▲▼▲ - 3:8 - ▲▼▲
“What do you mean, we’re not selling?” the woman asked. “We just bought another thirty yesterday.”
“The market is turning again,” the man said. “So I found a better idea.” He had his sleeves rolled up as he washed the dishes. Beyond the comfort of his plantation home, the kitchen echoed with dull, watery thumps as he struggled to get the last bit of caked-on food from a plate.
The woman was lounging on a luxury couch, the best one could afford in that part of Africa. “Come on now, don’t leave a girl waiting.”
The man smiled at her as he wiped his hands with a dishrag. “Politics,” he said. “Things are getting tense with Portugal. Afonso wants to cut the trade down.”
The woman scoffed. “And he’d say goodbye to the realm if he did that. That’s most of his state income!”
The man leaned back on the kitchen sink. “I’ve read on the forums that other players were starting a hospital somewhere in Sweden. Modern surgery, transplants, and the like.” He grinned. “They’ll need donors.”
She reflected the expression. “Oh, you devil,” she purred. “And I suppose you’ll ship the… raw product all the way there?”
He chuckled, then turned back to the sink. “Until we can find a way to keep organs fresh for the trip, it’ll have to do. He reached for the dish soap. An empty bottle stared back. “Love, where’s the soap?”
She didn’t look up from her book. “Ask one of the guards, darling.”
The man sighed and shook his head. He opened the top cabinets - plates and cups. He pulled open the drawers - silverware and useless kitchen junk. He knelt down and opened the sink cabinet.
A face grinned back. A toothy grimace with large eyes.
He eased the cabinet back shut, paused to reassure himself that this was a dream, and creaked it back open.
It was a girl. Black hair, Asian eyes, small body curled up into a pounce. Black leather armor with gold accents. Daggers in her hands.
"Hello," the girl whispered.
"Hello," he replied.
She pounced on him, pinned him to the floor, and stabbed him in the throat.
Rika stood in the kitchen and surveyed with great satisfaction the state of the place. Cabinets shredded, dishware shattered all over the floor. Blood sprayed over just about everything. A dead player at her feet. In the living room, Garrock was stringing body parts off the ceiling like little holiday ornaments.
Outside, there was a mess of noise. People were shouting, running, looting. A few off-hand gunshots thumped in the distance, but this was expected. Hundreds of slaves had just been freed and were overwhelming the guards. This was the fourth slave revolt today, and this time they knew to sneak out weapons from the armory for them.
"Good game," Rika said.
"Yes, yes, good game."
They searched the house for loot. Normally the owners would keep gold or currency in lockboxes or hidden beneath floorboards. This house, however, contained a basement.
Its latch door was hidden under a rug. They threw it open, waved away the plume of dust, and stepped down into the dark. It was damp and smelled like potatoes and copper. Using a quick fire spell, Rika lit a torch. The flame flickered on, and their shadows danced against the walls.
They were blinded by the glitter of gold.
Stacks upon stacks of golden bars shining in the torchlight. Rika was nearly salivating at the sight of it. She figured that split between them, it could’ve been a dozen levels’ worth.
The front door above snapped open and more footsteps pounded around. She looked at Garrock, and he took the hint, hurrying to shut and barricade the cellar door with anything he could find.
The gold bars were way too big to even consider eating.
The door slammed and rattled. People were desperate to break in, kicking and punching and slamming their bodies against it. Shouts and demands and orders muffled through.
"We should hurry, yes?" Garrock said. He summoned a portal to elsewhere, and it crackled in. Dirt and dust swirled around as they hurried to toss armfuls through it.
The door shattered. Both guards and slaves aimed their muskets at them. One fired and it slammed into the dirt wall, throwing dust and smoke around.
A few more bars remained.
Garrock took another handful, dropping several, and hopped in just as he took a musket ball to the chest. His aura shattered as he crossed the threshold.
Another gunshot sparked off Rika’s aura.
She gripped the air and yanked it toward them, using the Gust spell to throw all the thick dirt and dust from the cellar floor into their faces. A gunshot thumped into a nearby gold bar, blossoming the soft metal.
