Seanzilla

B: Dungeon Master Online E1

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It has been about an hour since the DMO servers finally opened and were immediately flooded by hapless gamers. Many were too scared to venture out into the world and decided to remain safely in the confines of their starting Town to avoid being killed by monster or Player Killer alike. Not all of the duped were craven; slowly groups started pouring out of the Towns in every direction, hoping that undertaking quests with allies would relieve some of the danger.

 

Our adventure begins in the rural Town of Winterhaven, a starting area known for being one of the smallest Towns in Varuna, being home to but a few NPCs. Surrounded by the Silver Sea, the Alares mountain range and the Fall.

 

One group of adventurers sick of inaction has recently formed within the walls of this town. Five victims of circumstance have found each other and decided to work together to get find a way to get rid of this dreaded world.

 

Jemi the Human Fighter, Bhaskan the Dragonborn Warlord, Ash the Eladrin Rogue, Serafinn the Human Sorcerer and Cha'tril the Dragonborn Binder have formed their first party in the middle of Winterhaven’s Market Square.

 

Now it is time for them to set out and find their first quest!

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Bhaskan took charge of the situation. He surveyed the ragtag group that had been formed and nodded in approval. He was an imposing figure standing at 6'5'' with a wide, muscular frame. He was a Dragonborn, and so naturally he was covered in scales. His were a golden colour, his orange, reptilian eyes darting quickly from left to right as he considered his words. 

 

"Good!" he said finally, a thin smile forming across his face, his teeth pointed and dangerous-looking. He adjusted the belt that held his Warhammer, and flexed his left, shield-bearing arm. He was dressed in silver chainmail, and his light shield was a circular targe, allowing him to stay fairly mobile despite his bulkier frame. Bhaskan was as fresh-faced to Winterhaven as anyone else, but he had done his homework. "Sure enough, we have a strong alliance in each other, a balanced team will benefit us in the times ahead. However, before we find glory, we must find it's master. What say we solidify our new friendship with a drink? I hear Wrafton's is the place to be in Winterhaven. We should go there and talk with the locals, perhaps see if they are in need of our services."

 

His eyes moved across the team, a Rogue, a Sorcerer, a Binder and a Fighter. He wasn't sure what to make of them, only time would tell him the truth. 

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Serafinn's eyes looked from behind the slight mesh over the eye holes of his mask to the large man in front of him. He felt like he was one of the few people in the group that wasn't huge, but that had nothing to do with how useful one would be. He felt confident in the class he had fallen under, as he didn't actually pick it on his own. The server he had joined has glitched during his character creation and turned him into a Sorcerer. However, in the end it felt perfect as his appearance garnered the perfect amount of hilarity and awe from folks as he wanted and wished to give. His outfit for the most part was very colorful in certain spots. A shoulder cloak covered down to about his waist on his left side while his right was left open to show off his gloved hand grasping a fancy cane that seemed very detailed. The glistening gem on the top shimmered with different colors and when the large man finished talking and suggested a tavern to begin their journey, he twirled the cane and laid the gem on the ground, creating a ball of sparks that blazed in different colors. After he laid it down he swung his cane like a golf club and shot the spark in the air, making a firework blast. 

 

"Here here!" Serafinn cried out with anticipation, before speaking up to say something himself. "Good gentlemen and fair lady, I look forward to the adventures that await us on the road ahead. Working together, nothing will stand between us and glory! After all, we're already the master of it! We simply need to claim it! HA HA! You may call me Serafinn, and I'll be providing the larger portion of magic for the group. I'll keep to a slight distance from our foes to optimize my effectiveness, but don't feel you need sacrifice yourself to take a shot for me! I'm a hardy fellow myself! HA HA!" He laughed hardily from deep down in his stomach, it wasn't a deep laugh, but you could tell he had the energy behind it to show his excitement. What surprised him only a little was that the mask actually muffled his voice a little like it would if he wore one in the real world. It seemed slightly strange, but he paid it no mind, simply beginning to saunter down to the tavern that was suggested. Perhaps a glass of wine? A tankard of ale?

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The spacious Wrafton’s Inn has become the place to be for anyone trying to relax and get rid of all the stress after a hard day’s work. The wooden building is held together by several square pillars, reaching up till the ceiling, and decorated with several candle wall lanterns, paintings of prominent (deceased) members of Winterhaven’s community and Salvana Wrafton’s wide smile.

The many wooden tables spread across the floor all have their own brass candlestick. The many patrons, PC and NPC alike, are spread out among the tables and enjoying the either various types of beer, wine and spirits available or Salvana’s cooking.

The creaking door tells Salvana’s more adventurers have stepped into her humble abode. Without a second to waste she turns towards them and greets them with the smile she is known for.

