Thomas dreamt. Dreaming was nothing new, after all, he'd been doing it all his life. Even in a VR game dreaming was a necessity for a healthy mind. He would rarely remember the content of his dreams, usually only recalling a vague feeling. Tonight's dream was something different.
Thomas found himself standing inside of a cave with his mind fully conscious. Something like a lucid dream. He knew he was in the cave and at the same time knew he was sound asleep in his tent with Snowlilly snuggled up against him. The cave was filled with stalactites and stalagmites while the sound of dripping water was clearly audible. The only thing that seemed out of place was the lighting. He could see rather well but there was no sign of a light source anywhere. No sunlight, torchlight, candlelight, or magical light could be seen.
It didn't take long for Thomas to realize that this had something to do with the game and wasn't just a simple product of his subconscious mind. With nothing else to do while his body slept, he started to move around to explore this strange place. He hoped he might stumble upon something interesting or unique that he could use to his advantage. As he walked he saw nothing but stone and not even a hint of anything special. He sighed in disappointment and started to feel like he was wasting his time.
"Alone at last."
The sound of the voice speaking those words sent a shiver down Thomas's spine. The strange voice didn't sound like a single male or female voice talking. It was an amalgamation of thousands of voices from males and females with ages ranging from children to grandparents on their deathbeds. A crowd of voices all softly speaking together at once.
Thomas shook off his discomfort and addressed the voice, "And you are?"
The strange voice let out a humorless laugh before addressing Thomas, "Such an impatient Nephilim."
Hearing the word 'Nephilim' from the voice and putting it together with the first statement made, Thomas came to a simple conclusion. The voice had been waiting quite a while to speak to him. It had been weeks since his race had changed and in the entire time since the incident, he'd never really been alone. Not like he was now. Since his change, he'd stayed either inside of crowded cities or on a crowded ship. Tonight was the first night he'd slept out in the wild away from civilization. To Thomas, this meant that the voice either couldn't, or wouldn't, speak to him when there were too many people around.
He looked around for a bit to see if he could spot the being speaking to him. With nothing in sight he addressed the darkness in the cave, "Can we just cut to the chase here? I'd really like to get some actual sleep."
Time meant nothing when asleep but that didn't mean he would enjoy wasting it. It might be a snap judgment on his part but given the creepy cave and even creepier voice, Thomas believed that the voice was a 'bad guy' of some sort. Not that it bothered him in the least to 'consort with darkness' or what have you. He'd happily worked for plenty of 'evil' players and NPC's over the years. All that mattered was that he had fun and got to make something interesting.
The voice seemed to be caught off-guard by Thomas blunt and nonchalant attitude. It took a few moments for the voice to speak again, "Such courage, or is it arrogance?"
In the experiences of the voice, most people would be scared and trembling when it spoke to them. Yet the once human before it almost seemed... bored. The voice dismissed these thoughts, confident that the young Nephilim would succumb to its fear before too long. With a new resolve, it spoke again, "We have waited long to speak with you. We have waited even longer for such a worthy servant."
Hearing the word 'servant', Thomas immediately cut the voice off before it could speak more, "I'm no one's servant. If you want to hire me for a commission that's fine. I don't have a shop or much experience here yet, but I'm confident in my skills. If you don't want to hire me to make equipment for you then I'd like for you to go away and leave me alone. I've no interest in anything else."
Once again the voice was completely flabbergasted. The Nephilim was being completely uncooperative and even suggesting that it would have to pay for services like having equipment made? What the hell was going on here?! The voice had been waiting centuries for a Nephilim to come into existence. Nephilim were the only beings capable of walking in both the light and the dark. Nephilim were indispensable tools of war and could not be allowed to work with the enemy!
Angered the voice shouted, "YOU WILL OBEY ME OR I WILL DESTROY YOU!"
The moment it said those words it knew it had fucked up, badly. Thomas immediately started to laugh like he'd heard the funniest joke in the world. The voice was not ignorant of the changes going on throughout the world. It knew that all the summoned people were immortals that could not be permanently killed. Threatening to kill Thomas was as pointless as a house made of cheese. Even if the immortals had to pay a price for their death it was clearly not a very large price. It had seen reports of the summoned people running headlong into danger without a care in the world. Many had died dozens of times and didn't seem the least bit perturbed by it.
As Thomas finished laughing at the voice he took a few deep breaths to calm down, "Thanks, I needed a good laugh."
Angered again the voice doubled down, "Fine! Maybe I can't destroy you but I can destroy your friends and family!"
The voice was too used to working with the local populace. Everyone but the summoned heroes had a family of some sort and friends they had grown up with. Thomas, and the others like him, were too odd and out of the norm for the voice to really understand how to deal with them. When Thomas heard the new threat from the creepy voice he started to laugh again, even going to far as to slap his thigh.
