Bloom frowned. Greyvern's son. Did he have any more children besides Marcus? But Marcus was supposed to be back by the time Elsa left her at Thoringar's.
She eyed the village around her. A murky shadow covered as far as her eyes could see. Everything around her was gradually becoming darker and the streetlamps by the now empty roads had started lighting up one by one with pale yellow fire.
Was this night?
The latest system message she ignored, hadn’t it said something about monsters becoming stronger at night?
She walked up to the two people and greeted Greyvern. “Is Marcus still outside?” she asked.
“An immortal?” Geralt, the guard captain, frowned, not too impressed at the interruption. The girl didn’t even greet him. “What do you want here?”
“You are the one who descended today! I saw Marcus talking to you before,” Greyvern said, eagerly looking up. “Do you know anything? Did he tell you why he’s late?”
“No,” Bloom’s answer drew a disappointed sigh from Greyvern, “but I owe him a favour for helping me out,” she said, smiling. Breaking her out of her cage, just the word favour didn’t do justice to what he did for her. without his help, she might still be sitting within that stone circle, moping at her own inability.
“Did he?” Greyvern nodded. “Yes, I can see him doing that. Are you looking for him for something? But he...” His brows knitted with worry, as he looked to the village gate nearby.
“He’s late, isn’t he?” Bloom also followed his gaze to the dark lines of trees outside the village. “I could help you search for him."
“You should mind your own damn business, immortal,” Geralt interjected. “We don’t need your help here.”
Greyvern also frowned. “He is right. I wouldn’t want to bother you. The sun’s already set, so going out wouldn’t be safe for you.”
“Heard him? Now go away! We are busy here, no time to entertain your esteemed self,” Geralt said sarcastically, then turned to Greyvern. “Now, old man, I’ll say it for the last time, let’s go. I don’t want to be in trouble bec--”
“I’m about to go out anyway,” Bloom said to Greyvern, “so it won’t really bother me. Just tell me where he is supposed to be.”
Geralt’s face darkened. “Are you ignoring me?”
“Shut up!” Bloom snapped without turning towards him.
“You deathless wretch!”
Long creases appeared on the wrinkled skin of Greyvern’s forehead. Why was she antagonizing him? He stepped in between the two and swiftly clasped Geralt’s hand just as he was about to reach for his sword.
“Please give me some time, Geralt.” He bowed to the other man.
Geralt stopped. He drew his hand back and looked at the glittering gold coin Greyvern placed on his palm. “Alright, old man, for old times sake I’ll give you fifteen minutes. And you…” He leaned close to Bloom’s ear and muttered. “If I were you, I’ll get out of Caramis as soon as I can. You Immortals aren’t welcome here.”
Bloom took a big breath. Should I poke his eyes out?
[Geralt’s affinity decreased by -3.]
[You know how to piss them off] Another message box popped up in her mind.
“Remember, just fifteen minutes. No more,” Geralt gave Greyvern one last glare, before going to stand by the gate.
Greyvern looked at Bloom. “Do you really mean to go outside?”
“Follow me,” Greyvern said, walking toward another side of the village.
Bloom took in the evening scenery as they walked. She never had to directly look at people when they during conversations before, nor any other source of sound for that matter. It was all so weird now. And she had just begun to adapt to her sight and hearing. She sighed.
I still have a long way to go!
“I know my son. Ordinary beasts around here won’t stand a chance against him.” Greyvern said suddenly, bringing her back to reality. “He must be late for some other reason. He is a whimsical kid after all. I just hope he isn’t caught up in some sort of trouble. But—” He clenched his fists as he looked up at her. “But if he is, please help him out.”
Quest difficulty: A
Quest limit: 24 hours
Marcus has not come back home from the forest. His father Greyvern Therusea requests that you look for him and save him if necessary.
- Find Marcus Therusea and the reason for his disappearance.
- Solve his trouble.
- Bring him back alive.
500 gold coins.
+100 affinity with Marcus.
+100 affinity with Greyvern
All future quests relating to Marcus would forever disappear.
