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I logged in to the game, and for once didn’t have to push Inkler off of my sleeping form. Of course, he was napping on his absolutely massive bed that I had made for him. “Hey bud, I’ll leave a cassowack leg or two on the table for you. Unless you want to go out and run boring errands with me?”

He cracked an eye to look at me as if I had lost my marbles, then closed it again. Oh well, probably better that I go solo for most of the day. Once his breakfast was prepared, I headed down to the barracks where we were supposed to meet. It really was the only place that Derrick could fit.

“Hey guys.” I said, jogging up. “Sorry for being the last one here.” Looking at the group, there would be no easy solution for fighting them together. Derrick was massive, most of us only coming up to his thigh. He had on some bits of armor, but most people would focus on the greatsword that was larger than most characters, and peg him for a physical tank. Jon bore a striking resemblance to sasquatch. Phoebe just looked ferocious with those massive canines from her evolution. Each one was nearly the size of my forearm, and the stripes on her coat reminded me of a tiger.

“Angus, good to see ya.” Jon, or JonnyBGood, said.

“How are we calling each other? Just to avoid confusion.” I asked.

“Jon or Jonny for me, Illyora for Phoebe, and Derrick is just Rocky.”

“Alright, thanks. Now, before we get going on all our grand plans, I need to see if we can pull this off.” Reaching into my inventory, I pulled out the crown I had gotten from the Saguahin king. Putting it on, I got a popup I was hoping for.

Leadership item acquired!

 

You have donned a leadership item! These items allow monster players to form parties based upon their tier. The tiers are as follows, from lowest to highest:

 

Peasant tier. Can group up to 3 players or NPCs

Soldier tier. Can group up to 10 players or NPCs

General tier. Can group up to 10 players or NPCs. Can form minor guild up to 30 players.

Noble tier. Can group up to one raid group (30 players or NPCs). Can form medium guilds up to 75 players.

Royal tier. Can form two raid groups, provided second group has a noble tier leadership item. Can form large guilds, up to 150 players.

 

Congratulations!

 

You have donned a Royal tier leadership item! You may form a group of up to 30 players and NPCs, and link it with a secondary group if you wish. As leader, you may choose loot and experience splitting options. You may also give out quests to specific members of your raid, and reward them based upon their results. You need not equip the item at all times, so long as it is in your inventory it will be effective. You only need to wear it when you are adding members to your raid.

 

“Holy shit, we can party up?” Rocky asked when I sent them the invites.

“Yep. Leadership items. Different tiers let you make different sized groups. They are fairly rare so far, but will probably grow rather common when the devs see what use we make of them. If you guys don’t mind, I’ll set some quests for you to get done today. That’ll give you some experience, and I can set my share of the experience to go to Rocky and Illyora’s to go to Jonny if that’s ok with everyone.”

“Fine by us.” Illyora said.

“Me too.” Rocky answered. Getting their consent, I went through and started making custom quests. The first went to Illyora and Jonny.

New quest alert!

 

Your raid leader, Angus_MacG, has requested you to scout the immediate area around the city. Your tasks are to determine probable attacking routes and how to minimize the danger.

Task

Reward (tailored)

Failure

Scout the surrounding area. Identify probable routes from adventurers assaulting the city, and plan out the most likely places to plant traps.

Jonny: ring and scepter, or 2 commissioned pieces of gear

Illyora: 2 commissioned pieces of gear.

None. Though I will be disappointed in you.

 

New quest alert!

 

Your raid leader, Angus_MacG, has requested your assistance in developing a remote trigger device. He has already figured out the proper height, he needs you to determine how to craft ice of the proper thickness.

Task

Reward

Failure

Create ice of varying thicknesses, that will drop the potion after a half hour has elapsed.

2 commissioned pieces of gear

None. Though I will be disappointed in you.

 

“Disappointed?” Illyora asked with an eyebrow raised.

“Hey, nothing crushed me harder as a kid than having my parents say they were disappointed.”

“Fair enough.” She chuckled. “Well, let’s go scouting Jonny. What do we do if we come across any light siders?”

“Discourage their presence. Try not to attack them, but if they won’t take a hint feel free to kill them.”

“Perfect. Thanks Angus, catch ya later.”

“So what’s this about a trigger?”

“So the plan is this.” I said, pulling the prototype out of my inventory. It was rather simple. A rectangular base, with a small spike protruding up from the center. Each corner had a support pillar, two feet tall. At the top was another rectangle, though this one had a large hole in the middle. “Putting a potion in from the bottom here, your ice will hold it in place above the spike. Ice melts at a set rate, so if we have several of these with ice of identical thickness, they should all drop the potion at the same time. The potion falls and is cracked open by the spike, exploding. I’m going to hedge my bets on setting things on fire by placing a half keg of oil nearby, probably have whoever is dropping the thing to split the keg and splash it around a bit.”

“And you want the potion to drop after a half hour?”

“Yep. That’ll give us enough of a head start that we will be well on our way, but not enough time for someone to stumble in to the church. Hopefully that many fires going off at once will discourage people from rushing in.”

“Alright. This should be fun! Can I get a helper? Giant fingers aren’t really skilled enough to handle your empty potion vials.”

“Sure, I’ll have Khaliss send someone over. I need to add him to the group anyway.”

