Darren pushed the button to open his capsule and sat up to stretch his body with a groan. He was really enjoying his time in AoG, even if it's not quite what he expected to be doing. Darren climbed out of the gaming pod and made his way through his one bedroom house toward the very first thing he needed to do. Though the dirt and grime from within AoG had no bearing on reality, in his mind Darren still felt dirty. That was one of the drawbacks to playing games that pulled your mind into them, even if it wasn't actually real it felt very real and could leave that feeling in your mind.

After his nice long hot shower, Darren made his way to his kitchen to cook himself a warm meal. He'd eaten well in AoG, but again it had no bearing on his real-world body that was just subsisting on the nutrients which were not filling in the least. He cooked himself a nice large meal and while eating it he couldn't help but think about the meal he'd had at Zan's in the game. Sure the meals in AoG were really only electrical signals stimulating his brain, but who cared?

Darren sat at his computer terminal after his meal and logged into Karonite's website to order some replacement modules to keep his pod running. Well, technically the pod didn't need the modules, he could always log out more often and take care of himself in the real world, but where was the fun in that? Darren ordered three weeks worth of replacements so he wouldn't have to think about it again for a while.

Once that was done, Darren actually left his house and headed to a local gym to spend an hour working out. Having such a phenomenal body inside of AoG was making him desire to have something at least somewhat similar in reality. He might have gone a little overboard, but he felt good and a bit proud of himself. Now if only he could commit to it.

Darren took some time to relax before making himself lunch and logging back into AoG after eating it. He'd spent a good four hours logged out which translated to sixteen hours within the game. Darren lay down in his pod and closed the lid to log back into AoG to spend what was left of the day making some progress for himself. 

Thomas woke up inside of his room within The Swans Nest and it was around noon within the game. Thomas sat up and stretched his body. He looked around his room before climbing out of his bed and getting dressed for the day. He intended to take the rest of the day off and visit Hekrin later in the afternoon to get the next quest he needed to complete. Hopefully, he didn't have very many left to go.

Thomas left The Swans Nest and made his way around the city just to explore once more. As he was walking Thomas spotted a barber shop. Thomas ran his fingers through his disheveled black hair and smiled. He hadn't changed his avatars hair from his real-world hair and felt like he could do with a nice change. Thomas stepped into the barber shop and was greeted by a man that could only be described as a consummate butler.

The man had silver hair combed back and a goatee of the same color. He wore an excellently tailored suit and looked rather serious, even with a warm smile on his face. The butler looking man greeted Thomas, "Welcome to Gregg's. I am Gregg and will be your stylist, if you so desire."

Thomas smiled at Gregg and toyed with his scruffy hair, "Nice to meet you Gregg, I'm Thomas and I felt like I could use a nice haircut."

Gregg's eyes widen a bit, "Oh-ho, so you are Sir Thomas. It's a pleasure to meet you. I've heard nothing but good things."

Thomas blinked in surprise. He'd kind of expected that the artisans would have heard of him but not a random barber shop he happened to step into. Thomas smiled at Gregg, "It's nice to meet you as well Gregg."

Gregg gave a small bow from his waist and gestured to a chair, "Please have a seat Sir Thomas and we'll get started right away."

Thomas made his way over and sat in the chair. Gregg draped a cloth over him to catch the hair that would be cut off and immediately got to work. Surprised Thomas asked, "You're not going to ask me what I want?"

Gregg chuckled softly, "Pardon me Sir Thomas, but a butler always knows what would make his Master look best. Fear not, I guarantee you will be happy with the final product."

Gregg went to work by combing Thomas's hair. As Gregg worked the comb through his hair, Thomas felt a weird tingling sensation on his scalp. Thomas decided to go with it, in the worst case scenario he would just shave his head. He actually liked having a shaved head and it worked extremely well when he was blacksmithing. Not only would it make it less likely for him to set his head on fire, but he also wouldn't have to deal with the horrendous scent of burnt hair.

Thomas closed his eyes and relaxed to let Gregg do his thing with his hair. It took Gregg just over half an hour to do his work, which Thomas found rather surprising since his hair hadn't been that long to begin with. Once he was finished Gregg spoke, "I am done Sir Thomas."

Thomas opened his eyes and looked at himself in the mirror in front of him. Thomas was instantly convinced that Gregg had used magic of some sort on him. With just a comb and scissors Gregg had somehow made his hair longer, thicker and more glossy. His hair had become darker and seemed to reflect a blue tint. Even more interestingly his hair had become longer and perfectly straight to hang down to his shoulders.

His new longer hair cut fit with his angular face so well that Thomas felt like his entire avatar had a makeover. He looked... noble. Thomas couldn't stop himself from grinning broadly. He'd done his best to make himself look handsome but Gregg had taken it to another level. If he could have been called attractive before, he could now be called a true lady killer. Gregg smiled as he watched Thomas examining himself, "How is it, Sir Thomas?"