Rika tossed a few more bars in, took the last handful, and hopped into the portal. She landed right in front of the Lightning Temple, surrounded by familiar faces of awe and excitement.
The cultists had made camp here, both to rest and to clean the place up for future pilgrimages. Now they stared at Garrock and her with wide, amused eyes, glancing between them and the mound of gold dropped into the sand.
She dusted her hands off. "We left for a snack," she said.
Total XP Gain: 147,927
Level Up! +22
You are now level 49.
You have 22 unused ability points.
Rika sat on her beanbag chair in her virtual room, going through her spell lists with giddy anticipation. It had been so long since she last raided a player’s base, that she forgot how great it felt to take from them everything. She remembered that during the previous season of the game, back when magic wasn’t even enabled for players, most of her income and her entertainment came from raiding.
She missed it.
So far, this season had been a complete failure. After uncovering evidence of an actual quest, the World Quest, she built up her own cult of magic-wielding nipsies for the journey. She made alliances with other secret cults until a certain one had betrayed her - Mondego. She made friends with a nipsy, only for him to also be taken from her. Now she was forcing herself to work with him, knowing that both would be trying to manipulate the other.
Rika grunted in irritation, dropping back into the bean bag. It rustled beneath her.
At the very least, she nearly doubled her strength and almost made it to the mid-game, where levels came slower and the stakes higher. Until she can find out where Ediha was imprisoned, there was nothing to do but gain more power.
The list of spells stared at her. She already knew Ice Wall would be her first choice, so she maxed it out. For heavy knight types, she put a single point in lightning. It would hopefully be enough to stun a paladin. With great reluctance, she spent 20 points in the teleportation tree, now enabling her to move distances as far as Valgus was able to. It had been a spell she was avoiding for some time. Usually, only those players who had no interest combat and only did economic things - which was most players, surprisingly - would bother with the skill. Those 20 points could’ve really padded her repertoire, but it was a necessity.
Ice Wall 0/1 +1
Lightning Strike 0/5 +1
Summon Portal 0/20 +20
Just as she logged back in, and felt her feet touch the dirt, she got a notification.
A group chat invite from Stef.
▲▼▲ - 3:9 - ▲▼▲
Rika: WHERE IS EDIHA
Stef: Relax, damn. Where you at?
Rika: I'm traveling with Mondego and Garrock.
Rika: They hate the Pax Universalis too.
Rika: Mutual enemies. Might can use them somehow.
Stef: Yeah, bring him here and let us eat him.
Rika: After we get Ediha, sure.
Rika: Actually, we can just feed him to Ediha.
Valgus: I wanna wear his skin first.
Valgus: I found Saito, by the way. I caught him gathering volunteers to go back and raid the mountains, saying there were bandits or whatever. He apparently got spooked after we didn't show up for a few hours.
Stef: Who the hell is Saito?
Valgus: A samurai dude.
Stef: Where are you now?
Valgus: We're at an inn somewhere in India.
Stef: India is a big-ass place, buckeroo.
Valgus: I don't fuckin know where we are
Rika: WHERE IS EDIHA
Stef: We sent somebody to check on him. He's with the Knights of Rhodes.
Rika: Are they the Pax Universalis?
Stef: They are now.
Rika: Is he safe?
Stef: Hostage or not, the paladins have taken a liking to him. We think they're trying to convert him under the guise of training. For the moment, he's probably safe.
Rika: I don't trust them.
Stef: Don't need to. We'll break him out once we can.
Valgus: Where are you right now, Rika?
Valgus: Aight. We're coming.
Rika: I didn't even tell you where.
Stef: No, just come here to Mexico. Let Rika scout Rhodes once she can. Deal?
Rika flung the screen away in irritation. Though she was relieved that Ediha was in relative safety, she was enraged that those lunatic religious extremists would dare take her spot as the mentor of that boy.
She was seething.
"Bad news, I assume?"
She turned to look. It was Mondego, coming out of his tent. His hair was a boyish mess, sort of like Stef's until he started to tame it. "The enemy is in Rhodes."
He nodded. "Then we will go to Rhodes." He yawned. "Eventually."
She glared back. "Eventually?"
"We have another temple to visit. The Earth Temple, in Egypt."