Inside the courtyard of the keep npc soldiers and players were standing around in their groups, checking over their equipment and discussing travel formations, there was still a few hours before they would move out, the expedition was rather small for what it was, consisting of 50 npc soldiers not including the captain and few other commanding soldiers and a handful of support npcs such as cooks and the like, it turned out there was a limit of 50 players that could join the expedition, Ren was currently sitting quietly and nervously as part of a panel with four other certain players that were interviewing each player that wished to join the expedition.
“Name, class and level.” Said the man sitting in the middle of the panel, he was dressed in his full silver plate armor that held gold trimmings, his silken black hair neatly framing his face.
“Cyrus, warrior, level 60.”
Tristan aka the Heroic Prince looked to Cyrus and nodded. “Alright, join the other fighters over there, you’re not in yet but you’re a higher level than most of the others, were still sorting out numbers though.” Cyrus seemed excited by his words and happily strode over with the other fighters and began to chat with them.
This had been going on for a while now and already there were more than 100 players in the ‘maybe’ group within the court yard waiting to hear the final results on the players that would be joining the expedition.
Ren was seated on the far end of the panel out of the way, he looked down along the row curiously at the other four, this was his first time seeing them aside from Tristan, it had turned out that the expedition was actually a combined quest that involved the five of them together and would only activate once they each met specific requirements, Ren didn’t know what the others did to meet those requirements but he guessed his was reaching intermediate with smithing and repair, since the letter arrived for Donan after he reached intermediate smithing, though since the quest seemed to involve him repairing equipment he thought that intermediate repair was a requirement as well.
When Ren had first arrived Tristan of course had confronted him, blaming him for what happened at Donan’s workshop and it seemed at first that the other three were in agreement with him until they found out the real story behind it which Tristan had twisted to make Ren out to be the bad guy, the other three didn’t seem all that bad Ren thought, they had their quirks but they weren’t nearly as stuck up as Tristan.
Beside Ren was the blacked hooded player that until not long ago had revealed quietly to Ren that his name was Talon and that his class was Shadow Weaver, turned out he was actually a rather shy and quiet person and was happy to take a stealth type class and even gave a small apology to Ren for leaving him with the crafter class as his only choice but Ren just smiled and told him that he was enjoying the class immensely so far.
Looking back to the applicants the last one to apply was below the level limit they had set which was 40, the player rather sulkily left the keep and Tristan stood up. “Ok, that’s all of them you’ve all got your lists lets go pick our teams.”
When Ren arrived the other four had been in a debate over what numbers of each class type they should pick from the players, Tristan simply wanted to take the 50 that were of the highest level regardless of their class, while the other had different ideas, wanting to ensure that there was a mix of fighters, mages and clerics, though they still could not agree on the specific amount so Ren had chimed in with a suggestion that since there were five of them and they could take 50 players that they each pick 10 players, these 10 would be the teams for the five of them.
Thankfully they each saw the merit in this, even Tristan agreed, control and coordinating 50 players as a single group would be to hard so they would each pick their own team of 10. After some further inquiring Ren leaned that they each also had the requirement to ensure the safety of the soldiers, and of course none of them actually wanted to have the soldiers take an active role in the hunts because of this, it was then Tristan’s ‘brilliant’ idea that one team should stay back with the soldiers while the other four went and explored. Ren frowned as all four looked to him, he looked to Talon who had seemed like a nice enough guy, though only able to see his eyes under the ninja like face wrap he now wore his eyes held an apologetic stare.
“He is right… someone needs to stay with the soldiers in case something happens… and… you’ll need time to work on their gear as well wont you?” Talon spoke softly and apologetically, he didn’t have the nerve to go against Tristan.
Tristan then spoke up again. “And since you’ll be getting 50 soldiers in your team you can spare at least four from your ten for us to have one more in each of our teams, six would be more than enough to look after the soldiers.”
Lara spoke in for the first time now. “But what if something does happen? 6 won’t be enough to hold back some of the higher level monsters that might be there.”
Tristan scoffed. “We’ll be killing them all before they even get to the soldiers anyway, unless one of you lot think you won’t be able to hold off the monsters? Maybe you should take Ren’s place instead.” Ren frowned at this as he so openly threatened them and they seemed to accept it so easily.
