Just as Thomas was examining the captain, the captain was examining Thomas in return. The captain smiled in what was supposed to be a demure fashion, instead, it sent a violent shiver down Thomas's spine that made his backside pucker up instinctively. The captain laughed lightly, and without the door to interfere Thomas could now hear the slightest hint of baritone beneath the captain's voice. After the captain finished laugh he... she? Spoke, "Welcome aboard Thomas~! It's nice to have such a dashing gentleman grace my ship with his presence. I'm sure Zev informed you of the price for one of our cabins. Or perhaps you would like to stay in mine~?"
Thomas felt a very important part of his anatomy shrivel up and attempt to vanish. Thomas firmly believed that a person's sexual preferences and life choices were firmly their own and no one had the right to question it. That didn't mean he was comfortable being eyed like a slab of meat though! Thomas quickly produced fifty gold coins from within his storage ring and held them out with a smile, "I wouldn't want to impose, I'll just accept a cabin for myself."
The captain pouted in disappointment, but accepted the coins without complaint and turned to Zev, "Show our guest to his cabin. We'll weigh anchor in a couple of hours."
Zev nodded and led Thomas out of the captain's cabin and to the port side of the ship. After opening a door Zev gestured into the room, "This will be your cabin for the journey."
Thomas peeked in and saw that it was rather tiny. It had a single sized bed with barely enough floor space for his feet. Thomas looked at Zev and said, "I'll just be staying in my cabin for the trip. You said it will take about a day and a half right?"
Zev nodded, "That's all it should take, two days at most if the wind is against us."
Thomas stepped into his room, "Alright. I'll just be in here then."
Zev turned and walked away while Thomas closed his door. The room was so small it almost felt claustrophobic to him, even though he actually liked small spaces for the most part. Thomas moved over to the bed and lay down on it. It was a thin straw-stuffed mattress on a flat plank of wood, not very comfortable at all. Thomas didn't care, he intended to just log out for a few hours and take care of himself in the real world for a while. It would make the trip less tedious and annoying while keeping him from having to suffer on the bed.
Thomas didn't log out right away though, instead, he waited for the ship to get underway. He didn't want to be logged out if something happened and the ship couldn't set sail for the capital. As he waited he snacked on one of the things he'd bought from a street vendor. It was unknown meat covered in an unknown sauce. All he knew is that it smelled great and had a somewhat spicy taste to it while the meat was somewhat chewy and tender at the same time. Thomas enjoyed his snack while it lasted then spent the next hour going over his gear until the ship set sail.
He really wanted to get into researching the gun he'd received from Hekrin, but judging from how Hekrin had spoken, he wouldn't be able to do much with it until he learned magic and had his final lesson with Hekrin. He felt like Hekrin might have given him the weapon too soon, unless it was meant to inspire and encourage him to learn more? Thomas had no idea what the old dwarf was thinking.
Thomas heard a lot of commotion on the deck of the ship and shortly after that he felt the ship moving. He waited a little longer to make sure the ship would continue moving, then quickly logged out. A day in a half in the game would be just nine hours in reality. He didn't intend to stay out that long, but who knew?
Darren stretched and stepped out of his opened pod. His first mission? A piping hot shower. After his shower, he slipped into some comfortable clothing and stepped into his kitchen to cook himself a warm meal. He wasn't as great at cooking in reality as he was in games. Sadly reality didn't have attributes, skills, or things like dragon meat to cook with. Still, he wasn't a terrible chef and he enjoyed his meal.
After his food was finished, he made his way to his computer terminal. He wanted to digest his food a little bit before heading to the gym to get a good workout. The first thing he did was pull up his contacts list and send out a mass message to some of his closest friends to let them know where he was inside of AoG and what he was up to. He was hoping to find someone he knew was close to him so they could hook up and adventure together. Games were always so much more fun with competent friends.
After sending out the message, he logged into the forums for AoG and started to browse through them. He wasn't looking for anything special, but instead for anything interesting. Though, after a moment, he changed his mind and searched the forum for anything related to Magitech Engineering. To his surprise, he found several topics on it and they all had something in common, complaints. Almost every single topic was a complaint on how annoying it was to try and do the quest line to unlock the profession. Several people had failed the quest because of the time constraints for each supporting profession and once they failed they couldn't attempt it again with the same trainer.
There was the usual back and forth with the occasional 'noob' thrown in as an insult to other commenters. Though Darren did discover that he was not the only player to unlock Magitech Engineering inside of AoG, but from what he could see he should be the first. Many had only unlocked it within the last few game-days while he'd had it for a solid game-week. He browsed around the topics related to Magitech but no one mentioned gaining inheritances from their trainers when they managed to succeed. He also noted that all the ones who had succeeded said it was difficult and took them a lot of time to complete.