“Welcome!â€

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A young Eladrin male called Ash sat with his legs swinging over the side of a rafter, watching the various NPC's and players going about their business. His hair was a light golden colour and came down past his shoulders, his eyes were a bright green and he had soft, handsome features with long ears that ended in sharp points. While swinging his legs back and forth impatiently, he was staring off into space and popping his lips like a goldfish. Then, a few moments later it was as though he'd just come out of a daydream.
"Still getting that error message..." Ash muttered, "... guess the rumours are true." He sighed to himself and stopped swinging his legs. With a single, well-controlled leap he plummeted to the floor and landed gracefully as though he'd just taken a step down.

For a moment, he eyed the group that had entered. He didn't know them all that well, he'd talked to them before, he'd had to in order to join this party, but he wasn't really sure what he thought of them yet. They were certainly a motley crew. As he stood there, watching them approach, an idea came to mind for the first time since everything had gone wrong. These players who were still killing other players in the game - they were committing real murder now. Ash shivered, he was fine with killing other players who picked on others but he could hardly do that now. He'd have to be careful if such a thing presented itself.

"Hey!" He called over, "I'm just going to talk to that Inn Owner NPC, okay?" He waved at them and without waiting for a response, traipsed over to the owner, Salvana Wrafton, and cleared his throat, "Afternoon!" He said cheerily, taking a gold piece from his pocket, Ash began turning it back and forth between his fingers skilfully.

“Afternoon! Care for a drink, good sir?†She replied.
"Ah, no." Ash chuckled and shook his head, "I'll get straight to the point. Me and my new friends over there-" Ash motioned towards the group, "-We're looking for a good quest, something that isn't going to get us killed. It's sort of permanent now."

"A good quest, eh? You'd have to ask Ernest, he might know something. He is the solemn-looking fellow there in the corner."

"Oh..." Ash frowned and turned to look at the man in question. "Give me one of whatever he drinks."

"Here you go, that'll be be 2 silver." She said, handing him a pitcher of ale.
Serafinn interjects as she asks for the money for Ash's drink. "One for me too please!" Shifting through his belt pouch he flicks a gold coin onto the counter. "And keep the change my fine lady."
Ash smirked as he took the drink, "Roleplayers..." He rolled his green, pupiless eyes. Crossing the room he sat at the table beside Ernest and dropped the drink that Serafinn had bought for him in his stead. "Here you go - so, i'm told you can tell us of a quest?"

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Jemi looked solemnly at the measly five pieces of gold she had left in her hand, hardly paying attention to the higher than normal activity in the inn. As if being fatally trapped in a video game wasn't a situation in itself, she was virtually broke as well.

 

"Well hell," she pouted, not even bothering to stay in character.

 

The moment she had finished creating the heroine that she would lead to the journey of a lifetime she heard the other panicked players news. Oddly enough, she wasn't taking it as fearfully as most of the other players and that could be the reason she found herself mingling with this group. Between panic and, well, these strangers she felt at least a little more comfortable and assured that the fate of unlucky is less likely to find her as well.

 

Still occupied in her own distracted thoughts, Jemi messied her unfamiliar, chestnut hair that she picked from a list of the game defaults. After a few more strokes the surreal feeling hit. She was in a body that she painstakingly customized to resemble herself but in another world--the real world-- it wasn't even real. The avatar's short but sturdy-build character was outfitted in silver scale armor that was accented with a vibrant blue. Thanks to many games worth of practice, she was pretty skilled in building her avatars' faces to resemble her own aside from a sharper chin and softer cheekbones. The shield that she also left to its default appearances had a noticeable weight resting on her forearm, as did her simple battleaxe that leaned against her outer thigh. A fake weight.

 

Jemi closed her ice blue eyes and immediately shook off this feeling after the thought. "If I'm going to die in this game, I'm not going to do it screaming in circles like these plebes! I'm ready for drinks and the adventure of the century!"

 

With a forceful thrust, Jemi's gold-filled fist hovered over her head and and she followed with a roar. "ALE! TWO!"

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The moment Serafinn got his fingers around the handle of the large glass, he lifted his mask slightly from the bottom, showing a bare chin and a bottom lip that wrapped around the edge of the glass and sipped down the cool beverage slowly. He drank until it was empty and placed the glass down on the bar with a content sigh.

 

"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. That was refreshing!" He smiled underneath the mask which caused some sparkles to flutter about his porcelain face, making it seem strange that no one could see his face, yet was having a 'handsome moment'. He simply opened his pouch again and put another gold piece down. "My lovely bar maiden, could I trouble you for a bottle of your 'finest' wine?" He put some emphasis on finest to make sure she didn't skimp out on giving him only the 'second finest'.

 

"Right away! You sure are throwing your money around, aren't you? Not that I mind, of course." She replied hardily.

 

"My dear, life is worth living. And money, pardon the expression, is like manure! It's not worth a damn unless it's spread around to allow things to grow! HA HA!" He laughed as he picked up the piece of gold again and began to twirl it between his fingers.

 

"Please stay around and lecture all these louts. I pray they one day share your beliefs!" She seemed to like Serafinn's chipper attitude about thing, and it obviously kept the tap running.

