[Scroll of Summon Ice Elemental]: Summons an elemental being of tremendous power. Lasts for a predetermined amount of time. 8000 points.
“Isn’t that the most expensive item in the whole store?” Alice asked Marcello, once again blown away by the thief with messy hair who just happened to have cleared the hard trial, pocketing a small fortune to the tune of 10262 points.
Well, technically 9862 points after he maxed out his purchases on health and mana potions.
“I suppose so,” Marcello replied. “The second highest price item I saw so far was a mana regeneration amulet going for 3000 points.”
“Yeah, I saw that one too,” Alice replied wistfully. “Mana regeneration is a real problem for mages and healers, so we can get all the help we can get. But still, three thousand points is just waaaay too expensive for me. But this scroll is just a temporary summon, and it’s single-use, and somehow it’s priced at eight thousand points?”
“Yeah,” Marcello nodded. At first he thought that the scroll was way too expensive to be worth it, but there were a few key factors that were swaying his direction towards purchasing it.
First, it was the only scroll in the entire library that did not have a prefix indicating that it was a tutorial scroll. It was a ‘legit’ scroll, not just a knock-off brand made for the tutorial.
Secondly, the scroll did not scale off of any of his stats, nor was it resisted by the enemy’s stats. This meant that the level disadvantage that he was bound to have against a powerful enemy would not reduce the power level of the scroll. He’d only use it against a particularly powerful enemy anyway.
The third key takeaway was the price of the scroll itself. With an 8000 point price tag, the wildly expensive nature of the scroll coupled with the fact that it was a temporary effect was a strong indication of its potency.
His fourth and quite possibly most convincing reason to buy was that he had a feeling it would come in handy sooner or later. Normally, Marcello wouldn’t think too much about those kinds of feelings, but ever since he received his inheritance Despair Intuition, he decided that he should start listening a bit more to his gut feelings.
“I’m gonna buy it,” he declared, much to the shock of Alice.
“What?” Alice exclaimed, nearly jumping out of her socks. In her perspective, he just stood there pondering for a few minutes and then decided to purchase the scroll on a whim because it was expensive. She looked at him pitifully with the eyes of a mother who was concerned that her daughter was getting addicted to luxury products.
Marcello sighed, not exactly in the mood to explain his reasoning to her.
Please confirm purchase of 1 Scroll of Summon Ice Elemental.
Purchase confirmed. 8000 points deducted from your balance. Your remaining balance is 1862 points.
After stuffing the expensive scroll into his inventory, Marcello headed over to the food vending machine, as Alice followed him like an angry mother rabbit. Thankfully, she didn’t seem to be vocally expressing her concern for his exorbitant spending tendencies.
Marcello and Alice walked out of the tutorial store with identical piping hot bowls of noodles made with a strange kind of meat that Alice identified as Staghorn meat, whatever the hell that was. Not like a grumbling stomach could really complain. They ate while sitting somewhere away from the commotion that revolved around the tutorial store.
“Different cuisines on earth used to feel so different from each other,” Alice remarked while taking a bite into a long scallion. “This imitation of human cuisine really just makes me realize that all our food was relatively similar compared to wherever the hell this chef came from.”
Marcello had to agree. “Honestly, it doesn’t taste half bad, but it just doesn’t taste like noodles or beef.”
“I know, right?” Alice remarked. “The noodles are way too bouncy to be made of flour. They actually taste great. Just strange…”
They continued to share some idle chit-chat about their lives over food. Combat really was an appetite whetter, and the strange bouncy noodles disappeared into their stomachs much faster than either of them would have expected.
Marcello noticed a group of initiates trying to pry open the white door, but it didn’t budge as if it were locked.
“What’s the deal with that?” he asked.
“Ah,” Alice replied. “Since I came in a bit earlier than you did, I heard an announcement explaining that. Both doors are locked for a bit to let people catch up. The timer for lifting the lockdown is over there, by the wall.”
Alice pointed at the hexagonal tiles above the two doors. She was right, there was a countdown display spanning through three of the tiles horizontally.
Lockdown will be lifted in 00:17:21.
“Look, someone’s coming out of the black room!” an archer shouted.
