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A note from Balr0g

Hey everyone, my cadence is going to be slowing down a bit now. I have crunch time for some classes coming up that I need to divert some of my attention to. Just wanted to give you a heads up so you don't think I abandoned the novel.

Tristen and his friends oozed excitement the following morning in anticipation of leaving Castille to explore. They had met in the Adventurer Hall where Tristen let them know he had preemptively gone through the quest board. There were some gathering quests listed, which he had ignored. Many of them were the same ones he had been told about by various merchants last night.

He also informed his friends about the forum post he had seen last night that spoke of Darren, the dwarf from the training grounds the other day. He told them how he had logged back in the game to find him. Not seeing the guy at the training grounds, Tristen had wandered around town talking to merchants about any possible quests, which was how he knew about the duplication of these quests on the board in front of them. His friends had agreed it was more profitable to take the quests directly from the merchants. That way, they would not have to pay any taxes to the Adventurer Hall. There were some other unique quests on the board that sounded fun to Tristen. He walked over to the quest board and pulled a few pieces of paper from the board. At the same time, a quest prompt appeared in front of each member of the party.

 

Congratulations, you have received the quest Monster Hunting!

Quest Difficulty: Easy

The proprietor of Potions and Tonics is in need of ingredients retrieved only from creatures deep within the Kiyll Woods. Find their lair and remove the needed components from their corpses.

Poison Glands: 0/10

Claws: 0/20

Eyeballs: 0/10

Reward: 5 Potions, 2 Elixirs, 5 gold

Accept? Yes/No

 

Congratulations, you have received the quest Weapon Collector!

Quest Difficulty: Normal

There is a semi-sentient race called Scuttlers that live near the Krihn Cliffs. These creatures have an evil disposition and are known to scavenge discarded weapons and armor. Retrieve weapons and armor for Grimgar’s Blacksmith.

Weapons: 0/25

Armor: 0/25

Reward: Level 5 weapon of choice up to [Good] quality

Accept? Yes/No 

 

Congratulations, you have received a bounty quest: Sparky’s Bandit Camp [Unique]

Quest Difficulty: Hard

Bring the head of Sparky to the Adventurer Hall in Castille. Sparky is a bandit leader that has been terrorizing caravans between Kiyll Woods and Castille. Rumors suggest that his bandit camp resides along the border, just inside the Kiyll Woods. Beware this quest is not for the faint of heart. Sparky is a former guard from the capital city and was court-marshaled after killing his captain during a raid. Many believe that Sparky absconded with a pair of enchanted daggers during the attack. These blades are rumored to give him a unique ability to leech the life force from his enemies.

Head of Sparky: 0/1

Reward: 50 gold, reputation increase with Wood Elves and Humans, letter of recommendation to be presented to guard captain in the nearest capital city.

Bonus: 2 gold for each bandit killed

Accept? Yes/No


Everyone accepted the quests after reading the descriptions. There was some concern about the bounty quest, but Tristen believed the group would be ready after finishing the other quests. It was also a unique quest, and he did not want to pass up the opportunity it afforded. The quest would be a challenge, but if they finished the other two quests first, they would likely have leveled up and become familiar with the combat system already. It would be risky this early in the game, but the reward outweighed a potential death. The difficulty level was likely the reason the quest had remained.

Tristen and his friends had spent enough time preparing and addressing their weaknesses they all agreed to give it a shot. If they failed, it would only set them back a few days while they re-rolled their characters. Tristen wondered what the letter of recommendation provided to the party. He had no idea what to expect in the capital city, and this message held a potential edge over other player groups.

Tristen would grab the merchant quests on his way out of town. Each of the merchants that had gathering quests perpetually had a note hanging just inside the door that granted the quest. Grimgar had a quest to collect ore, the tailor had quests to collect tattered garments from any mobs, and the quest for Tonics and Potions required the collection of various herbs. They wouldn’t go out of their way to complete the gathering quests, but Tristen suspected they could finish them along the way.

“What about this one?”, Tyler said as he pulled a parchment from the quest board.