 

"If only my dear, if only.  I wish more people would grow into young eccentrics. The world would be a much more interesting place." He let the coin flip between his fingers before he pulled it from behind her ear and placed it in her hand. "But until then, I'll keep your spirits running!" Serafinn noticed Jemi's fistful of gold and raised his glass of wine to her booming demand of ale. "HERE HERE! HA HA!"

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Bhaskan kept quiet in the merriment. Like everyone else he was concerned, but he couldn't show it to them, he had to maintain the illusion. After all, in here, he was a brave and honorable Warlord, a member of the Dragonborn, a race who had a deep and rich history, built on honor and glory through battle. He decided to throw his lot in with the Eladrin, at least he seemed more concerned with a quest than with drinking.

"Come now, Ash" Bhaskan scolded gently as he patted the Rogue on the back. "No need to rush the man." He added as he motioned to the NPC. "A quest is one thing, but surely it follows after a tale? We must make sure this quest is of noble intentions, the last thing you want is to be meddling with a bad lot, rest assured."

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Ernest Padraig had barely finished his first pitcher of ale when an Eladrin sat across from him and offered him a drink. “My thanks, but you didn’t have to bribe me if all you wanted was a quest.†Ernest took a sip of his fresh ale when a Dragonborn decided to mingle with the party.

“If it’s a tale you want, it’s a tale you shall receive.†He halted for a second in order to put his thoughts in order before he spoke. “To the north of our Town you can find the Alares Mountains. Long ago it was the location of a Dwarven goldmine, but they have long since abandoned it and left it to all kinds of ill creatures.

He took another sip and furrowed his brow. “Recently a group of goblins have taken refuge in the mines, but with little nourishment to be found under the ground they have taken to plundering and terrorizing any nearby farms.

“Sadly Winterhaven does not have the martial might to combat their raids, but a pack of adventurers much like you seemed eager to get rid of them once the thought of glory settled into them. Sadly they have not returned. Since you are looking for work, would you mind taking care of my goblin problem? I’d also appreciate it if you could find out what became of the 4 adventurers.â€

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"Now my dear." Serafinn whispers as he lowers his head and motions for her to listen closely, so no one else can hear. "I know you have some people in this place that give more...shady folk their starting missions. Do you perhaps have something special for my band of merry allies and myself?"

 

The question caught her off guard, but Serafinn seemed quite the charmer and the information simply began to flow from her mouth. “Oh, my, I think I might know someone. You should have a word with Valthrun, I am sure he has something he’ll want you to… procure.†Serafinn's ears perked at the name and he looked to her to ask her another question.

 

"Valthrun...and where might I find this gentleman my dear?" He said quietly, but with great interest as he began to sip from his glass of wine.

 

"He's the bookworm over yonder. Careful, he talks a lot when he gets excited." She smiled as as she pointed him out.

 

"Bookworm you say? Well nothing more legitimate than an educated man!" He smiled beneath his mask which caused more sparkles to appear around him, as he stepped away from the bar and made his way to Valthrun.

 

“The masked fellow, hmm...†he said without lifting his eyes from the pages of his book, “does it serve any purpose or is it simply to draw attention? You should be careful with that, trying too hard to be in the spotlight might indicate psychological problems.†The words struck Serafinn as somewhat important, thinking over them with precise thinking to make sure he answered him properly.

 

His mask. He never really thought why he wore it. He didn't even remember where he had gotten it. When he awoke in the world it was on his face. "I don't entirely know why I have this mask, and since I don't know why, it must carry some sort of importance. So to keep it from breaking or being stolen, I simply keep it on! HA HA! Now, my bookish friend, the lovely bar mistress told me you were looking for some adventurers to procure something?"

 

Valthrun closed his book and directed his gaze at the mask. Sadly it made him unable to read the person he was talking to. "I'm sorry. I have no idea what you're talking about." Serafinn knew he'd have to try a little harder to get the information from Valthrun. Something he learned early on in his adventure was that his gaze was very charming. It allowed him to sway people's thoughts about him.

 

Serafinn  lowered his mask so it showed just his eyes to they met their gazes. "Are you sure you don't know what I'm talking about?"

 

"Hmm... Let's talk somewhere else. Meet me in my tower in 20 minutes. Leave your "close-minded" friends here." With that Valthrun exited the pub. Serafinn chuckled to himself before stepping to Jemi, tapping her shoulder and telling her he would be back in just a little bit, he had to meet with someone for a mission.

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The final member of the party to enter the tavern silently retreated to the small corner booth towards the back of the tavern. As he walked, his steps were accompanied by a barely audible 'tap tap tap' as he felt his way around the room. It appeared that he was blind, his pupil-less silver-gray eyes gazing into an unseen distance, yet curiously he managed to weave through the crowd with ease, even pausing to let a particularly rowdy pair of patrons pass in front of him, locked in a small brawl over who was to pick up the tab.  Even more curious than his apparent prescience, however, was that the table was empty. It seemed as if it had been waiting for him and it wasn't until he sat down that a passing waitress seemed to acknowledge its existence.  With a vaguely bewildered smile, she took the newcomer's drink order before scurrying to the bar.