A bloodied Agnis and his crazy redheaded girlfriend stepped out of black door connected to area 1, with three other survivors. All of them looked beaten down and worse for wear, and one of the mages was missing an arm. His mage’s robe had a piece of fabric torn out from it, which he used to tie around his left shoulder stump so he didn’t bleed out.
The hulking man walked towards the tutorial store and grabbed an unsuspecting middle aged man.
“You. Go buy me some food,” Agnis ordered, looking down at the man.
The man seemed to be lost for words, surprised and a bit scared of the musclehead with a skull tattoo on his bicep.
Agnis grabbed his shoulders with his bloody hands and kneed the man in the gut, knocking the wind out of him, and then punched his face with his massive ham fist. The middle aged man’s nose was broken instantly, blood pouring out of his nose.
“You hear me? Get me food,” demanded Agnis. Seeing that there was still no response, Agnis punched him in the jaw, then slammed his fist into the man’s eye so hard that it began to swell up and form a black and blue impression.
“Okay, I’ll do it!” the middle aged man stammered, trying to stem the bleeding from his nose and cover his swollen eye.
Agnis threw the man to the ground, and shouted. “Go!”
The middle aged man scurried up onto his feet and ran to the tutorial store to fetch food for the violent hulking warrior.
“Daphne,” Agnis said, addressing his crazy redheaded girlfriend. “Go find us some more teammates.”
“Of course Agnis!” chimed the redhead while sticking her pierced tongue out. “We need five replacements now. It’s a shame that the hobgoblin got them all, I kinda liked them!” Her tongue traced against her lips, wetting them.
Alice tugged on Marcello’s arm as Daphne began to approach in their direction. “Let’s get out of here,” she said quietly.
“Yeah.” He didn’t want any trouble right now. Especially since he just scanned Agnis with Identify, and found that he was level 5, higher level than even himself. Daphne was level 4.
They weren’t the only ones who got the idea to get up and scram. People got up and moved anywhere Daphne or Agnis went, although Agnis managed to snag a few people and beat them into submission. Maybe that’s how he got his teammates last time, Marcello thought.
While the white door linked to area 1 constantly had people coming out in groups of mostly eight to ten survivors, the black door was very silent. But after a few more minutes, it opened. A single survivor limped out of the room, his body cut up horribly by machetes. He limped over to the tutorial store without a word.
“Alright, we’re here,” Marcello said, having finally moved far enough away from Agnis and Daphne to feel comfortable. He and Alice had arrived at the new black door leading to area 3, with the same HARD difficulty written in all caps above the door. Hanging around it was the old gang again, even Nolan who was just a second away from fleeing during their last fight.
Emma crossed her arms and stared daggers at the new blonde healer walking besides Marcello. “Who the hell are you?” asked the sleek black haired highschool girl in a school blazer, plaid skirt and high socks who walked straight up towards Alice until her nose was pointing up at Alice’s face about a few inches away from her face. The dark navy school blazer was a new addition to her look. She wore an intense scowl, her brows furrowed fiercely.
“Her name’s Alice, and she’s a healer. She wanted to join the team,” Marcello interjected. “And I accepted. We need all the manpower we can get.”
A lean blonde gangster’s face lit up with amusement, just barely holding back tears of laughter as he looked between Emma and Alice.
Emma’s scowl deepened, her eyes darting up and down Alice’s body before turning her head away with a humph.
“Bahahahahahaha!!!!” Troy whooped with laughter, unable to hold it back anymore. “What the hell were you thinking dude, bringing another girl here?”
He looked at the new blonde healer while wiping the tears of laughter out of his eyes, his knuckle rubbing around the piercing in his eyebrow. “You better watch out, gal. Let your attention slip for a second in the dungeon and little miss Emma here is gonna blast a fucking hole in your back for stealing her man. Oh, this is too good… ahahahaha!”
Even the stoic Michael cracked a smile. “Apparently the reason why I suffer through this kind of hell-like game of death is to get a front row seat to the world’s most morbidly entertaining cat fight.”
Alice looked around nervously, confused and a bit scared at what kind of mess she just walked into. But it was far too late to leave now.