Once I had the group on their missions, I started adding people to the raid. Khaliss of course, and he also insisted Shrik be added. The drow ended up taking twelve of the slots. When I pressed the priestess, she insisted that many of them were only doing minor parts like placing silence stones. Those didn’t need to be in the raid itself, as this was a punishment for transgressions that she wouldn’t explain. I guess that they had been actively placing the stones for a while, as they wouldn’t activate until all of them were in the proper placement. I then had to go through and barter with the general store manager, as he wasn’t keen on selling me his entire stock of lamp oil in half kegs without explanation. Well, he wasn’t until Khaliss came in and practically ordered him. I think his options were to sell it to me, or have Khaliss confiscate it. He sold. Then it was off to Dharkiss. I gave him a down payment for whatever Illyora ended up ordering, as well as having him and his apprentice craft at least twenty of the prototype detonators. He tried to get me to boost up the materials to steel, but I insisted on the cheapest iron. These weren’t going to be re-used, and the iron would melt leaving no trace.

“You’ve been a busy bee.” I heard as I walked out of Dharkiss’ shop, and I turned to see the priestess of Lolth there.

“Hello priestess. Can I help you with anything?”

“Actually, I think I need to be helping you. Have you gotten all your preparations completed?”

“They are, or are being completed by others. Why?”

“Because you have forgotten something of great importance. Unless you have the riding skill?”

“Aw shit. No, I don’t have that. Do you have anyone capable of teaching us?”

“Well, turns out it is just you. Khaliss already has it. I can transfer to you beginner level one, but you’ll need to grind up the skill on your own.”

“I don’t suppose you have any tips for grinding?”

“Trust me, I have all the best techniques for grinding.” She said, dropping her voice a bit. “In fact, if you have someone tutor you while you are learning, you can gain skills much faster.”

“And you wish to tutor me?” I asked, rather shocked.

“Well, if you insist then I shall. You are rather, interesting.”

“My thanks. Lead on?” Reaching out, she grabbed my hand and dragged me away. Once we were down at the barracks, she informed Khaliss that she was going to work on my riding skills. In those exact words. I barely stopped myself from yelling something about phrasing at her, as Khaliss was already giving me a look.

“Wonderful. I love a man who knows his place in things.” She said, before placing a thumb on my forehead. I felt a tingle, then got a popup.

New skill acquired!

Riding, beginner level 1

 

“Excellent. Now, the spiders are much different from horses or whatever the lightsiders are using these days. They can maneuver over any incline, but you must make sure that your leg straps are secured. If not, well. Imagine what would happen if you had to go inverted for a while with loose leg straps.”

After our brief introduction on how to sit, the priestess nimbly climbed up behind me and strapped in to the saddle. Leaning forward, she whispered, “Don’t worry, I’ll be gentle. It is your first time after all.” I had gone my whole life without hearing a priestess of Lolth giggle, and I really wanted to keep that streak going. It was just disturbing.

Halfway through our riding training, I figured she was giggling because I believed her lie about being gentle. We started off simple, walking along the ground. I learned all about how the spiders were decent at distance, and could truly sprint at need, but that wasn’t their strength. And so we then started scaling the sides of mountains. We went places that billy goats would find inaccessible. The worst part was when we crossed a canyon midway down. The spider shot a silk strand across, then used that to cross while dangling upside down. By the time we got back, I had stopped trying to figure out physics. It helped to just assume that the spider was constantly in the down direction and focus on that. The rest was gravity manipulation.

“Angus, you’re looking a little green there.” Rocky chuckled as we finally made it back to the city.

“Yup.” I replied. I didn’t have enough mental fortitude to muster anything better.

“He did wonderful though.” The priestess purred into my ear. “Not a single complaint. If only he were a drow, the perfect man just might exist.”

“So, how much did you improve his riding skills?”

“He should be near advanced.”

“Advanced rank in just one afternoon? I envy your stamina Angus.”

“Enough.” She said curtly. “He did work hard this afternoon. If there were a spider large enough for you to ride that wasn’t the personal pet of our goddess, I might be inclined to put you through the same torment just to see how you fared.”

“Relax priestess. He’s too mentally drained to be snarky in return, and that’s half the fun.”

“Ugh. What do we have left to do?” I asked.

“Traps. Here, I’ve finally gotten the ice down pat.”

“Excellent. I’ll head to Dharkiss’ shop, pick up the traps, and then you can set them. They won’t melt in the inventory. After that, we need to head to Ascencion.”

The rest of the afternoon was annoying. Pick up the traps, return to have Rocky set them with his ice spell, then put them in my inventory. I ended up giving Rocky five platinum as a down payment for his commissions, telling him to get top tier gear. Once that was done, I had to rouse Inkler. He ended up fighting me on it, determined to sleep in a sunbeam. I had my revenge, summoning him in the middle of a pool of water that Rocky conjured. Maybe next time the cat will listen. Team rounded up, we started the long trek to Ascencion. Inkler was easily able to keep up with the spiders, who traveled at a near jogging pace. The priestess insisted on riding on the same spider as me, though she pouted when I said I was keeping my armor on. No need to tempt bandits.

Our arrival at the city was subdued. We walked past the gate guards, who didn’t even bother to try and interrogate us. Three blocks into the city and we were at the embassy, where everyone did their best to completely ignore our presence. I figured that was for the best, though I wasn’t too happy to be sleeping in the stable with the spiders. I guess they were serious about not giving us anything, as even the priestess was out in the stable, roughing it. I decided to stay in the game, falling asleep as soon as I could.

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About the author

Mighty Moushie

Bio: I'm a chemist that gave writing a try, and loved the results. Everything is mostly for fun right now, though I might try and get some things published eventually. Certain traits of my daughter have made it into bits of my stories, and she sometimes keeps me company when we both have trouble sleeping.

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