 

As if created in polar opposition to the other Dragonborn, this one's scales were an inky black. One could almost imagine it to be a glitch in the game's textures were it not for the flecks of silver which dotted their surface- Stars frozen upon a canvas of endless night. Though he stood close to the other's height, his physique was far slimmer and appeared sharper and more reptilian- an appearance that could perhaps best be described as "predatory". In addition to the multitude of short spines which dotted the bony ridges running the length of his scalp, a pair of fin-like frills sprouted from his cheeks. Currently they were set flat against his neck, however every so often one or the other would shudder, as if shaking off a pestering fly.

They had something in common, though- Both of the dragon-kin looked like warriors. The golden one in his shining chainmail and warhammer, the black one in ash-gray leather, a longsword at his side and a quarterstaff gripped tightly in his hand.

 

"The Magic Words are Squeamish Ossifrage." He muttered, setting a palm-sized lump of polished crystal on the table in front of him. Impatiently, he tapped his clawed fingers on the table, repeating the phrase several more times. "Why isn't it working?" he grumbled, his voice a bare hiss compared to the din of the tavern around him.  At the very least, there should have been some form of feedback. A flicker in the candle's flame, a shift in the table's woodgrain. He had coded this particular section of the game explicitly for this purpose. A back door which circumvented  DMO's "normal" logging system. It had taken him months of preparation and untold days of delving deep into Sandstorm's databases. A feat many called impossible, and he had done it. Needless to say, he was quite proud of the accomplishment

 

Regardless of any action he took, he was still left sitting alone at the inn's corner table, glaring daggers at the offending piece of furniture. He sighed, shifting forward once more as he closed his eyes. "The Gilded Emperor Requests a Largiloquent Dithyramb." The master key- a code of the highest importance. Hard coded into his customized VRH-X, it immediately activated the helmet's myriad safety features, severing him from the game world in an instant.

Or at least…  It should have.

 

His eyes slowly opened revealing not the interior screens of his helmet, much to his chagrin, but the concerned face of the waitress who had returned with his drink. He hastily hid the crystal in his chest pocket, waving the girl away with a small grin, "Just a bit of a ritual I have...  don't worry much about it."

 

And he was alone again.

 

Staring silently into his mead, he pondered what the future would hold.  Oddly enough, he noticed a smile crossing his reptilian features, exposing a great number of razor-sharp teeth. "I guess... it's time to see just how deep the rabbit hole goes…"

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Finally, they had found a quest. And a good one at that. Bhaskan left Ernest to his own devices, perhaps Ash would wish to speak with him more. However he noted that Serafinn had taken his leave, along with another fellow in the pub. It seemed that they had time to spare. However, as far as Bhaskan was concerned, time to spare was not simply time to waste. He scanned the room in search of further leads. He recalled that the Goblins had been descending from the abandoned mine, and were attacking farms. His gaze fell upon an old man in the corner. He strode towards him. 

 

"Greetings!" Bhaskan said politely as he sat at a chair across from the old man. "I'm Bhaskan. Am I wrong to assume you have a farm around here?"

“Hoho, greetings. You are correct in your assumption.†the old man replied. 

"I hear that the farms around here are in a spot of bother. Tell me about it, um...sorry I didn't catch your name." Bhaskan responded, leaning forward so he could hear the old man clearly. 

“My name is Ellian, known as Ellian the Old to all these young’uns. As it happens I’ve been having some goblin trouble. Pesky goblins have been raiding my farm whenever they need food. It ain’t right. Now, say young man, what might your name be?â€

 

"It's Bhaskan" the Warlord responded, a little tested at having to repeat his name, but it was important to allow tolerance to the old. "I travel with a hardy bunch. We mean to deal with this problem at it's source, in the abandoned mine. You have seen the goblins first hand, however, perhaps you can offer me some information you have gathered from your experience?"

“Hoho, sorry to say my fighting days are over. Not much I can tell you about them. Tried to avoid them as much as possible or I’d likely receive a sword in my back. I reckon a hardy bunch might be able to take care of them.†The old man scratched his beard and squinted at the Dragonborn. “Say, young man, I reckon you might need to see a doctor, your skin is yellow! Oh… what did you say your name was again?â€

 

Bhaskan's patience was wearing thin. Still, he decided to press on. "It's Bhaskan!" he snapped irritably, "Now you say you stayed away during the attack, but what about afterwards? Was there anything strange or noteworthy that you might have seen? Perhaps they dropped something important? Or did they take something from you? I could attempt to retrieve it."

 

“I have to say, young man, I don’t like your tone.†Ellian’s goofy smile disappeared from his face. “If you’re that eager to retrieve goat milk and meat, be my guest, but it is likely to be rotten by now. I have no use for it. If you’re looking for some kind of reward, go ask Padraig.†Bhaskan paused for thought. Speaking of goats, what had gotten the old man's all of a sudden? A sudden shift in behaviour wasn't to be ignored. He decided to press further. 

