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A note from Eldwurm

Massive rewrite. New Chapter. 19/04/21

Max scanned this man known as Raj. He wore simple clothes, a hoodie and a pair of jeans. It was like your typical college look, except for his shoes. Dark brown leather boots and from what he was seeing, he was sure that it was more than just leather. Scales?

“Um, dude?” Raj spoke. “I think your friend needs help.” Max turned to Gene. She was bleeding and obviously after that freak accident, she needed medical help. He threw away the branch to the ground and kept his eyes on Raj.

“We need to get her to the hospital.” Max carried her in his arms. “I’ve got a better alternative. Follow me,” Raj smiled and sprinted away. His feet were light and there was barely any sound. Only the slight noise of a wind passing was all that Max heard.

He’s fast. He chased after Raj and even with his speed, he couldn’t catch up. But something else bothered him more. He’s silent, too silent. Tree branches snapped under his feet with their sounds rumbling in his ears. But the man who ran in front of him was different. Tree branches snapped but there was no sound, not even a decibel. He could only infer one thing from what he saw. He has a higher level. Rather than being cautious, he smiled. It seems I’m on the right path. From the way he saw it, the message he got from Discord was not a scam.

The sounds of battle were near. Max could hear the loud growls of a beast. He went past the road where the pickup truck fell into an accident. He noticed the cracks on the road along with huge paw prints. Whatever knocked them down, was definitely big. Bigger than the wolf.

He followed the noise as Raj was no longer in sight. The screams and shouts of the people probably drew the light feet man into battle. Max hiked an uphill and as he stood on the top, his gaze brought upon the low ground. Broken trees scattered on the land as a group of people circled a rampaging beast.

No wonder he calls it a rhino. The beast was an animal with a massive girth. It stood on all four of its thick log-like legs. Its beige hide thicker than a bulletproof vest. But its main trait was on its head. Not one, not two, but a head full of horns. It looked like it wore a spiky helmet.

“Raj! Where the fuck did you go?” A man in a tight tee with camo pants questioned Raj. He held a shield in his left hand while his right grasped on an uzi. But before he could hear Raj’s answer, the rhino charged for an assault. “Ugh,” he gritted through his teeth and buckled down with his shield. He was pushed by the sheer strength of the beast.

“Fucking help me here!” he shouted. Raj snuck from the flank and stood right beside the rhino’s head. The blade of his dagger shined but rather than using his dagger, he swapped it with something beneath his hoodie. A desert eagle laid in his hand and he aimed it right at the sweet spot. Raj pulled the trigger and bullets went piercing right through the eye of the rhino.

The rhino growled in pain and yanked its head upwards. “Fuck!” the man with the shield was thrown in the air and slammed right into a branch. The ground quaked as the rhino stomped with its massive forelegs. The people faltered on their feet and the rhino seized its chance. It fled and rammed right through a tree as it carved its own path.

“Chase it!” the shield man shouted as he got up with leaves stuck on his hair and clothes. Three people went off and chased down the fleeing beast. Meanwhile, Raj looked back and raced to where Max stood. “Come, you’ve got to meet my friends. He can help her,” Raj said, glancing at the unconscious Gene.

Max was about to say something but that slippery man went off yet again. Well, that’s annoying. He tracked down the hill and approached Raj’s company.

The shield man got up, wincing in pain. “Troy!” he shouted a name. A dude with a revolver moved closer. He pulled down his mask and took off his hood. His dreadlocks unfurled as Troy looked down at the shield man. He aided shield man to stand. “Where you hurt?” he asked.

Shield man let out a groan. “Don’t know, just heal me up,” said shield man. “Alright, man.” Troy touched shield man on the back and his hand glowed. “Guys.” Raj came out of nowhere. “Freaking Haley’s Comet!” Shield man was surprised and so did Troy. “Like for the thousand times Raj, don’t sneak up on me like that. You almost gave me a heart attack,” said the shield man with his hand on his heaving chest. Troy, on the other hand, was already a few feet away, hiding behind a tree. The gun-slinging healer was fast on his feet and didn’t think twice of leaving the patient he was healing behind. Shield man turned to Troy. “Did you just ditch me? Again?”

“Nah, man… I’m just securing the perimeter.” Troy looked around, pointing things out randomly. “What nonsense are you talking about? Come over here and fucking heal me,” said Shieldman.

“Um, Chris. I kind of brought these people.” Raj’s eyes were shifting, avoiding Chris’s blue eyes. “What people?” Chris asked and his answer came. Max approached them and Chris raised up his uzi. “Don’t take another step if you don’t want a bullet in your body,” Chris warned. Max glared at Raj and Raj just scratched his head. “Raj said you guys can help her,” he glanced at Gene and the others followed suit.

“Raj, who the fuck are them?” Chris asked. “They’re the people who got thrown off by the rhino,” Raj said. “You mean the pickup truck?”

