The room smelled… not quite like linen, but not quite like pine. It was irritating close to the smell of a car lot, and it reeked. It wasn’t quite fresh enough to be enjoyable, but present enough to be unignorable.
I sat across from a broker, my face flush and painted with incredulity.
“They’re worth what?” ‘Incredible… three hundred dollars each!’ I stood in agitation.
“S..sir, if you had a membership, we would offer 10% more!”
“330 each? So 660 in all?” I nearly shouted. “Why don’t you just sign me up! Right now!”
“I’m sorry, that’s the most we can offer!” He apologized, holding his hands out apologetically.
“That’s the most?!” ‘Incredible… three hundred dollars for the cores from my solo quest!’ I stood in agitation.
“That really is the best I can offer!”
“Sign me up!” I slammed the two red cores on the table.
The broker left, coming back with a fat stack of paperwork. He split it in two, placing two folders.
“This side is for if you’re a registered member… of course, we offer better benefits for our partner guilds, which is what this side is for.”
Splitting the paperwork in half didn’t help. This was worse than buying a car...
The membership fee was 50 dollars.
Fucking rip off.
It was still net positive though, and I planned on coming back here lots in the future. I left with my account 610 dollars richer… enough to buy some moderate gear and a license to access a gate. I couldn’t help but feel like I was forgetting something though.
“My knife!” I grabbed my face. My exclamation prompted more than one sideways glance from the people on the street. Now flushed with embarrassment, I made my way to the meeting spot I had arranged. I had asked for someone else to pick up the goods— for a fee.
I refreshed the shopper app, scanning the parking lot near the park. ‘Blue honda…. Blue honda… there it is.’
“Yo. You Damon?”
“Yeah. Here’s a tip. Don’t tell the IRS!”
“Cash huh? Rare to see that these days. Appreciated.”
The man passed me a canvas bag. I checked the contents greedily. I saw the shiny glint of metal under the sun’s light.
“Looks like it's all here… portable grill, butchery for dummies—”
“Yeah yeah man, I don’t want to know what the hell you’re getting up to. I’m out.” The man stepped back into his car.
I squinted, checking the rest of the contents. I really didn’t know why he reacted like that… lets see, where was I… Portable grill, butchery for dummies, electric razor, of course, the giant canvas bag for carrying my armor… oh. I am not a cannibal, I swear! Oh well, the shopper is already gone.
Home was a short walk, only minutes away. I stole inside, up the stairs, to my room, the bag hung over my shoulder, taking out the electric razor. I quickly assembled it, looking up in the mirror at my hair covered face.
[Tenacity] Lvl. 1
[Tenacity] is a skill used by the direwolves to fight at full health despite their injuries. As pack hunters, they use the weakest of their members as fodder to hunt higher level prey.
[Wolfman] Lvl. 9
[Wolfman]: Debuff inflicted due to User incompatibility with the skill. The user will experience loss of self control on the full moon. User may also experience unexpected hair growth.
I could only see the debuff once I accepted the skill. My eyes hardened as I looked at the prompt.
“Alexa, when is the next full moon?”
“The next full moon will be on January 28th, 2040 at 12—”
“What's the current date?”
“Today is Wednesday, the 25th.”
“Shit.” I had until Saturday.
“I haven’t been equipped to do that.” I sighed. I needed to find more dire wolves… and fast. I also would need to find a party that wouldn’t care that I needed to take off some chunks of it. Of course, I wouldn’t be eating it infront of them or anything. I just had to come up with an excuse for why I was taking it.
Direwolves… they weren’t native to Ares. No, they were native to Artemis- the wild lands beyond the green gate. Inside of those dungeons, they could be considered a regular mob, similar to the status of hell chickens…
Shit, I would get eaten alive in Artemis.
At least, if I was alone.
It was time to make a few calls. I opened one of my familiar forums, clicking straight into the Looking For Group section. This forum was only accessible to USAG registered Avatars. I clicked through the posts in Seatac.
LFG - Level 24 - Artemis -Tank! Bronze minimum!
Looking for raiders - Tanks or Healers - Bronze+!!!!
Logging East of Artemis gate. Looking for guards and porters! Bronze+!
Looking to form a consistent party. MSG inside! Iron grade need not apply
One by one I replied to each of the messages… even though my level was severely lacking. It wasn’t long before I got a call back— most groups were looking to raid in the next few days.
“...well, no, I mean I’m technically level 5…” I heard the sound of the phone ringing. I sighed, calling the next number.
“...I guess I mostly have unarmed skills.”
“Like a tank? A berserker class?”
“Ah, I guess my skills are more damage focused… but they’re extremely strong.”
“Why would you waste our fucking time! You goddamn…” I hung up on that one some time into his yelling.
I’m sure I can get in on a raid before the full moon.
“This is monitoring division, operator Owl, reporting.”
“I am monitoring avatar SEA13. In the report, I’ve observed the suspect entering his home. Does… does the suspect have a brother that wasn’t listed in the report?”
“I… how recent is the photo from the file?”
There was a pause as Owl's contact double checked the information.
“Operator, we have confirmed the photo is recent. It was taken after he exited the gate, only a day ago.”
‘Owl’ looked down off the rooftop, watching the man leaving the residence of his suspect. He matched the suspects height, and looked extremely similar… except his hair was just a tad… almost reddish brown.