quest would probably be too much for their current level. But they had to think carefully about this. Being the first to complete something on this level might be-
                “I accept.”
                “What the hell are you doing?!” Dash spluttered at Divus.
                “You guys don’t need to join me, but I have to do this quest.” He answered with a slightly pained expression.
                “I accept too!” Athena yelled. Her comrades looked at her in mild surprise, but she’d always been doing whatever she felt like.
                “But still you guys we-“
                “Looks like the decisions already been made Dash,” Trevor interrupted, “At the very least it sounds pretty interesting!”
                Dash looked around at his team; Beauty was visibly excited at the prospective challenge, Trevor was trying not to look too keen and Athena was kicking her legs while humming to herself. He sighed at the lot of them.
                “Looks like we’re in.”
                “Thank you all for your help, we’re sending other messengers to try to divert around the mountains, but if you could find out what’s happening in the pass it would be an invaluable service.”
                “Th-that’s fine captain, but I was wondering if you could spare us a few things to help in our journey?”
                “Certainly, we’ll provide horses for you to use until you return. As well as provisions and maps and-“

                “Actually there was something slightly more specific I wanted,” Divus said, then explained his idea.

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