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James did his best to capture a glimpse of the hooded creatures face as he and his party sat down. Despite his covert actions, the creature caught on to James and shifted its head in such a way that its face remained hidden.

How did he even see me trying to look at him through the hood, James thought.

“How do you know my class?” James hazarded as he settled into a seat at the creature's table.

The creature waved a gloved hand through the air nonchalantly, “I can sense these things…”

James leaned closer to the creature to ask more questions, but was interrupted by Omero, “My name is Omero,” the Italian man said before pointing an open palm to each remaining member of the party in turn,”this is James, Patrick, and Alex.”

The creature nodded his hood, “Pleasure to meet you all. My name is Abaddon. Now... may I ask why you are all here… at my table.”

Omero smiled, “We have just returned from a long mission to defend the Outpo-”

“No, you haven’t," Abaddon interrupted.

Omero scrunched his eyebrows and nodded. He looked at James, who just motioned for him to continue. It was clear to James that his own method of communicating with the creature wasn’t working well, or Omero never would have interrupted him in the first place, so James was content with letting Omero lead the conversation.

“Okay, you are right. I apologize, it is just that people aren’t too friendly around here, so we came up with a story as to not attract any unwanted attention," Omero said truthfully.

Abaddon nodded his hood again, “That was very smart of you. There are indeed many dangers here, but I am probably not one of them.”

“Then why do you wear a dangerous looking robe?”

Abaddon chuckled, a sound that made James think of rubbing two half decomposed bones together. The sound was rough, yet eerily wet at the same time. “The robe is my own false story if you will.”

Omero contemplated the creature's words before looking at his party members and leaning into the hodded figure, “Look, Abaddon, I can see that you are trustworthy. We need answers to a lot of questions. We have an entire list of them actually. On the top of that list, we need to know where we can find a Mystic.”

Abaddon leaned back in his chair, “Yes, Inveigler, you can trust me. And I know where you can find a Mystic, in fact, I can take you to him, but you must do something for me first.”

Can Omero’s class really tell him if someone is trustworthy? James thought as he watched his companion and the robed figure interact. If Abaddon has the power to see our classes wouldn’t he also have the power to manipulate an Inveigler?

Save the Imprisoned Quest Accepted

Description = The human settlement of The Outpost has long been isolated from the rest of the world. Stuck between defending one side of their city from the Oana and the other from the Hedgemons, the villagers in the Outpost have been trapped in a perpetual war and unable to evolve as a species. The city still routinely forbids magic, and even publically imprisons people that show physical signs of advanced magic use. A mysterious figure who goes by the name Abaddon, has tasked you with freeing his companion, who is one of those imprisoned. Locate Abaddon’s companion, free her from her cage, and return her to Abaddon.

Quest Type = Escape
Quest Difficulty = Rare
Quest Reward = Abaddon will introduce you to a Mystic

James read the prompt that managed to cover his vision and interrupt his skepticism over the robed creature's intentions.

Apparently, Omero can accept quests on the parties behalf, James thought with frustration.

“Wait a second,” James said before re-reading the quest description and turning to Alex, “Hedgemons, does that name ring a bell for you?”

Alex looked surprised for a second, then caughtiously nodded.

James suddenly dismissed himself as politely and quickly as possible before running up to the bar and requesting a room from Gill. James happily handed the barkeep two gold coins and motioned for his party to follow him.

***

The second-floor room was quite small, but James figured that it would be nice to sleep somewhere with walls for once, even if his party was all crammed together.

“What was that all about?” Omero interrogated James as soon as he entered the room.

James pulled out some Ingo skins to sit on and motioned for his party to do the same. Patrick pulled out his own skins and took a seat with a long sigh. Omero and Alex opted to sit on the edge of the bed.

“Sorry, that guy creeped me out,” James said with a shiver.

Omero shook his head in frustration, “He was trustworthy. My interface told me so. Sure he was a little disconcerting to look at, but I wasn’t going to tell him anything that I didn’t need to. Isn’t that what I am here for, because of my judgment in these situations and my class?”

James was taken aback a felt a little guilty, “Yes, I am well aware of what you bring to the table Omero, and I wasn’t trying to ruin that. It was just that you already succeeded and you didn’t even know it. That is why I intervened.”

“What?” Omero snarled.

“When Abaddon offered us a quest I got a ton of information due to my Adventurer’s Interface. It told me that the people of The Outpost are trapped here, stuck between war with the Oana,” James paused, glancing at Alex, “and the Hedgemons. Alex, isn’t that the name of the creatures you wrote lore about when you worked on the game?”

Alex gave a relieved nod, “Ahhh, that is what you were talking about. Yea, that is their name. So you think the zone I worked on is just on the other side of The Outpost?”

“Yes! I think that long ago humans lead an expedition through the Hedgemon's land and ended up getting stuck, with the Hedgemons to their backs and the Oana at their front. Since they couldn’t travel any further, they built walls and sort of settled down," James said excitedly.

Patrick coughed from deep within his fur pile, “What does that have to do with saving the people in the Lich’s dungeon though?”

James shrugged, “I don’t really know… but we finally have some information about the land beyond the Great Savanna! Also, my quest description said that humans used to imprison people that showed signs of advanced magic use, and that this village still follows that practice. One, that gives us the reason of why the people are in cages outside. Two,” James paused from dramatic effect, “I think that tells us that if you get really strong with magic, it changes your body.”

“Like the girl outside with green hands…” Patrick added glumly.

“Like your immunity-to-temperature thing…” Alex said.


***


“Thanks man,” James said to Omero as he walked through the heavy wooden door that the Italian was holding open for him.