 

"I am a man of honor, Ellian." he explained, "I quest for glory, and for the benefit of this society we share. I have great respect for a man of the land like yourself, someone who has spent his life sustained through the sweat off his own back. It is sad to see such an honest profession turned to ruin by insufferable little creatures like goblins. But do not think me a fool, old man, Tell me what is troubling you?"

 

“Listen, young man, If you are so intent on knowing what is troubling me. All I want is my farm back. My peace and quiet. The idea of goblins coming and going as they please tires me more than the work I put into the farm.†Ellian let out a sigh. “Please, stop pestering me and get rid of the goblins, or don’t. Just stop bothering me about it.â€

 

"Rest assured the goblins will meet their fate at our hands, old man." Bhaskan said with an assuring nod. "This is a mission I have already undertaken. You seem troubled by something else. If you know something more, you should tell us. Knowing could be the difference of life and death. We are not the first to tackle this challenge. And the others...well. Perhaps the knowledge you hold will grant us better fortune, don't you think?"

 

“I know two things. They are many. At least twenty, maybe even thirty, and they are vicious. I’m sorry, young man, but no matter how hard you press that is all I can say. If that help, I'm glad.†Bhaskan sighed, resigning himself to the facts. Ellian didn't know anything else. He nodded and quickly got up out of the chair. 

"Thank you for your time, old man" Bhaskan said before he took his leave. He made for the door of the Inn. He turned to address the members of his group that were still in the bar. 

 

"There's no sense waiting around much longer. Once Serafinn returns we should gather back at Market Square when we are ready to embark. I'll await you all there." he said before walking out of the door, closing it behind him. 

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After telling Jemi about his meeting with someone who had a mission for them, Serafinn walked out of the pub and made his way to the tower Valthrun told him about, which was in fact the only tower in the town. He chuckled to himself, thinking in his head, "Either he needs space for all his books, or perhaps he's hiding something. Serafinn the Magnificent will see for himself!" with a twirl of his cane he knocked on the door to thw tower, waiting to be invited in like a proper gentleman.

 

"Welcome." Valthrun opened the door and welcomed Serafinn into the tower. The room, which was a combination of a study and a bedroom, was a mess. Nearly every bit of surface was covered by an open book. "I might have a job for you."

 

"Do tell then my well-versed friend!" He walked into the room, making an effort to not step on any books, looking for a chair to sit on. "I'm very interested to know."

 

"Hmm... you might not have heard, but several months ago bandits raided Winterhaven. The damage they did was minimal, but they managed to get away with Padraig's signet ring.How the fool managed to lose it is beyond me, but I'd like you to retrieve it for me. Hmm, yes, I would greatly appreciate it."

 

"Padraig? Who might I ask is that my fine fellow?" Serafinn put his feet up a moment as he tipped his hat upward to look at Valthrun while he spoke to him. "Just so I understand who I'm risking my well-shaved neck for."

 

"Hmm, you would be risking it for me, I assure you. Ernest Padraig is this settlement's lord, but the narrowminded fool is inhibiting my research. His ring would give me a certain, hmmm, bargaining chip."

 

"Bargaining chip? Do tell." He smiled beneath the mask, hoping perhaps there might be a nice cut for him and his group if this was as important as he was making it out to be.

 

"The ring isn't worth much, simply sentimental value, but I am sure he would be willing to grant me access to the Fall. Hmm, yes, it is likely that he would do as much to get his family's ring back."

 

"I see. And, pardon the...forward nature I might present now. But what shall you grant me in return? For such an important job, I would hope I'd be recieving something worth my while." He grinned, if the reward was somewhat less than he'd hope, he'll put on the charm.

 

"I don't have much to offer but gold, sadly. Hmm, before you think of going to Padraig, remember that I can match any amount he offers you."

 

"Gold is fairly simple to acquire. What about something a little more interesting?" He lowered his mask a little to look the Valthrun in the eyes. "Perhaps a magical item of some sort?"

 

"Hmm, I'm sorry but you'll be hard pressed to find anyone willing to give you any magic items for a copper signet ring."

 

"Perhaps so. Why don't we negotiate on a price once the ring is retrieved?" He smiled, standing back up and twirling his cane to lay on his shoulder as he extended his other gloved hand.

 

"Hmm, before thinking of your reward, do you even know where the bandits are?"

 

"If you don't know, I'm sure someone in town does. Perhaps one of my compatriots has received word of their whereabouts." He kept his hand held out, not wanting to pull it back to seem rude.

 

Valthrun reached out for his hand. "You're being silly, Mr. Mask. I wouldn't waste my time with you just to send you on a wild goose chase. You'll find the bandits at the Silver Keep to the south east. Hmm, I'd be careful, though, they're a particularly vicious bunch." Valthrun flashed a sly smile, "I look forward to hearing from you."