Congratulations, you have received the quest Rumors of Gold

Quest Difficulty: Hard

Note: Upon acceptance of this quest, you will receive a hidden treasure map.

Travelers often sell suspected treasure maps to the guild which the guild dispatches to Adventurer Halls within the region. Due to the number of maps in circulation, the Adventurer Guild is unable to explore themselves and therefore provide them for adventurers through the quest board. Each map is unique, and rewards are variable. If the adventure yields no hidden treasure, the guild will pay five gold to adventurers for exploring the map and verifying its accuracy. If the map leads to buried treasure, Adventurers will keep any items, but share 10% of any coin found with the guild.

Accept? Yes/No

Tyler suggested they take the quest on account of his high luck stat. Tristen looked a bit skeptical about relying on the luck stat but decided to accept. After Tristen received the quest, he suggested they grab the merchant quests on their way out of town. Finally, time to venture out into the world, Tristen and his friends walked through the gate. Before Tristen even had a chance to see the landscape, a notification window obscured his view.

Attention Adventurer!

You are leaving the safety of the town and are open to attack from NPCs or creatures of this world. 

You are entering a PvP-free zone. 

Beware that any death outside safe zones or within dungeons will result in character destruction…


The notification droned on, but Tristen already had received the same spiel from Sai before he had left the training room. He paused after he closed the notification window and his jaw dropped as he looked out at the vista before him. The level of detail left him in awe! They had exited through the east gate facing the Kiyll Woods. Looking to the north, he observed the Qrax Mountains looming in the distance.

Snow-capped peaks gave way to rocky outcroppings and what looked like carved structures built straight out of the mountain. The mountains extended incredibly high, and swirling clouds and snow billowed off the peaks. Tristen spied figures moving around at the base of the mountain, but it was much too far to make out any details.

To the south, jutted the Krihn Cliffs. The water beyond the cliffs extended as far as the eye could see. The only structures that marred the incredible view were stone spires that jutted from the water with small cities perched on top. To get to the cities, a series of latticework bridges crisscrossed the expanses between the mainland and the islands. This must be home to the high elves, thought Tristen. They had a superb defensive position and could destroy the bridges in the event of an attack. High elves were also known as advanced magic users and could likely attack any enemies from across the divide. These islands afforded incredible security to its occupants.

Tristen looked forward to where the Kiyll Woods lay. From his current vantage, it looked like the forest sat on rolling hills and at some point, the tress dropped from his view. It looked like a lush, green blanket that flowed with the contour of the hills leading up to the Orax Mountains on one side. There was such uniformity in the cloak of trees, and he imagined it was easy to become lost in the woods. He didn’t see a single break in the trees that allowed a glimpse inside. Although he could see birds floating above the canopy, anything that descended past the dense green canopy disappeared.

Natalia explained that the wood elves lived in harmony with the trees and rather than building homes with dead trees, the Nature magic users in the settlement coaxed the trees to grow homes and buildings. Some of the wood elves lived on the ground where the tree roots formed huts and dwellings, but entire settlements were also built into the trees and strung together with thick tree branches that formed walkways. This forest was quite a bit younger than others where wood elves lived. As a result, most of the homes in the Kiyll Woods resided on the ground.

The road Tristen stood on descended into the Kiyll Woods, with only a few small paths that branched in different directions. Just before entering the woods, the trail forked, with one route headed toward the Kylanoris, the town where Natalia had started. The other path forked into a different part of the woods.

Reigning his thoughts in, Tristen checked to see where the quests showed up on his map. One of the paths that forked into the woods led straight into the waiting arms of Sparky and his goons. He wasn’t sure which path led to Kylanoris and wondered if it was possible for Natalia to share her explored map with him. Everyone opened their map looking for a way to share. Tristen's looked identical to the last time Tristen he had opened it. No intuitive way to share appeared, so Tristen took a gamble and forcefully thought about sharing his map with his friends.

“Hey, it worked!” Tyler and Natalia exclaimed at the same time.