“Just what is your problem!?” Ren cried out finally cracking from Tristan’s attitude. “Acting like you have control of everything and everyone, I’m taking my ten and I’ll take care of the soldiers because your too damn lazy to but I’ll be dammed if I’m going to sit around and just twiddle my thumbs while you prance about like your king of the god damn world, I bet you already think everything in the place were going to rightfully belongs to you don’t you and that were simply here to help you get it!” Ren having said his piece stormed off to pick his team members while muttering under his breath leaving Tristan and the other three with stunned surprise and even some admiration on the faces, except of course for Tristan who was now fuming as Ren turned and stormed away from them.
Ren spent the next hour speaking with various players that he’d taken an interest in, for the most part he tried to stay away from recruiting any girls for various reasons, mainly due to the fact that each time he considered asking one they would look at him and seem to almost drool, their eyes turning to that of a hungry predator. For the most part though each person he spoke to seemed happy to meet him since he was one of the five contest winners and was bombarded with questions about his class, most thought that his was pretty cool but at the same time they didn’t hold any envy or jealousy towards him since the trade off of him being able to learn all crafts was that he couldn’t fight.
Some of the ones he tried to recruit seemed hesitant at first once he explained that he would just be leeching exp from them during fights, but once he offered that in return he would repair their gear for free and even try to add some minor enchantments to their equipment they were eager to join. In the end Ren ended up with his team of ten which consisted of three healer types, a battle priest and a cleric and a druid. Two fighter types, a samurai and a shield knight, two mages, an ice mage and a fire mage, and finally two stealth types a scout and a normal thief.
For the last person on his team he picked a person that simply seemed interesting to him more than as a strategic choice, a man that seemed to have a hidden class called ‘BowSlinger’ as one could imagine it was a play on the western style ‘gunslinger’ but instead of guns he was able to wield a pair of small crossbows that were attached to his wrist bracers, he seemed to live and breathe the ‘western’ style as he wore a tanned brown coat and cowboy hat, he also wore a pair of whips and lasso on his hips, Ren made a guess that the man was a rancher in real life perhaps or simply really liked cowboys.
“Well.. repairin me gear is all well and good son but doin that is just as much to your own benefit as it is to mine since it means I can keep fightin and sendin exp yer way.” The cowboy spoke to Ren, it turned out that he had of course taken the name Clint.
“I’m not sure what else I could offer you then Clint, I can make some minor enchantments on your gear as well… I would offer to make you something if you wished but I don’t think I’ll have any access to a forge while we travel.”
Clint nodded and thought for a moment. “Well, some enchantments would certainly be handy on some o me gear, but what I’d really like is this.” He held up his arm to show Ren the crossbow attached to his wrist. “Ye see, I got these when I took this class, there a unique weapon to my class only and that means its dang hard to come across a better set o them, now, seein as ya said you can be learning every craft with that class o yours I was wondering if you’d be willing to try and make me a new set o these that will match me level, course I’d be willing to pay for that.”
Ren blinked and looked over the weapon curiously, the bolts seemed to be fed to the bow from a kind of clip that attached along the underside of the bracer letting about six shots be made before having to attach a new clip. Ren asked if he could remove it and let him take a better look to which Clint nodded and took the bow bracer off and handed to him, Ren then inspected it more closely, moving and twisting each part to see what kind of pieces made it all work.
You’ve inspected a rare ‘gadget’ weapon type
Quick Shot Bow Bracer
This weapon made by an unknown weapon smith, designed it for quick rapid shots, the design apparently was based from a weapon that the smith was told about from a traveller from another world.
The plans for this weapon have been added to your crafting list
For learning the plans to a rare weapon you’ve gained the following
Ren blinked at the pop up and handed the bracer back to Clint with a nod. “Seems I can make it, I learned the blueprint for it as I inspected it just then, but I won’t know if I have the right skills to make it till I get to a forge, I think I’m going to need to learn some wood working or bow craft before I can make it.
This was still good news to Clint and he instantly sent Ren a friend request which Ren accepted with a smile. “Well, if you be able to make me some better ones eventually then you’ve got yourself the only cowboy on this continent as yer friend for life.” He grinned and shook Ren’s hand.
With everyone having picked their teams those that weren’t picked left the keep with grumbles and mutters, a few tried to start up arguments about being higher levels than others that were picked but Ren didn’t pick his team for their levels, he picked the ones he thought would work well together and that would get along, after if they couldn’t work together as a group they would only get in each other’s way there levels being useless then.