 

"Of course my friend. And please, call me Serafinn! HA HA!" He shook his hand before walking to the door, tipping his hat to Valthrun. "Until next time." He walked out, going to find his group. Serafinn thought of what he had said and the expression he had given before he left, considering going to talk Padraig if he could. Just to gauge the possible trustworthiness of both of them.

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After receiving her drinks, Jemi thought it was best to make herself useful like the rest. Without even changing her glance, she immediately locked her sights on a tall and elegantly designed player a few feet from her. 

 

"Excuse me, I'm Jemi," the fighter introduced as she chugged on of her pitchers of ale. She only know realize it was an elf and she strangely felt excited. This game was amazing despite being dangerous. "Do you know anything about what's going on. Anything /more/ than most everyone else you think?"

 

The Ranger diverted his attention toward her. "More? Sorry missy, all I know is that we're stuck here for good."

 

"Nothing at all? Not even someone who might think could have that information?"

 

He sighed. "Listen up, missy, unless you can find the asshole who put us all in here you won't get any answers. You aren't the only one with questions, so go stand in the back of the line."

 

As much as she tries, Jemi's cool is going more quickly than this rude shmuck. As calm of a composure she attempts to keep, she can feel her brows furrow and teeth grit and took another large chug of one of her drinks.

"Well that does sound like a good idea, buddy," she said with a raised voice, slamming the empty pitcher on a nearby table. "If i could find a mod or such it'd probably go a lot smoother and faster than this. So your best bet to be some kind of useful to me is to at least point me to an administrator so i can cut in that 'line'."

 

The Elf was taken aback by the girl's sudden aggressiveness. "If you open your GUI, you'll see a tab to talk to a GM. No one I know of has been able to, though. They might be busy handling all the players complaints, but I've heard rumors that there aren't any GMs in the first place."

 

"No GMs in an MMO," Jemi mused curiously. "That would've been nice knowing earlier! Are these just general rumors or is there a specific person who told you this?"

 

"I already told you. No one knows anything, as far as I know. If anyone here has any knowledge about how this game works, I promise you you'll hear everyone talking about it. Though, there is a group of adventurers who set out immediately when the game started, from what I've heard they've completed all the quests in this town already. I'd guess they know the most about the game at this point."

 

"Sounds like a good idea then! Thanks for info. If I find out anything more I'll see about getting it to you as well." 

 

After another thanks, Jemi followed through and sent a friend request to the elf. The name "Faeron" in her "requests sent" list at least gave the satisfaction that he could be reached.

 

"I'm guessing you're Jemi. Fine, I'll accept."

 

Jemi smirked amusingly. "Good luck," she wished as she quickly attempted to contact a GM through the GUI.

 

Currently there are no GMs available to respond to your issue. Our apologies, but try again later.

 

Just as he said. She finished her remaining pitcher and placed it on the same table before leaving her new "friend" in peace. Through the crowded mess of players, the short fighter caught a glimpse of Bhaskan who seemed to have been set on a goal. Before she could reach him, Serafinn caught her off-guard to tell her that he was leaving briefly to meet with someone. "I suppose I should tell Bhaskan," she thought to herself.

 

Jemi did and included the little bit of information she found out herself before the scaly creature left. Whether or not anyone else found it relevant, Jemi was stuck on the "missing" GMs. Although the majority of the rumors were that most or all of the game's staff were dead, it made sense to her that if the game still ran there was a chance that someone in the company could be around either maintaining or stuck just like the rest.

 

With two of her members gone, and one seemingly preoccupied, it seemed fitting to do as Bhaskan requested and head to the Market Square. It would hopefully be less packed in that area.

 

She eyed the inn again before setting her sights on Cha'tril who seemed to be lost in thought. There was no need for every member to split from the rest, so she swerved her way through the crowd to him and invited him to the market. "A nice change in scene and maybe something interesting," she marketed. He agreed and the two left.

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The Market square was bustling with activity-  Well-- "bustling" as much as it could, considering the small size of the town, with a few of shops selling assorted foodstuffs to passersby, and a young lady selling flowers from a basket.  Cha'tril had heard of this NPC, but only in passing.  Perhaps he could gather some useful information from her…

 

"My dear, those are particularly lovely flowers," Cha'tril approached with a smile, ensuring to avoid baring his teeth. After all, that was part of what made Dragonborn such good intimidators. They could be used as a particularly effective "incentive" when dealing with people.  "How much are you asking for them?"

 

"H-hello, sir," Delphina replied, unaccustomed to the sight of Dragonborn in Winterhaven. "They are 2 silver pieces per flower... would you like one?"

 

"Two silver? Why that's quite a deal for such beautiful flowers." He nodded, removing a gold piece from a pouch on his belt, handing it over. "I would like two, please.  And do keep the change."