“Yea, the pickup truck,” Raj replied. “Gosh, you mean them?” Chris was shocked. “Yea… and I think it would be better if you aim the minigun somewhere else… I mean not at their faces,” Raj said.

“Raj, you should point that out first before I did something rude.” Chris reprimanded Raj as he turned back to Max. “Sorry bout that.” Chris holstered back his uzi and reached out for a handshake. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t know you guys would still be alive after being hit like that,” Chris apologized.

“Can we shake hands later, my friend needs help here,” Max said. “Oh, yeah. Sure. Sorry, a force of habit. A good habit my father taught me. Always shake hands and smile when you greet a person.” Chris hung his hands on his hips as he glanced at Gene. “Is she okay? She’s bleeding quite a lot at the head,” he asked.

“I don’t know but I prefer her not dead,” Max said and gave his own message through his cold stone stare. “Don’t worry, we got you cover.” Chris turned and frowned seeing Troy still hiding behind the tree. “Get your ass over here! Someone’s life is at stake here!”

Troy didn’t budge at all from where he was hiding. “Is it safe?” His voice rang. “Of course! Now come over here!” they traded shouts and to Max, it was quite an earful. “Are they not a threat?!” Troy hollered. “Get your ass over here before I drag you with force!” Raj walked closer beside Max and whispered, “don’t mind them, they’re always weird like that.”

Max looked at Raj in disbelief. Looks who’s talking. To him, Raj wasn’t that any different from the shouting two. In Max’s eyes, this bunch was a pretty strange combination. “So who needs help?” Troy asked. After a long period of shouting at each other, Chris managed to convince Troy.

“Put her down,” Troy said. Max gently lay her on the ground. He could hear still breathing, gasping for air, shallow but still alive. “She a normie?” Troy asked.

Raj nodded. “Good.” Troy placed his hand over her head and concentrated on the feel. His eyes closed and he uttered a single word, “heal.” A subtle glow encapsulated Gene before it vanished a second later.

Max leaned closer to Raj. “Why did he ask whether she’s a normie or not?” Raj responded back, “normie has less vitality so the mana expenditure for heal won’t cost much.”

“I see.” Max nodded and glanced back to Gene. The color on her face returned and her chest moved normally. “She’s good,” said Troy. “You don’t have to worry about your girlfriend. But if I were you, I’ll refrain from tapping that ass for the night. She needs adequate rest.” A rather strange way of giving advice but Max took it in a good way.

Chris, on the other hand, was shaking his head. “Don’t mind him,” he said to Max. “None was taken,” Max replied. “Good, I think Raj better-” Chris was cut off by the voice coming from the radio. “Chris, we got that sound of a… over.”

Everyone paid attention to the radio. Chris pressed the button and spoke, “the line isn’t clear, please repeat what you said, over.” They all waited in silence. “We got that son of a bitch, we took them down! Yeehaa!”

They were cries of celebration on the other side of the radio and it was noisy. “Guys, what did I tell you? You need to end it with over. It’s basic rules, they exist for a good reason,” Chris said. But he didn’t get a response from the radio.

Okay, this Chris seems bad news. Max saw how uptight Chris could be and he feared for the future. “Fuck, the signal is probably too weak,” said Chris. No, I think they just ignore you. He kept that comment to himself.

“They kill it. So can we go home now?” Raj asked. “True, we clear our objective and we protect the safety of Denville. But…” Chris turned his eyes at Max. “What about you? Your girlfriend is out of danger, if you want to get back to Denville, I can ask Raj to escort you.”

“No, it’s fine. I’m heading to Tourne Park,” Max said. The name perked everyone's attention. The three turned wary yet still kept themselves calm. Oh, I think I just trigger them. Max noticed the look in their eyes. “What business you do have in Tourne Park?” Chris questioned, staring deep into Max’s eyes.

“I came to find Joanne. There’s something I need from her,” Max said. Much to his surprise, the name Joanne softened the intents in their eyes. “So you’re one of us…” Chris said and reached out for a handshake. Max didn’t leave Chris’s hand hanging. “That’s a relief,” Chris said. “Come on, let’s get you to Tourne Park. I’ll promise you will love it.”

With Chris’s invitation, Max followed these three as they made their way to Tourne Park. They ran with Raj and Troy faster than the other two. I assume those two heavily invest in Agility. For Raj, I don’t think it’s a problem, but for Troy, he must be a healer or something considering that healing skill of his. I’m assuming these people already gained their own classes.

“Don’t mind them. They like showing off their speed,” Chris said. Max eyed Chris and the man flexed his bicep. “Real men should rely on Strength.” Chris flashed a smile, putting a thumbs up.

Max looked away and raised his eyebrows. Yup, he’s definitely a muscle-head. They ran through the woods and after an hour, they reached a clearing. It was a parking ground for the park and they emerged from a different side.

“Over here,” Chris waved his hand and Max followed. They went deeper until they reached a lake. A brief glance and he saw nothing that resembled a home.