Tristan had a scowl on his face aimed at Ren as he moved to join the other four, Eric the lord of Aurora stepped forward to make an announcement. “Soldiers of Aurora! It makes me proud to see you standing here before me, ready to serve your people, to fight for them and lay down your lives for them. Our mages have felt the presence of a dark energy emanating from an ancient cave system, what lies within we don’t know, only having discovered the entrance due to this dark energy leading us to it. Whatever it is knows we’re coming, I put out the call for the best able bodied men and women the city of Aurora could offer and you stepped forward without hesitation to face this threat. I won’t wish you luck, because I know you will return victorious! Aurora Expedition Squad! It is time to sally forth!”
Will you join the
Aurora Expedition Squad
Ren nodded without hesitation along with everyone else that was present “Yes.”
You’ve joined the
Aurora Expedition Squad
An expedition squad is larger than a normal party, you will share exp with players and associated npcs that are within a 100 meter radius and receive 20% of the exp from squad members outside 100 meters.
Contribution points are awarded based on the performance of each person
Including but not limited to
Each player’s individual assistance in each kill
Dealing the most damage or dealing the killing blow to an enemy
For healing allies
For shielding allies
For assistance performed outside of battles
Bonus points will be awarded for each Aurora soldier brought back alive
Bonus points will be awarded if the Aurora soldier’s levels are increased when they return
(Penalties will be incurred for hindering/harming allies or letting the Aurora soldiers die)
Awards will be given according to the number of contribution points earned during the expedition with a bonus reward to the top 3 contributors
The information seemed easy enough to understand though Ren didn’t think he’d be able to earn many contribution points. His thoughts were pulled back into line as a cheer went up from the soldiers at Eric’s speech, the captain Ren had briefly met before now stepped forward and mounted his horse. “Men! Gather your things, we march!”
The solders quickly lined up into a marching order and the players were guided into line behind them, the soldiers would leave first as they were the visual representation of the city where as the players were seen more as volunteers or mercenaries, they passed through the streets in a reasonably orderly fashion as they followed behind the soldiers, Ren and the other four led their teams in their march. Small groups of npcs would peek out of their homes and wave or give cheers, flowers were tossed at their feet, meanwhile players scampered to get out of the way of the marching troupe only to then watch them leave the through the city gates with envy of the quest they were embarking on.
The trip to the dungeons location alone would take a couple day in game so Ren took the chance to start enchanting the soldiers gear before they got into any heavy fighting, being only at beginner rank with his enchanting the most he was able to add to a weapon was a 1-4 additional element damage and a +2 def to armours, but the soldiers seemed happy enough even with this as did the players in his team, more so once he told them that once his skill increase he’d replace the enchantments with stronger ones as he was able to make them.
Once word got around among the players of the other teams they were also lining up to get some enchantments off Ren, He explained to them his situation of being unable to participate in any fights and how that was why his own team was getting free enchantments, members of the other teams though would have to pay, but, Ren didn’t want money, he could make that easily enough with enchanting once they got back to the city so he offered an exchange.
The players would bring him any material and junk item drops that he could practice his skills on in exchange for his enchantments and subsequent upgrades during the expedition. Most seemed happy enough with the deal, not only would they get free enchantments but be able to offload their junk drops which would normally be worth peanuts back in the city shops. In the end three of the other team leaders also approached Ren and made the same deal with him, of course Tristan just glared at him at the popularity he’d gained all of a sudden.
As they travelled the players of course would spread out in small groups to hunt the local monsters off the beaten path whenever the soldiers stopped for a break, this caused a small influx of exp to head Ren’s way and finally he received a notice he was starting to think he’d never get.
You have gained 1 Level!
10 Stat points available
Hidden class ability revealed!
Ren let out a whoop of joy and leaped into the air when he got the level, the blade he’d been enchanting slipping from his hands and nearly hitting a player that was eating by the fire. “Eak! Sorry!” With a sheepish grin Ren dashed over and quickly retrieved the sword and finished enchanting it before returning it to its owner then settled down to look over his new information. “Show info on class abilities.”
Some classes have hidden abilities or traits that can be unlocked, these abilities are specific to the class and have no rank or level
Some classes have hidden abilities that are already in effect but have no information about them available until certain conditions are met
Ren tilted his head curiously. “Show Artificer abilities.”