Do you wish to accept this quest? YES/NO.]
[Again, not for beginners.]
“Alright, I promise to do my best.”
[... I’m beginning to doubt my creator’s intelligence.]
Bloom stared ahead with hard intensity, her eyes trying to drill a hole into the space in front of her. This was the second time. A repeat of the last mistake must not happen!
“Come in, miss Bloom. We haven’t got much time.” Greyvern’s voice brimmed with impatience.
Bloom bowed her head lower and lower, taking a deep breath to prepare herself. This should be low enough, right? Her heart beat faster and faster, as she stepped through the doorway of Greyvern’s tiny, round hut.
Clear! I didn’t hit my head this time.
She gripped her fist as she stood up.
“Watch out for the—”
The back of Bloom’s head smashed against something hard and sharp and bounded forward. She teared up, the whole world spun around her like crazy.
[damage received: 2]
Her knees buckled. She clutched the spot with one hand, grasping at the air for support.
“—rafters!” Greyvern finished his sentence with a defeated sigh, coming forward to help Bloom steady herself.
“Are you ok?” he asked. “You hit the edge of the wood there.”
Bloom nodded slowly as she took in rapid breaths. She wanted to punch the wall, but the crumbling mud walls of the hut looked like it’d crumble if someone blew on it hard enough.
That sucked! Such a dumb— She frowned, staring above her head. what’s that!
A long, thin cylinder hovered there, swirling with liquid red colour. Bloom rubbed her head, staring at the tiniest fraction on its left side that was dull grey instead of red. The red started devouring the grey little by little as she watched, taking the harshness of the pain with it.
Did that have something to do with damage?
“The rafters are a bit low around the doorway, so you have to be careful,” Greyvern said. “Marcus also hits his head there from time to time. Stupid lad, even when I taught him to mind his surroundings.”
Bloom shook her head to clear it and looked around. The inside of the cottage was almost pitch black now. The darkness was uncomfortably familiar to her.
“So, why are we here?” she asked.
“Oh! Please wait for a moment.” A ball of light popped up from Greyvern’s outstretched hand and floated beside his head. Bloom’s eyes widened as it enveloped the hut in a soft white glow.
Can people actually do that? Or is that a feature of the game?
The old man put aside a few cloth bundles and dragged a dusty chest from underneath one of the two beds. He took out a key, struggling with the rusty iron lock for a whole minute before he managed to get it open.
Bloom peered over Greyvern’s shoulder as the hinges of the lid croaked, protesting his effort to lift it. A cracked shield, a rusty armour, and some other things. Bloom frowned, looking at the small, frail figure of the old man rummaging through the contents.
Question marks for level? What did they mean? Thoringar had them too, and she was struggling to carry something a level 1 Bloom could carry; Though only five steps.
“Found it!” Greyvern took out a sword from the pile. He caressed the old, cracked ivory hilt, looking at it with a hint of nostalgia. Sighing, he closed his eyes as his fingers wrapped around the hilt.
“Here it is.” He stood up, pushing the sword into Bloom’s hand. In a few minutes, he seemed exhausted and older by a decade. “Use it only if you must.”
[You have acquired ‘Strange Rusty Sword’]
Bloom frowned, running her fingertips on the mouldy scraps of leather that may have been its scabbard once. She brushed past the coarse surface of the reddish rust peeking out from the torn parts of the sheath. What a tattered piece of junk. Forget using it, it’d probably break apart if she ever tried to draw it out. But she could sense the old man’s strong faith in this scrap metal. Rejecting it seemed a bit… insensitive.
Greyvern clasped her wrist, surprising her. She looked down at those old, twig-like fingers. They were strong!
“If—” he swallowed. ”If something has happened to him…” he stopped, shaking his head. “Nevermind.”
“That was almost twenty minutes, old man. I was afraid you’d bailed on me.” Geralt said, crossing his arms in front of him.
“No no, I wouldn’t do that. It took some time to search for something.” Greyvern said, with a pacifying smile.