“What did you do?” asked Aaron.

“I didn’t see a button, but as soon as I thought about sharing with you, it worked.”

No sooner had Tristen explained how to share, when he received prompts from his friends.

Natalia wishes to share her map with you.

Accept? Yes/No

 

Tyler wishes to share his map with you.

Accept? Yes/No

 

Aaron wishes to share his map with you.

Accept? Yes/No


The starter locations for his friends appeared from the darkness covering a portion of the map. Interestingly, Tyler’s starting town looked like it resided under the Orax mountains, but all he could see was what appeared to be the entrance to a cave. Tyler explained that the map didn’t show the lower passages until entering the cave.

They started out down the road as Tristen looked for various herbs and flowers required for their gathering quests. Due to their lack of inventory space, Tristen suggested they carry only the needed components. Tristen tried thinking about the items he picked up and looked for some name or description. He suspected there would be some [Inspect] skill or [Herb Lore], but didn’t know if they needed a trainer to be unlocked. Tyler had learned his [Disarm Trap] ability using the same method, so it made sense for them all to attempt the same. Not wanting to waste any time, Tristen grabbed every flower and herb close to the road. The only information he gleaned from the flowers were their names. He had found only a handful of different plants during the trek, which included a Blood Rose, Honey Trap, Rain Catcher and Creeping Moss. Two of these ingredients Tristen needed for their gathering quests. After identifying the twentieth Blood Rose, a notification showed up in the corner of his vision. He also received a more detailed description of the flower:

Blood Rose

The petals of the blood rose are often used in a healing poultice or mixed by an alchemist as the primary ingredient in healing potions.

 

Congratulations, you have unlocked the skill Inspect)

Your inquisitive nature has finally paid off. Using this ability within the world of Aeglenn will reveal more detailed descriptions of the inspection target. As the skill levels, hints about the item inspected will show the usefulness of an object. Inspection is not a substitute for more specialized skills like Herb Lore that would yield even further insights into herbs, flowers, and plants.

Max Level: 10 - each level grants the inspector more information about the item or person inspected. At max level, the inspector will be able to ascertain the history of the inspected object and may unlock hidden information.


“Awesome!” shouted Tristen, startling his friends.

He told them about the skill he had unlocked and its description. After inspecting a few more Blood Roses, he noticed that the experience bar for the ability hadn’t shifted. He supposed it would be too easy check the same object over and over to gain experience. By the time Tristen had reached Kylanoris, he had only been able to increase his inspect skill by eight points. The rest of the party had also unlocked the ability.

 

Tristen hoped he didn’t run into the same requirements for inspecting sentient creatures. If he had to find something unique for every skill point, it would be impossible to level. Perhaps some NPCs specialized in the skill in the event he needed something identified further. 

They had finally reached Kylanoris. Tyler needed to stay outside the town on account of his race. If he stepped foot in Kylanoris, he would be marked as an enemy and killed on sight.

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A note from Balr0g

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About the author

Balr0g

Bio: This is the section where I'm supposed to write how I have always dreamed of writing books and that there are dozens of five star books out there with my name on them. Reality? I am brand new to writing, and worse, I'm not a creative writer. Most of the stuff that I have written is technical, cyber-related stuff. So, how in the world did I start down this path? The best way to sum it up is D. Rus and Vasiliy Mahenenka. These two Russian authors created books in a new genre called LitRPG, which falls under a more broad category called Gamelit. I devoured any and every book created by these two authors and quickly realized they were not alone in their endeavor. The series they created were translated from Russian to English, but it wasn't long before American authors started pushing their own series. Since starting with the Play to Live series (D.Rus), I've read hundreds of books and dozens of stories on Royal Road. I started posing questions and conversations about plots and book directions in various groups and forums. Eventually, I got the idea to start keeping track of my ideas and instead of giving them away, write my own story. Herein, is born a writer (or at least a wannabe writer)... not a writer to grab a paycheck, and not even for the sake of a job. I am putting this first story together purely for my enjoyment and it has been a fun ride so far.

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