With inheritances in mind, Darren did a general search on them and found many different topics. There were nearly as many different inheritances as there were topics for them. The inheritances including things like sword fighting styles, movement techniques, crafting techniques, and magic techniques. Just about any aspect within AoG had some sort of inheritance related to it that some player had unlocked.
After going through some of the threads he discovered one interesting tidbit. Players could only ever have a single inheritance and it could be lost if they failed their master. He also discovered that after losing the inheritance another one could not be gained. There were several players who were complaining about that. One, in particular, was raging against Karonite because he had gained a powerful weapon inheritance, but when he broke his word to the NPC and used it to kill an innocent he'd instantly lost it. His major complaint was that there were no witnesses to his crime so the master he learned it from should not have known. Karonite had not replied to him and the rest of the forums were not kind to him at all.
After that, Darren decided to do a search for each of his innate abilities to see if anyone else with them had learned anything about them. His efforts did not bear fruit. All Seeing Eyes showed no results at all when he searched for it. Transmutation had a couple of threads but none were helpful, they were mostly complaints about how difficult it was to learn and how mana intensive it was. His last innate ability, Quick Learner, also showed no results on the forum. Which he thought was weird since it was a low-grade ability. He thought low-grade abilities would be far more common.
With his curiosity sated on some subjects and piqued on others, Darren got out of his chair and stretched. It was time to hit the gym and get some exercise. He changed into some clothing appropriate for heading to the gym and left his home. He worked out for a good hour before returning to take another shower. He'd only been logged out for about five hours now, so he looked around to try and find a way to waste some time. As he looked around he realized just how little of a life he had outside of gaming. Maybe he needed to find a girlfriend?
Darren yawned and decided to take a short power nap. He went into his bedroom and crawled into his excessively comfortable bed after setting an alarm for three hours later. One more hour would be a full day in the game that he had been logged out, two more on top of that would be an additional eight hours in the game. It was practically time travel!
Thomas opened his crystal blue eyes and sat up on the uncomfortable bed. He stretched and observed his surroundings. Nothing had changed in his room and after a moment he could feel that the ship was still moving. They hadn't arrived quite yet it seemed. He climbed out of the hard bed and left his tiny cabin to roam about the deck of the ship and get some fresh air.
He moved over to the railing on the port side of the ship and looked out over the water. It was a truly beautiful sight to see such a large expanse of bright blue water stretching to the horizon. The air, unfortunately, didn't have that wonderful salty scent that he associated with the ocean. The lake was a body of fresh water. Looking down into the water he could see schools of fish swimming along with the ship.
After enjoying the view for a while longer he looked towards the bow of the ship and could see they were coming up on the shore, it would take maybe another hour or so for them to get close enough to lower the skiff and row to the pier. The sailors were all scrambling around the ship to do their work and get the ship ready for its stop at the capital. Thomas stayed off to the side and out of the way. If he wasn't going to help them he could at least be nice enough to stay out of their way while they worked.
It was nearly two hours later when the ship dropped anchor near the harbor of Reykhoten City. The captain was on deck and bellowing out orders in a deep baritone voice that was extremely masculine while wearing what could only be classified as a 'slinky' dress. The sight was so dysfunctional that it was giving Thomas a headache. Thomas really, truly, honest to god, had no issue with people being who they were born to be. But did the captain have to keep looking in his direction and sending him 'seductive' winks before bellowing at the sailors in his deep voice? Did he?!
Thomas had no one but himself to blame really. He knew he was just too good looking and too attractive. That totally had to be the reason, right? It totally couldn't be that the captain found his attempts to not react cute and endearing. That had nothing to do with it at all right?! All Thomas really knew for sure was that he was glad he had logged out for the majority of the journey and didn't have to endure too much of the captain's attention.
With the anchor dropped the captain continued to holler out orders to get the skiffs lowered and to start loading cargo onto them. After the orders were issued, the captain approached Thomas with a coy smile and spoke once again in his.. her? feminine voice, "Such a shame that you're departing so soon. You even slept through the whole journey and couldn't join me for dinner!"
The captain pouted, and for a brief moment, Thomas found the pouting captain to be kind of cute. Thomas smiled awkwardly and replied, "Don't worry. I'll keep an eye out for 'The Wren' when I'm looking to return to Ulvstad in the future."
The captain beamed a bright smile at Thomas, "See that you do young man! When you do, I insist you have at least one dinner with me!"
Thomas laughed and agreed before making his way to a skiff loaded with men from the ship that would help unload containers at the pier. He was looking forward to entering and exploring a brand new city and his upcoming academy life. It had been well over a decade since he went to school in reality and well over five more decades of game-time if that was included. He hoped it would be a wonderful and nostalgic experience.