“Hmph! Well, whatever. Let’s go right now. The lord has important guests to entertain tomorrow. He will have both of our heads on a platter if you mess up.” He looked Greyvern up and down. “Unlike you, I’m still too young to die.”
“Please, wait a moment,” Greyvern said. He stopped Bloom who was about to head out. “Aren’t you going to light a torch?”
“Yes, don’t you have one? There won’t be a moon today, so It will be really dark outside.”
Bloom looked up and drew a deep breath. She had seen the stars once while choosing her starting location, but still, she couldn’t get enough of them.
Her eyes fell to the darkening landscape outside. Pitch black colour had already swallowed deeper sections of the forest. The darkness... Suddenly, she felt afraid. She didn’t want to go outside anymore.
Greyvern’s concerned voice jolted her awake. Bloom tore her eyes away from the forest and looked at Greyvern’.
“Are you ok?” the old man asked, concern clear in his voice.
He was worried about her?
She nodded. Backing down wasn’t an option now. She had to stick to the decision she made. Besides, Marcus had helped her. Cowering inside the village while he could be in trouble, didn’t sit well with her. And should she be afraid of darkness?
Darkness is my home.
“ I need a torch, right?” she asked.
“Alright, that’s enough! Come on, old man.” Geralt held Greyvern’s hand and pulled him away.
“Take care, miss. Be careful out there,” Greyvern waved.
“Wait—!” before she could stop them, they had already disappeared beyond the houses.
“Great!” She threw up her hands. “Where do I find a torch now?” She looked around. The street lamps hanging from the posts, no one would mind if she took one, right?
[If you’re that desperate to get chased down for stealing, at least try something bigger.] Bloom could actually sense exasperation in the message. [There’s a torch in your starter pack, just open your inventory.]
“Huh? Inventory?” how would she open that?
Hmm. Would thinking work? The system always seemed to accept her intentions.
Inventory? Bloom thought, somewhat doubtful, and a black window opened in front of her.
“Yes!” Bloom pumped her fist. So exciting! She figured it out on her own! Take that—
She stopped the thought. No way was she gonna acknowledge some unknown voice inside her head. That would just feel… wrong!
[Oh, really now?]
Bloom glanced at the inventory window. The bow she had chosen, 100 arrows, 10 loaves of bread, 10 torches and 1 leather armour, each was inside a boxed space beside each other. She scrutinised each of them carefully. Just looking at them wasn’t enough. She needed the touch.
Bloom’s eyes widened as the foot and a half long piece of wood appeared in her hand out of nowhere
That was... odd. And cool!
She ran her fingers through the rough contours of the object, studying its texture under the streetlight. She didn’t know what a graphical construct made of a bunch of binaries should feel like, but this realistic? She didn’t expect that.
She extended the torch into the inventory window, and it vanished as suddenly as it appeared. Now, that was convenient! If only she could do this in real life too. She took it out again and stared at it. One problem still remained.
“How do I light this thing?”
Phantom like shadows accompanied Bloom, engaged in a mad dance around her. Their movements were erratic, mirroring the flame of the torch in her hand. A frightening sight, and...
I can’t get enough of it
No, this wasn’t the time to watch the scenery. Bloom ignored nightly the landscape and issued a mental command.
Like the inventory window before, another screen appeared before her. Like the map she saw during her spawn point selection, it was a hand-drawn one. She observed the red pin indicating her goal. She was quite close to it if the blinking green dot representing her was right. She closed the map and turned left, adjusting her course.
A few minutes later, she stepped out into a small glade.
“The herb garden!” she whispered. The small vine-like plants with small bunches of red flowers hanging from their branches were another wonder to her eyes. She looked around, but despite the aesthetic pleasure she got, there were only plants here.
Let’s begin searching then.
That was the only way Bloom could describe the animal blocking her path. After searching through the other places, she noticed a rocky place full of big and small hills that she hadn’t searched yet. That was where she found it.
[Red Tusked Brandish Boar (Female)
[I have only one advice for you. Run.]