“Home sweet home,” said Chris. “You think they’ll bring back the rhino? I kind of want to try rhino meat,” said Raj. Troy showed a disgusted face as he crouched down and pulled something underneath a stack of leaves. Metal cranked and Max behold upon the sight of an entrance. “A bunker?”

“It’s pretty cool,” said Raj with a grin. “The first of us found it and built a guild,” said Chris. “Guild?” Max was confused. “Oh, sorry. It’s a jargon we use when we larping, the guild is kinda like an organization that handles things related with quest and buying loots and whatever-”

“Bro,” Troy called out to Chris. “Spare the dude, he don’t do larping.” With a little aid from Troy, Max got out of the situation. “Sorry bout that. You know, I get passionate easily. Anyway, welcome to Tourne Guild.”

Max stepped into the bunker as the lights were bright underground. He followed them and reached a spacious area. He was dumbfounded and saw more than a dozen people down here. If he assumed it right then the numbers might not be far from reaching a hundred.

“That was wild, right?” A man greeted them with a bottle in his hand. “Man, my party had a tough time dealing with that rhino. Bullets ain’t do anything to them. Not until Ackerman shot it in the eye with that big-ass sniper she has… hmm? Who’s the dude carrying the woman?”

“A newbie. He said he wants to meet Joanne,” Chris said. “Hoho, fresh meat,” said the man as he chugged down the bottle. He stared at Max with hidden intention. “The parties are going to get crazy about this,” the man glanced at Chris.

Chris kept his silence and walked away. “I’m Johnny, a member of Red Wing. Not to brag, but we’re kinda among the top rank in the guild.”

“Nice to see you too,” Max said and just stood there, staring in silence.“Well, I gave it a shot. Just don’t forget about the Red Wing when the time comes,” said Johnny. “Look around, there might be something you like at the market and if you’re short of cash, we Red Wing won’t mind lending you some.” Johnny left leaving Max to his freedom. That’s some proactive headhunting and did he said market? The thought of a marketplace piqued his interest.

“Hey.” A voice made Max jumped on the spot. He turned and saw Raj. Shit, he did it again. This time, my Chakra Sense didn’t even detect him. “Don’t do that again,” Max said.

“Oh… sorry.” Raj didn’t look like he was sorry. “Anyway, there’s a bed down at the medic bay. I think you would prefer putting your friend on a bed than carrying her around.”

“That I can agree with.” Raj led Max to the medic bay. Again, he noticed Raj’s silent step. It was scary how elusive this man was. The urge to get stronger intensified. He didn’t want to get stab from the back that easily.

“Geez,” someone in charge of the medic bay jumped in her seat, surprised by Raj that came out of nowhere. She glared at Raj. “You do that again, and I won’t hesitate to stab you Raj, and I won’t feel guilty about it.”

“There’s a patient. She had an accident on the road,” said Raj. “Who?” she looked at the door and saw Max. She rushed and prepared to do something about it. “Is she hurt? Is there any broken bone? Any open wounds?” A flurry of questions came out from the person in charge of the medic bay. “Um, she’s fine, miss. Troy had already healed her,” Max said.

“What?” the woman turned over to Raj and he was gone. He was sneaky like a rat. “Ugh, that Raj. He could have told me that it wasn’t an emergency,” she said. “Hi, but is this a bad time?” Max asked.

“No, no. Come in,” she invited him in and led them to an empty bed. “You can put her down here,” she said. Max did what he was told and lay Gene gently on the bed. “I’ve never seen you and her before, so tell me what happened?”

Max reiterated in a concise story, enough for the woman to understand. “You had it rough,” she said. “Well, you can let her rest here. I’ll explain to her what happened.” Max told her that Gene wasn’t one of them and she was kind enough to put a safety net for Gene.

“I’m Piper, the resident doctor here,” Piper introduced herself. They shook hands and Max wondered. “I’m Max and do you mean, you’re a real doctor?”

“Oh, I was. And now I’m just an acolyte, curing people with a touch of my hand.” There was a hint of sarcasm behind her words and Max ignored it. “I’ll be back later.” He said his goodbye and went back to the spacious area. For a bunker, it was quite big with a high ceiling. Come to think of it, this whole place seems newly built.

He reached the marketplace since it was the noisiest part of the guild. People put up their own stall, and Max did a quick look around. His Chakra Sense was tingling and his feet fleeted away until he arrived in front of a stall. The dozing stall owner woke up and greeted him. “Hi, what can I get for you?”

But Max was deaf to his words as his eyes were blinking with stars. I hit the jackpot! On top of a counter, nail size gems numbered more than a dozen. These are beast cores, I can definitely use them for training. The thought of buying jade vanished instantly after what he saw in this place. He did the right thing with the Discord chat and he reaped his reward, well he was about to.

“How much?” He asked with a wide smile.

 

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Eldwurm

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