Michael began speaking in a mock nature documentary voice, his thick rim glasses riding up and down his nose. “The clueless blonde kitten wanders too far for her own good. Little does she know, she has encroached upon the territory of a ruthless predator, the black cat. Despite the black cat’s diminutive size, her ferocity is unmatched by even a lion–”
“Diminutive size?” Emma repeated, her mouth twitching in anger. A deadly fake smile appeared on her face, as her bloodlust flared up. “How about I knock a few inches off your legs so you can experience what diminutive in size really means, hmm?” A magic circle appeared in front of her hand, before disappearing after Michael waved his arms frantically pleading that he was joking. The girl’s threat to blow his legs off was not a joke.
Marcello couldn’t help but laugh, despite the terrified look on Alice’s face. He had accepted long ago that this dysfunctional gang was way too far gone off the deep end to make normal. He could only accept them for the lunatics that they were, and when he thought about it that way, Emma casually almost killing Michael over a joke was quite amusing.
Lockdown will be lifted in 00:05:21.
Hyena-like howls of whooping laughter came from the area around the black door, mostly from Troy who was way too loud for his own good, as the seconds to lockdown disengagement ticked down. Halfway across the dome from Troy and pals, Agnis twisted the arm off of a screaming old woman that defied him, then beat her until one of her teeth fell out. The dome was filled with incomprehensible screams and jeers as rationality took a back seat for hysteria.
Half a block away from Agnis’s rampage, a group of initiates ganged up on a smaller group and were now attacking them with weapons drawn. An initiate from the smaller group was shot and killed by an arrow from an archer from the bigger group before the smaller group decided to surrender.
It was just the second area, and humans were already killing each other for no reason. But all of that ceased when a familiar voice began to speak from the loudspeakers above.
Troy and his annoying ass hyena laugh, Agnis and his murder prone hamfists, the group that just killed a guy… everyone fell silent and listened to the tutorial guide speak.
Welcome to area two, earthling initiates. I am your tutorial guide, and I will be explaining the details and rules for the second zone.
Once again, you have a choice between the white door which represents the EASY challenge, and the black door which represents the HARD challenge. For the second zone, the estimated survival rate for the EASY challenge is 50%. The estimated survival rate for the HARD challenge is 20%.
Successfully clearing the second trial will bring you to the third and final zone, where you will be released into the FOREST for the final and longest phase of the tutorial. Additional details will be provided when you arrive at the third zone preparation area for the forest.
You may stay in this area for up to fifteen hours. After this time is up, you will no longer be able to purchase items from the tutorial shop. This includes food. Please make your way to either the white or the black door before your fifteen hour grace period is over.
Special notice: Unused [Exit Passes] brought to the third stage will be converted to 100 points.
Good luck, initiates. Your fifteen hour timer starts now.
Area 2 closed in 14:59:59
“Alright you crazy motherfuckers, are you ready for round two?” Troy said with a wild grin, his gums and neck tattoos showing rather prominently.
Sarah sighed. “This time it’s a twenty percent estimated survival rate for the black door. Are we sure we want to do this?”
Nolan piped up. “I think it will be fine as long as we stay near the exit for as long as possible. As long as we have our [Exit Passes], we can always retreat.”
“Fuckin’ coward, always looking for a way out aren’t you?” taunted Troy as he approached Nolan and elbowed him in the chest. “If you’re gonna be a bitch, why don’t you just go fuck right off to the white door, huh?”
Nolan gulped visibly with his back against the wall, the timid archer clearly uncomfortable with the blonde gangster invading into his personal space. “Unfortunately, I can’t do that. I have my own reasons to go through the black door, and you won’t scare me off from trying.”
Troy took a step back and spit at Nolan’s feet. “Even a coward’s got a little backbone.”
At that, Michael let out a slight chuckle. “You’d go after him but not for me? Surely you remember that I also was one step out the door in that last fight with my [Exit Pass].”
Troy looked at Michael dispassionately. “Nolan’s just a coward. I’ve met a lot of them in my life before. But you, Michael? You’re not a coward, you’re a snake. People like you are not even worth going after.”