Slow and steady
Slow and steady increases the exp required to level up by 100% and reduces exp gained by 20%
When levelling 10 stat points will be gained instead of 5
Skills gain exp 50% faster
Ren’s jaw dropped, no wonder he took so long to level! He read over the ability carefully again and again, as his initial shock wore down he came to realise this was actually a pretty good deal for a crafting class, for a class that didn’t focus on combat but skills this he figured was a kind of balancing ability to even out that he wouldn’t be grinding on monsters more then he would be grinding on his crafting skills, he had been thinking that his skill gains were a little quicker than others.
“Something got you pickled Ren?” Clint walked over once he saw Ren gaping over something that was before his eyes but he couldn’t see.
Ren just nodded lightly. “Yeah… I got my first level…”
Clint blinked. “You’ve only just gotten level 2!?”
His outburst turned quite a few heads among the players and a lot of mutters and whispered conversations began. “Seriously he’s only level 2? How did he get in on this quest?”
“He’s one of the competition winners man, this is some group quest between the five of them.”
“Really? But it’s still a B rank quest.”
“Apparently he won’t be fighting, his role is support, he’ll be fixing our gear and stuff man, didn’t you get that sweet lightning enchantment on your sword from him?”
“Yeah, but you mean that’s all he’s gotta do the entire trip? His crafting skills must be pretty good.”
“Yeah man, I overheard some others talking, they said he’s got intermediate repair skill, he can fix our stuff without reducing the durability.”
Everyone was surprised but since Ren had already proven his usefulness with the enchantments no one had any complaints about his lack of levels. The rest of the trip moved on without event except for one time when a player came to Ren holding a shining silver sword inlaid with gold, Ren looked at the player then back at the sword. “If he wants an enchantment then he can come ask himself, politely.” The player seemed to gulp as he headed back to the swords true owner with bad news.
They finally arrived at the dungeon entrance and setup camp for the night deciding they would enter at dawn after a good night’s sleep, several soldiers were posted at the dungeon entrance though to make sure no one tried to sneak in without their teams, this brought a few grumbles from some players. Most logged out at this time to get something to eat or rest for a bit before the main event started, Ren also logged to take care of the essentials and get a bit of rest.
The sun peaked through the trees and illuminated the cave entrance that would lead to their epic quest, all the players were chatting excitedly and prepared their gear as the captain of the soldiers gave his men a quick inspection and then headed over to where Ren and the other four were waiting.
“The men are ready, have you decided how we’ll proceed?”
Tristan stepped forward and went over the positions they would take, basically it was the four teams then the soldiers then Ren and his team leading up the rear. Ren didn’t argue with it since he had no way of fighter and even if he did at his current stats he’d likely just die quickly and be unable to for fill his role in the quest.
Once they were arranged the teams headed into the cave, small glowing light orbs floated a couple meters above their heads, a basic mage spell that illuminated the path ahead, a couple orbs were sent further ahead into the cave so they would be able to see at least 20 meters ahead of themselves.
It took a few minutes before Ren and his team were finally able to actually enter to the cave after all the other teams and soldiers went in, as they did a notice appeared before them.
You are the first to discover a new dungeon
Exp will be doubled for the first week
The first monster killed will drop the best item possible
“Neat.” Ren grinned at the perks for discovering a dungeon. “I bet Tristan is racing forward to try and get the first kill for that item drop.” He smirked lightly as he could imagine the other chasing to keep up, not wanting to let him gloat over getting the first kill.
They followed the soldiers in front of them into the depths of the cave, it wasn’t long before the light from the entrance was completely gone, around them small cave lizards and beetles scuttled about in a panic from the resounding thud made by the march of the soldiers.
As Ren marched along behind the soldiers his head turning this way and that as he used his metal detection to keep an eye out for any ores, so far there was only a few bits of iron, he also noted that he could see the metal aura from the soldiers armor in front of him, this was something he took note of.
Suddenly as he made his next step his foot landed on something that gave a slight screeched squeal before the sound of cracking, crunching and then a gooy splat sound. Blinking Ren looked down to see that he’d stepped on a rather large beetle that had unfortunately scuttled under his boot. “Oops, sorry little guy.” What happened next shocked him though as the beetle glowed lightly and vanished in a small burst of star dust particles and under his boot where the beetle had been sat a small rather well worn looking ring. Curiously Ren reached down and picked it up as he realized he’d just gotten the first kill. “Oh man….Tristan is going to be so pissed.” He grinned lightly.