If the voice could blush, it would have. Ever since it summoned the Nephilim's mind to this place nothing had gone right for it. The Nephilim wasn't the least bit afraid and its standard threats had absolutely no effect on him. The voice honestly had no idea what to do in this situation.
Once he calmed down from his second bout of laughter, Thomas addressed the voice, "You should be a comedian. I haven't laughed like this in quite a while!" He took a deep breath before he continued in a serious tone of voice, "I have no family in this world. As far as friends go, maybe one or two of my friends have been summoned to this world. Even if they have I don't know where they are or what they are doing. Even if you did it wouldn't matter since, like me, they are all immortal too! You have nothing to threaten me with. If that's all you plan to do then please stop wasting both our time and fuck off."
The cave went dead silent for a long while as the voice tried to think of a different approach to dealing with the young Nephilim. Its normal approach was a complete waste of time so it had to actually spend a moment to think of a new approach. Unable to come up with anything concrete the voice asked in a more subdued tone, "What do you want?"
Thomas had been a merchant for a long time and he knew that in any business proposition the worst thing you could do was actually tell the opposing side what you really wanted. That was the quickest was to lose any negotiating power. So instead of a direct reply, Thomas said instead, "If you want me to make stuff for you then show me your sincerity by telling me what you intend to offer me in exchange."
With this, Thomas put the ball in the other party's court. He could get a better understanding of the voice and maybe get a bit more than normal for his services. The voice thought for a moment before becoming confident, "Money! I can offer you more money than you could imagine!"
Thomas immediately scoffed, "Money isn't an issue to me. I can easily earn enough money to do whatever I want."
This wasn't a lie or bluff. In every game he'd played Thomas had ended up as one of, if not the, richest players in the game. Eventually. He was in no rush to make a ton of money. Even if he could buy the best crafting tools and most expensive materials to craft with it wouldn't matter. After all, his skill level was too low to work with them anyway! He had more than enough money for his immediate needs.
The voice was once again at a loss, but not for as long as before. Humans always seemed to desire two things. Money and power! Confident, the voice declared, "I can make you a king!"
Thomas let out a long drawn out sigh before he replied, "You should really get to know your audience a bit before speaking. Right now I'm not sure if you're trying to entice me or piss me off. A king?! Really?! Why the hell would I want all that trouble and work?"
Thomas knew that he was pushing it a bit at this point. Clearly, the voice was getting a bit desperate to be offering him a whole kingdom. If he was going to get the maximum benefits he needed to keep pushing to see if the voice would offer something he would actually want. In reality, his desires were actually not all that hard to figure out. Some knowledge, nice crafting materials, information on his innate abilities. There were actually many things that could be used to tempt him. The voice just didn't know any of that.
After Thomas's refusal the voice went quiet once again. It had become clear to the voice that it did not have a proper bargaining position to interact with Thomas. It had been too hasty and had rushed to speak with the Nephilim and get it on its side. The sheer difference between the Nephilim and the people it was used to dealing with had caught it unprepared and left it with nothing to offer and no position to bargain from. The best it could hope for now was to leave on good terms and come back when it knew more.
As it had this thought it found an opportunity and smiled to itself, "I understand. Next time we speak I will be able to make a better offer. Until then allow me to give you a gift. When I send you out of this place I will wake you up. When you wake up be sure to look around a bit."
Thomas arched an eyebrow and smiled, "Giving up so soon? Ah, well, not like I can blame you. It's hard to have a negotiation while knowing nothing of the other party. Still, the least you could do is answer my very first question. It's just polite manners."
The voice was once again stunned. After a short moment, a long drawn out sigh was heard. With the overlapping voice of thousands, the sigh sounded devastating, "I am Sullminur."
"I'd say it was nice to meet you Sullminur but I don't think you would agree with me."
Sullminur said nothing in reply. Before Thomas could say anything else the world around him faded away completely. An unknown amount of time later he snapped awake inside of his tent still resting inside of his sleeping bag with Snowlily snuggled next to him. Without wasting a moment he activated his 'All Seeing Eyes' and used his night vision. The darkness of night disappeared and became as bright as daytime at noon.
He looked around. It didn't take him long to notice the shadow of a person on the wall of his tent. The moon cast the shadow and if he could not see so well in the dark then Thomas would have found it impossible to see it. Without wasting any time, he slid his hand beneath his pillow and pulled out the Peace Maker. As soon as the mottled black and white handle was in his grip he began to channel mana into it. He had no idea if the individual outside was friend or foe, human or NPC. Whoever or whatever they were, they'd snuck past his warning system and were slinking closer to his tent. It was going to cost them.