A new quest window appeared in front of Shane before the oddly robed man in the top hat could easily see him.
-New Exploration Level 12 Quest (Part 1)-
Go Inside The Wooden Dwelling, and Then Destroy It
So that's a dwelling? Shane thought. He didn't believe NPCs could make player-style dwellings, as anything made by an NPC would lack the functionality that player-made houses had. Knowing that little factoid left only one obvious answer.
"Cain Prime," Shane spit out the name through clenched teeth and doubled his pace toward the square hut.
The robed man was plainly human, but what wasn't plain was his nearly orange skin. Upon Shane's aggressive approach, the stranger removed his top hat to reveal a messy mop of slick brown hair and gave Shane a short bow.
"Who are you?" Shane asked the man as he came within five meters of him.
He could feel the familiar and expected sensation of anxiety creep into his chest. His heart drummed in his ears as the white-robed fellow considered his jumbled questions. By the time the stranger decided to answer, Shane's anxiety about meeting a new person had transitioned to a dull irritation.
"You're not asking the right question, sir," the man said playfully with a surprisingly high-pitched voice.
"Fine! Why are you here?" Shane responded quickly, losing what little patience he had.
The peculiar man smiled, showing perfect teeth that were far too white.
"My job, dear sir, is to ensure you do not go inside this dwelling behind me."
"Why would I want to go in there?" Shane asked.
"Maybe you should ask the man who looks like you since he owns this place after all."
Figured as much.
"Why, what's inside? Is he in there?!" Shane quickly responded, trying hard to control his flaring anger.
The man gave a sly smile as he twirled the tophat in one hand.
"I suppose I could tell you…for the modest sum of twenty-five gold!" He began chuckling, almost like a mouse squeaking.
In seconds Shane closed the distance between them and tackled the man up against the wooden panels of the dwelling—his spear's tip up pressed against the squeaking man's round gut.
"You will tell me, and you'll do it for free," Shane said, with cold malice seeping through his bared teeth.
"Oww!" The man grunted in pain. "You know, he told me you might be a little upset. You attacking me, though, that's not the smartest move, boy."
As the man spoke, his voice shifted from a squeaky high pitch to a deep rumble that caused Shane's hair to stiffen.
A slow-flowing light green aura blossomed from the strange man's body. Did he hide his aura from me? Shane thought with alarm as he began sensing the man's emotions.
Shane was thankful his aura-sensing ability could also pick up his opponent's emotions. This weird man's confidence would be his undoing because when an aura presented itself to Shane, what he would see was always relevant to his own strength. So in this particular instance, a green aura meant this robe-wearing annoyance was only around fifty to seventy-five percent as powerful as he was—with some room for error.
Still potentially dangerous, but only if he let his guard down. Which Shane immediately did in his peeved-off state of mind. The now deep-voiced man wasted no time and slammed an open palm into Shane's abdomen.
The blow was heavy, with dull pain spreading wide over Shane's midsection. It was like someone tried gutting him with a sledgehammer.
-23 HP (????’s Palm Strike)
The attack hurt, but otherwise only pushed Shane back down the path a few feet as he tried to keep his footing. He staggered for a moment but stayed upright. It looks like my overshield tanked most of that hit. Shane thought. My overshield will fully restore in a few seconds, and I'll attack! As if on queue, the overshield shimmered into life as it reformed from the ground up around Shane's body.
Suddenly, without any warning, Shane's limbs began to feel sluggish and unresponsive. He was going to yell at the man about what was happening, but his mouth stopped moving too. Seconds later, only his eyes could move. What the hell?!
Palm Strike has afflicted [Paralyze] Status Effect
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I'm currently writing my 2nd original story after learning from writing volume 1 of The Man Who Taught The Machine, which you can find on Amazon's Kindle Vella platform - https://www.amazon.com/kindle-vella/story/B0BSFV1B1Z