 

"Why thank you!" Cha'tril's generosity planted a wide pearly-white smile on Delphina's face. She quickly pocketed the coin he gave her and plucked the two prettiest flowers out of her basket. "Here you go."

 

Cha'tril graciously accepted the flowers, giving a cursory sniff. "Say…  you haven't heard of any strange going on around here, have you? I imagine a you hear all sorts of gossip walking around this place?"

 

"I'm afraid I'm not that knowledgeable about the area..." She pondered for a moment, "but I have heard some weird rumors lately. Travelers from the west have mentioned that the Fall is haunted... I'm not sure it's true, though. The Fall has always been an eerie place, best avoid it."

 

"Haunted? Goodness, I'll be sure to keep that in mind during my travels...   Anything else?"

 

"I'm afraid that's all I've heard... You'd have to check the inn, maybe some patrons know more."

 

"Quite alright, my dear.  Thank you for your time. And the flowers, of course!"

 

He carried on milling about the shops, turning  to Jemi once out of earshot of the flower girl, whom had already been approached by a new customer. "Here.  I've never been much of a fan of the things..." He said in a low voice, pushing the pair of flowers into her hand. "In any case, it's got us a bit of information. 'The Fall' is a forest out west….  In the later days of the Old Empire, it was the site of a great ambush…  hundreds of commoners fought the Emperor and his Hundred Knights, slaughtering them to the man. Even the emperor ended up dead." He casually rattled off a few other bits of history with a shrug.  "I'd wager that it'd be a good place to check for what's going on with the game."

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Watching as the group of players seemed to disband and head in all manner of directions, Ash rubbed the bridge of his nose in frustration. This was like playing any other MMO, people claim they want to group up and then decide to fly off in every which way, ignoring the group mechanic. This wasn't going to work if everyone was going to stray from the group, especially not if there was a battle. He wanted treasure, sure, but whether he could die for real or not, there was no way he was going to die for this group right now. If it came to that, he'd leave them mid-fight, there was a reason he had chosen to be a Rogue.

 

So what was happening now, then? Were they fighting goblins as the NPC had mentioned or what? Ash looked around the room, confused at the state of the group and shrugged his shoulders. It seemed for now, as had always been the case in the past, he was going to have to rely on himself for progression in this game. He had to be careful though, and remind himself that death in the game could mean death in real life, if that really was true... wouldn't it be better for him to just sit in an inn and hope that they patch the problem? Only thing about that was, this wasn't exactly a problem that would get through testing. Had the system been hacked? Maybe a virus...

Lost in his thoughts, Ash stood up from the table, ignoring the NPC any further and walking out of the inn and onto the street. He'd wait a little while, but not long. If this group didn't decide to come together quickly and work as a team, he was out. Ash knew he would rather spend a few weeks drinking in a virtual pub and live to tell the tale, than spend a few hours with a group of newbie players and wind up dead for real. It was getting late though, the sun would be going down soon. He'd give them 'till sunset, and then he'd decide what to do if they weren't here.

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After investigating Winterhaven the group has finally decided to move towards the Alares Mountains in the north. After checking if they were prepared one last time they decided to move out when all of a sudden a bright yellow exclamation mark appeared in front of them.

A quick peek towards the other Players in the area revealed that the party of five was the only ones who could see this exclamation mark… it was part of their GUI! It turned out that their GUI was updated with a ‘Quest Log’ tab, containing information on the two Quests they had obtained while in Winterhaven.

That wasn’t all they noticed, as right next to the entrance gates a teleportation circle had suddenly appeared. None of the players had seen this circle during their investigation, which led to the conclusion that they had unknowingly triggered a flag required for the portal to appear. A hooded NPC stood next to the teleportation circle. He smiled once he noticed the group approaching.

“Welcome, adventurers. I notice you have opened up two destinations; the Dwarven goldmine and the Silver Keep. I can bring you to either of these places, for free! Simply say the word and you shall be there in an instant.â€

A game of Rock-Paper-Scissors had decided that they were heading for the Dwarven goldmines, so they told him their destination and stepped on the circle as they were told. “Bye, bye.â€

“Hello.â€

They were looking at the exact same person and standing on the exact same teleportation circle, but their surroundings were different! They were standing in front of a huge stone doubledoor carved into the mountain. They quickly questioned the hooded figure.

“You must be confused, this is the first time we’ve met. You must be talking about my brother! He’s always been a troublemaker. Either way, you’re standing in front of the Alares mountains. You best be careful, I’ve heard there are kobolds in that mine over there… or were they goblins? Oh, well, I've said enough and have grown tired of it. Be on your way and let me know once you've finished your business here.â€

 


 
After a brief discussion it was decided that the group would push open the doors and let Ash go in first, in case there were traps that needed disabling. As they pushed open the doors they heard a loud rumbling sound resonate within the mines and to no one's surprise a group of goblins was ready and waiting.
 
Their bright yellow names hovered above their heads; three Cutters, two Warriors, a Blackblade and a Sharpshooter stood prepared for combat within the black and gold mine. 

