Luthias said something from across the Workshop.

Gabrielle wiggled her toes. "Why doesn’t he want to play with me anymore?"

Mister Stabby answered, "Don’t be silly, master. It’s a solo dungeon. Just three hundred and fifty minutes."

"Is it because I’m not a hot Elf?"

"You’re a beautiful Demon girl."

"Was it because of that cake?"

"It was quite sweet."

Gabrielle winced. "Now he’s gone—with three tomes. What if he dies? What if my pretties all die?"

"They won’t."

"This is all… someone’s fault."

"It could be yours."

"Nope. It’s that dummy’s."

Something gently brushed her upper arm. Skylar. He said in a weak voice, "Gab, are you in there?"

She offered a cheery smile. "Course I am. What’s up?"

He backed away by a few inches. "Oh, nothing. Thought your VR pod was malfunctioning or something. You were staring at the wall."

She could’ve sworn she just had a conversation with Mister Stabby. Her imagination was playing up again. "Dun be silly. I’m just putting together another recipe for Sortis Yummies."

"Got anything yet?"

"Not yet." Her eyes skipped to the shaking pot. She jumped to her feet. "Stew’s done!" She carefully lifted the lid, steam biting her wrist. "Owie. That’s hotter than I asked for." That Stew skill needed a patch!

Aroma of spinach, turnips, mushrooms, and deer meat made a pleasant savory introduction. Gabrielle spooned some, blowing, and sipped. Delight filled her to the tippy top of her head. "Delicious! Help yourself, Sky."

His Elf eyes hopped upward. "You’re not having any?"

"Nope. Had too much cake. Hehehe." She cut a glance toward the smokeless Forging Station. "Want some stew, Luthias?"

"I do, thank you, but I was asking for your attention." He was holding a sheathed sword. He tapped the shiny club-shaped pommel with his long index finger.

Joybringer was done!

Perhaps with Mister Stabby and Joybringer, she wouldn't even need a certain dummy who wasn’t going to be named for the next five hours and a bit. Her legs took her on a skipping journey across the room, which wasn’t a long journey per-say, but a fun journey no doubt.

She beamed at the taller Sun Elf. A few wrinkles by those widely-spaced eyes gave Luthias a look of wisdom.

He said, "Is this to your liking?"


"The quality, my lady."

Oh. That. She thought this was going to be some kind of fancy knighting ceremony. She focused on the hilt instead, kindly asking the world’s magic for some knowledge.

The world kindly responded, a box enlarging between her two transparent noses.

Joybringer : Steel-Blacksteel Bastard Sword
Item Type: Melee weapon (one or two handed)
Item Quality: 872 (Greater Masterwork)
Damage rating: 88

Skylar choked on stew behind. He coughed thrice. "Faaaar out."

Gabrielle’s tongue popped. "Great masterwork. Moonfyre was only like… excellent, right?" She hopped on the spot. "I win!"

"Indeed." Luthias nodded. "Because you have shown us nothing but pure kindness, I applied everything I know about forging. The blade is pattern-welded from soft steel and hardened blacksteel, more of the latter, magically tempered to a resistant finish. The edge should withstand the mightiest of blows, but the blade will not shatter as though it were forged with dragonsteel."

A few details of that were lost to Gabrielle’s ears, but understanding promptly pieced together in her brain when she grabbed the super soft scabbard and then unsheathed Joybringer. The double-edged blade had twisty, jumbled light and dark patterns like oil floating on water frozen in time. Two ridges, on both sides, ran down the length and tapered to an arch-point.

And the guard and pommel were nice too, plated with what looked like a mix of steel and gold. The stitchings on the leather grip criss-crossed nicely. The attention to detail, the craftsmanship, was that of an old master, which Luthias technically was.

It was the prettiest sword she had ever seen, and she had seen maybe a few swords up close in her life time. "I love it!" She giggled, sheathing it and tying it to the top of her linen pants. "So does that mean ya have your memories back?"

Luthias’ chin tucked. "Glimpses and flashes return to me every other hour."

"So… No." How sad. "Well, hang in there. I’m sure there’s a special magic that could help ya."

"I hope there is. None have ascended past Shaman or Priest."

That was news, and she couldn’t be bothered digging through the forums. People were still complaining about this and that in every section. "Ya sure? Ya’ve been a slave for a while…"

"More than positive." Luthias walked across the room with tired steps. He picked up the steel ladle, scooped twice. His eyes brightened as he drank. No criticisms of her cooking. Good Elf.

Skylar set his empty bowl in the Cooking Bench’s sink. He didn’t wash it. Naughty boy! "A group of adventurers are planning to build a Minstrel Sanctuary."


"Ah… the eastern Human kingdom."

Luthias’ eyes slightly narrowed. "That is ambitious."

Gabrielle couldn’t help but ask like a dummy: "And why is that ambitious?"

"Excuse me. I forget you are new to this world." Luthias chugged the rest of his bowl, wiped his lips on the back of his arm very boyishly. "The monuments for each advanced class requires a godly amount of rare metals, woods, and gems. When it is activated, the sheer outpour of magic can be felt world-wide."

Godly. Funny word choice.

A grunt came from Skylar. His fingers were woven behind his head. "But Light’s Justice has thousands of adventurers. They have eight sub-guilds now."

"Thousands. They should help those in need instead. Hard times have befallen the Humans."

Skylar’s eyebrow raised. "What about the Trolls?"

Luthias was suddenly angry. "They are beyond help. They have wronged us in ways unimaginable, in ways I can no longer imagine."

"Is that why you built a Myrmidon Temple?" Skylar’s tone was inquisitive. "As a way to make war against them? To wipe them out?"

Luthias growled, "Don’t be so presumptuous, adventurer! That holy Temple was constructed a millennia ago as a symbol of peace, as a symbol of the Elven golden age. That time has long passed, and we have been forced to defend ourselves. We are not the violent savages of this world!"

Skylar raised two palms. "Whoah. I’m just curious, not implying anything."

"Then you should consider your words more carefully," Luthias said quite harshly. "Even you, an adventurer who has been enslaved by them, can’t comprehend the horrors our people have endured." His voice was on the verge of breaking.

"Awww. There, there. It’s kay." Gabrielle allowed him a motherly expression, rubbing his muscled back. It seemed to help somewhat. "My dummy husband will burn down all their cities for ya. It’ll be better soon." And she was rather excited to see that, an evil part of her mind rooting for total mayhem upon those meanies.

A conflicted look battled back and forth in Luthias’ eyes. He eventually exhaled, then helped himself to seconds. "If that is the will of the gods, then I am naught to judge."

Gabrielle’s sinister giggles lightened the mood adorably, but her disobeying eyes kept drifting toward Row’s entry on her friend list. The color changed from green to orange again. Then orange-red. Dummy!


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