Thomas ran his fingers through his silky smooth hair and laughed lightly, "It's amazing. You were right Gregg, I am extremely satisfied with your work."

Gregg gave a bow from his waist, "It was my honor, Sir Thomas."

Gregg removed the cloth draped over Thomas and set it to the side. Turning to face Thomas, Gregg gave another bow, "You will have to pardon me Sir Thomas, but the service I provided today will cost you twenty-five gold."

Thomas laughed lightly and retrieved 25 gold from his storage ring to pass over to Gregg, "No need to worry Gregg. This has been an amazing experience and I am glad I wandered in here."

Gregg politely accepted the money which promptly vanished somewhere in an inconspicuous manner. Gregg bowed once more as Thomas left the barbershop. For his part, Thomas decided he would have to find and hire a man like Gregg in the future when he had a manor to live inside of. A good butler could make life amazing. 

Thomas wandered around aimlessly for a few more hours before finally making his way to Hekrin's place. Thomas was surprised to see the same woman in the shop once more. The one he'd seen the other day. As he stepped inside he heard her shouting at Hekrin, "You have to come back!"

For his part, Hekrin just acted like himself. He huffed at the woman and said plainly, "Not happenin'. Now get outa here and don't be comin' back. I made up me mind years ago an' I ain't changin' it anytime soon!"

After dismissing the woman Hekrin turned to glare at Thomas with his dark beady eyes, "An' what the hell you be doin' back here again kid?"

The woman who had been yelling at Hekrin turned and glared at Thomas. Apparently, since she couldn't get Hekrin to do what she wanted her anger had found a new target. Despite her anger, Thomas couldn't help but note that she looked even more beautiful with her face flushed a light pink. Thomas gave her his best smile. He still knew nothing about her, and it might be a bit shallow, but he wanted to get to know her a bit more if he could. It just seemed like he never had the chance to, especially not if she was angry today. He didn't want to have her associating him with anger.

Thomas gave both of them a polite smile, but addressed Hekrin, "I've finished with training at Ricktor's so I've come to see what you want me to learn next."

Hekrin gave a start and then frowned deeply, "There be no way in hell ya be done gettin' yur Alchemy all tha way up to rank twenty-five in jus' three days! Don't be wastin' muh time with yur lies!"

Thomas shrugged his shoulders and walked over to the sales counter to offer his hands to Hekrin, "Take a look if you don't believe me. Ah. I should mention I actually did it in two days, I took today to explore the city."

Hekrin glared at Thomas even more fiercely while the woman arched a delicate eyebrow at Thomas's claim. She had been in the store when Hekrin had told Thomas to learn Alchemy and now he was back just a few days later claiming he'd gotten it to rank twenty-five in just two days?

Hekrin grabbed Thomas's wrists roughly and continued to glare, "If ya be lyin' ta me kid I won't be teachin' ya nothin'. Jus' like I said last time."

Thomas shrugged his shoulders and continued to smile at Hekrin, clearly not the least bit worried since he knew he'd passed the quest with flying colors. Hekrin huffed and looked at Thomas's hands. Thomas still didn't know how Hekrin did it, but he knew that looking at his hands somehow let Hekrin know if he'd succeeded or not. After looking for a few moments Hekrin released Thomas's wrists and let out a deep sigh, "Gods dammit. How'n tha hell did ya get yur Alchemy up ta rank thirty in jus' two days?!"

The woman's eyes widened slightly in surprise as she looked over Thomas once more to reevaluate him. Anyone who could increase a profession from nothing to rank thirty in just two days could be considered an absolute genius. Especially when it's a profession as complicated as Alchemy. Her opinion might drop a bit if she knew Thomas had cheated a little bit.

Hekrin huffed, "Fine. Ya did it. Good fer you kid."

System Notice: Quest Complete!
Hekrin Graveljaw has tasked you with becoming a rank 25 Alchemist. You may train at Ricktor's Potions.
Rewards: 2,000 experience, Reputation with Hekrin increases... for sure this time.
Failure: Hekrin Graveljaw will refuse to teach you Magitech Engineering.
Time Limit: 1 Week
System Notice: You have gained 2,000 experience.

Hekrin sighed and shook his head before speaking, "Get yur ass out of here an' don't ya come back unless yur a rank twenty-five enchanter!"

System Notice: New Quest, Linked Quest, Final Quest!
Hekrin Graveljaw has tasked you with becoming a rank 25 enchanter. You may train at Emmerick's Enchantments.
Rewards: ???
Failure: Hekrin Graveljaw will refuse to teach you Magitech Engineering.
Time Limit: 1 Week

Seeing where he was being sent to work, Thomas couldn't help but smile and shake his head. This was going to be interesting and Thomas had to admit that he was truly curious about how enchantment would work in AoG. Thomas nodded to Hekrin and the woman before making his way to the door. It was time to begin the final quest to become a Magitech Engineer!

A note from thomasdarkrose


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About the author


  • Georgia, USA

Bio: Just your average self-employed American with some spare time that enjoys reading, and now writing.

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