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Stepping inside, Ash saw the goblins come to life at the sight of fresh meat. They readied their weapons and as he charged to meet them, an arrow flew past his shoulder, narrowly missing Jemi's neck. Sneering, Ash realised that the close clump of enemies could be dangerous if he got this close, this early in the fight. He pulled a shuriken from his belt and twirled it, "Well as good a time to try these as any!!" With a precise throw, Ash hurled the shuriken towards it's intended target but he had overestimated the force required and it flew over the goblin's shoulder, missing entirely. "Dammit... useless things...." He readied himself for a counter-attack as he hoped at this critical moment, help would soon follow from the rest of the group.

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After dodging the Eladrin’s shuriken the Cutter and his closest ally attempted to flank him, but sadly they couldn’t move fast enough for that. One of their strikes missed but the other managed to scrape the Eladrin’s fair skin.

The third Cutter started dashing towards the other members of the Adventurer’s party, but he didn’t get very far before Serafinn made his move.

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Upon reaching the drafty mine, Serafinn pulled on a black pair of silk gloves just in case he got coal stains on his gloves, no one would notice. It wasn't even a few minutes in when Serafinn noticed the goblin group coming after him and his party. "Ah ha! The enemy comes to us! Have at you!" With a quick leap, Serafinn stepped over to the side of a statue towards the entrance, a torch blazing a few feet from him, making half of his mask glow brightly, almost eerily. With a flourish of his cane, he snapped his fingers, a ball of viscous clear liquid popping out of the top of his hat, floating down to right in front of him, which he hit calmly with his cane. The ball arched over grazing the ceiling as it consumed a Goblin Cutter that was baring down on the group, dissolving his body in less than a second. "HA HA! My little goblin friend, you may keep my acid, but all your base are belong to us! HA HA!"

 

Just as Serafinn finished speaking, he took notice of a Goblin Blackblade running and taking cover to the side near Ash. "My good friend! Keep your eyes open to the left!" He laid his cane on his shoulder, tapping his foot for a moment to think of what to do next.

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Noticing Ash seemed to have trouble close by Bhaskan launched into action, charging forward to stand with his ally. As he approached he readied his hammer, raising it high above his head.

"Get back you wretches!" He roared as he brought his hammer down with a ferocious smash on a nearby Goblin Cutter, crushing the creature under it's might.

He gave an assuring nod to Ash to encourage him, before something shot past his face, and he narrowly avoided it. His attention turned to the advancing Goblin Warriors. He had been lucky to avoid their attack but Seraffin had not been so lucky.

"Dont stray to far Seraffin" he warned his injured ally before turning his attention back towards their enemies. The battle had only just begun, but they had slain two already, victory was not far off, they just had to hold strong.

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Cha'tril followed close behind Baskan, shifting to take a position to the left of the other Dragonborn. As he moved, the star-like flecks on his scales seemed to wink in and out- as if they were being obscured by a group of passing clouds. Indeed, by the time he reached the front lines, a barely visible aura of shadow had surrounded his figure.

 

Cha'tril brandished his quarterstaff, spinning it once before thrusting an end towards the Goblin Sharpshooter. There was a soft 'pop' and a sound reminiscent of ripping silk, and the goblin staggered as if struck. It shrieked, flailing wildly as its eyed were masked in a haze of darkness. It wasn't dead, but at least it wouldn't be able to shoot the adventurers!

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After an incredibly close brush with an enemy arrow, Jemi was for once at a loss for words.

 

Luckily she still moved just fine.

Jemi tightened her grip on her hefty battleaxe and quickly maneuvered around the rest of the group to get a clear shot of the opposing cutter. Any thought of bearing her shield for protection remained as an afterthought, instead taking a sturdy stance and twisting her body in preparation for attack! Possibly surprised from Jemi's actions, the Sharpshooter stumbled forward and attempted another shot at the fighter as she eyed her target carefully.

 

Shwing!

 

It was no good. Jemi had already sliced the Cutter almost perfectly in half just before the arrow flew past her head yet again.

 

It didn't take any words to explain the excitement she felt after her first successful attack and kill. One thing did bother her though. "This damn shooter," she grumbled to no one in particular. After a large calming sigh, she regained her position and stance, prepared to battle with the rest of her group.

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Hearing Jemi's concern at the Goblin Sharpshooter, Ash turned to make this creature his next target. "Forget shuriken, i'm a rogue! I've got this." Ash grinned and as he took a step forwards he vanished. A few seconds later he appeared in front of the Goblin and before it could react, he thrust his dagger deep into the creature's side, twisting it. The creature wailed as he yanked it back out again and withdrew, "That was far more effective." He smirked, twirling the blade. The Goblin fumbled for his bow, badly wounded.

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-Serafinn attacked the Goblin Warrior.-

The Blackblade skulked towards the group, finally being able to reach his preferred target; the Warlord. He quickly struck through the Warlord’s defenses, but was unable to deal any significant damage.

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