Past the door, a room opened up full of shelves and cabinets. Inside those shelves and cabinets, James could see a plethora of softly glowing items. He knew he probably didn’t have enough gold to buy anything so he tried not to get too excited from all the merchant’s wares, but he couldn’t help it. His eyes greedily darted from shelves of potions, glowing armor racks, to unfamiliar weapons displayed on the walls and back.

“Greetings! How can I help you?” a squat gentleman said from behind a counter. The merchant was wearing a green robe. The robe was cinched at his waist with a scaled belt in such a way that his bulging stomach seemed to be split in two.

“Greetings!” Omero replied with a polite nod of his head, “we are just browsing.”

“Do you have any mounts?” Patrick said, bursting into the conversation.

The merchants face twisted, “Uh no, sorry. I carry an assortment of items, but mounts are not one of them. They would take up too much space, and I am already short on that!” The merchant said with a pat on his large stomach and a smile.

“How much is this then?” Patrick asked as he held up a horned helmet with an incredibly small eye slit. James couldn’t help but wonder how anyone would be able to see with the helmet on. The helm glowed a soft purple in the dimly lit shop, and despite the almost guaranteed impaired vision, James found himself wanting the helm as well.

“Ah, the Impenetrable Helm, an extraordinary piece of armor that is… I can give that to you for 550 gold. And that is with my soldier discount. Gotta do my part to make sure the Outpost is defended!” the bulbous merchant answered proudly.

Patrick retorted by laying the helmet back down on the counter. James didn’t know if it was a bartering tactic, or just because there was no way the red-head would be able to afford the item, but he couldn't help but laugh at the interaction. Patrick started pointing to items of his gear and asking how much the merchant would buy each piece for. James listened in for a bit, only to get a better feel of the buying power the golden currency held. Once he got a general idea of the value of his own gear, James placed his hands on a wall and opened up his senses to the building.

Congratulations! You have learned a new human building plan!

General Store - A required building for creating trade routes. Gold stored within this building cannot be stolen. Merchants stationed within this general store receive a +5 bonus to bartering.

Thank you for your secrets, James thought as he brought his hands together and gave the building a respectful bow. As James turned around he caught the confused and slightly worried stares of his party and the merchant. James winked at them, waved goodbye to the merchant, and exited through the heavy wooden door.

Omero lead the party to another building, all the while trying to avoid people that especially disliked them for some reason. There were numerous times when the party had to avoid certain streets because of what Omero saw with his Inveigler class. The number of people that outright hated the party for no particular reason was numerous, making it difficult for the party to reach the alchemist’s lab. Finally, the party managed to navigate the side streets of The Outpost and reached the lab through a tight alley between cobblestone buildings.

The lab didn’t have a heavy wooden door protecting it from the seemingly mass of hate-filled villagers and soldiers that roamed the streets of The Outpost. Instead, a number of vines grew from somewhere on top of the building and hid the entrance into the lab. Luckily, Patrick discovered the entrance into the building, only after mistaking a portion of vines and checking for an entryway with his head.

“Did that even hurt?” Omero curiously asked the red-head as they both parted the vines in the correct location and stepped into the building.

Patrick shook his head, “No, I think my armor is like really high. I barely feel anything but the harshest of impacts nowadays.”

Alex decided to test Patrick’s words with his fists and was left hoping up and down as he clutched his hand in pain. Patrick seemed oblivious to the unarmed strike he just received.

“NO HORSEPLAY!” a voice screeched from somewhere within the alchemist’s lab, “This is a lab, the tavern is a few roads south! Please leave!”

James had trouble locating the voice. The lab was much darker than the merchant’s shop but had sections of bright light that beamed down from holes in the ceiling, illuminating various potted plants and making it difficult for James’s eyes to adapt.

“Sorry, mam. We will behave,” Omero said, attempting to distract the Alchemist so James could learn the lab’s building plan.

Congratulations! You have learned a new human building plan!

Alchemist’s Lab - A required building for the production of advanced level and above Alchemists. Potions, salves, and tinctures created within this lab benefit from a +15% in effectiveness and +20% in production speed.

“No, out! All of you!” A witch of a woman screamed as she stumbled into view, waving an overly large pestle above her head.

James watched in shock as the woman did her best to close the distance between herself and his party, without knocking over any of the numerous and fragile looking apparatuses that littered the inside of the lab. James turned to his party members just in time to see Omero’s back disappear from the lab. All at once, the party realized that if Omero was running away from someone, they should be too.

Patrick was the last one to scramble out of the Alchemist lab. He plowed through the vines, managed to get himself tangled up, and held a hand out to his party for help. Patrick’s eyes filled with a terror that was proportionate to the closeness of the enraged alchemist’s voice. Before James could untangle the giant red-head though, the Alchemist caught up to them and bashed Patrick over the head with her solid stone pestle. The tool snapped, and half of it fell to the ground with a heavy thud just as James was able to get his companion free.

“Run!” James yelled. His party happily obeyed the command.

The Alchemist screamed at the party’s backs as they barreled through the streets of The Outpost. Omero turned into an alley, far away from the club-wielding witch. As soon as they were out of immediate danger, the party dissolved into fits of laughter.

“Dude!” Alex said in between heavy breaths, “She wailed you with that thing! Are you alright?”

Patrick shrugged, “Like I said, my armor is really high.”

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About the author

BigMartyrs

Bio: Writer of disparate LitRPG stories.

Current works = Legends of the Great Savanna (published) , Milton (Ongoing)

Stay in touch at JLLincoln.com

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