Despite his rather bland appearance and unassuming attitude, the man calling himself Dexter was actually very much not a man, nor even a human. He was actually a bloodthirsty monster wearing the shape of a man like most people would wear a shirt, a creature known as a Doppelganger, and his name was Shifty. He normally worked in the mid levels of the dungeon known as Deep Thousand, an infamous thousand level dungeon. However, today, he was on a mission. His boss, Kragathor, had commanded Shifty to infiltrate the nearby town of Millen, acquire several samples of something called a ‘Virmo’ and bring them back.

In his present guise, he was a slightly pudgy with fair skin and brown hair. He wore scuffed, nicked, and dirty leather armor that was poorly fitted to his frame, and had a dinged up sword sheathed at his waist. On his back he carried a worn canvas rucksack. Altogether, it made him look the part of a freshly blooded adventurer, still unskilled but no longer inexperienced. In a town like Millen, such a disguise was nearly as good as an Invisibility potion.

He had gotten through the gates with ease, flashing the counterfeit identification badge his boss had created for him.

Now, he just had to do some selling and shopping. This job would be a cakewalk.

This was not the first time that Shifty had visited the town, as his contract stipulated monthly vacations which allowed him to play a bit as well as keep up to date with the latest in civilized culture, a vital necessity for a being like Shifty who lived and died on the ability to deceive his enemies and prey. However, he kept overhearing people talking about these Virmo things that the boss had asked him to get.

He stopped and asked a passerby where he could get a Virmo.

“Hm? Oh, the Virmo Store is right in Town Center Plaza. They bought out the old jeweler’s place a couple weeks back. You really, really can’t miss it. Shit, I can’t wait until I can save up for one and finally play. Everyone’s been talking about those things.”

“I know, right? I’ve been on an extended trip, and when I get back all anybody talks about is this new Virmo thing. Say, how much do they cost?” Shifty grinned on the inside at the talkative fool who was helping him and answering his questions.

“Surprisingly, only about twenty gold marks. I’ve heard those things are practically artifact class with how complex their magic is, but they’ve got some proprietary method to mass produce them or something like that,” the stranger said.

“Oh man, I might be able to afford one after I fence the loot from my trip. Thanks, pal!” Shifty amicably parted ways with the stranger and headed off to sell some of the items he’d been sent off with in order to purchase the Virmo, even though he still had no idea what the item was.

Fifteen minutes later, two items lighter and 82 gold marks richer, Shifty headed to the Virmo Store. It was easy to spot, as the building had been completely redone since the last time he’d seen it. The walls were now covered in tiles of brushed steel, and the store front was made entirely of glass. Above the door, which was also made of glass, was a glowing sign in the shape of a pyramid. The place was certainly gaudy enough. Shifty went in.

“Welcome to the Virmo Store! How can I help you?” An annoyingly perky, blond elf girl chirped at him with a wide smile on her face.

“I want to buy some Virmos.” Shifty groaned inwardly. He really wanted to gnaw this cheery bitch’s face off.

“Do you know which ones you want?”

“No. Do you have like a pamphlet or anything?” Strangling would be good too, he thought.

“Sure do!” She withdrew a very glossy and colorful paper from a storage item and handed it to him.

“I’m just going to take my time and read this.” Oh gods, just shut up already and leave me alone.

“Sure thing!”

He wandered away from the elf to read the literature. The Virmo was apparently actually spelled VRMMO, as all the products in the pamphlet were labeled as VRMMO games. It even helpfully defined VRMMO as Very Realistic Massively Magical Otherworld game.

Shifty blinked. The ancient dragon of immeasurable power, Kragathor Tenset Malevolous, wanted him to buy a game?


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About the author

Michael Dale

  • Austin, TX


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