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Chapter Eleven


            The inside of Wings’ base was much similar to Nox’s.  The inside was considerably larger than the outside led you to believe, though.  One of the main things Jason noticed was the incredible attention to detail here.  The walls were decorated with maps and figurines, no table was left undecorated, and there was a statue or a plant at every corner.

            Wings led him through the front room, which Jason had assumed was the Greeting room in both this house and Nox’s, and down into a thin narrow hallway that ended into an old and unreliable looking stairway.  Wings stopped and looked at Jason expectedly.

            “Erm, ladies first.”  He mumbled and waved at her than the stairway.  She rolled her eyes and the female half elf stifle a laugh as she moved up the stairs quietly.  Seeing that she made it up rather safely, Jason followed.  Although, every step he took made the boards creak and whine in protest.  When Jason finally, and nervously, made it to the top of the untrustworthy stairs, Wings took off down yet another hall.

            Jason had begun to wonder how it was possible that Wings, who probably was not without a master still, had come to a base of her own.  He did not quite know the answer, but he suspected that this was in fact her master’s home.  He nearly confirmed his guess as he passed numerous amounts of photos, automatically taken by the game, of Wings and a dark skinned, mocha colored female elf that towered over her half human and half elf companion.

            Wings stopped at the end of the hall, and Jason bumped into her slightly.  She recoiled sharply, but not before Jason had the chance to feel her warm body pressed up against his, not too unpleasantly.  In a rather angry and embarrassed movement (so Jason thought) Wings hid her face from his an opened a door that led into a cozy little bedroom with a bed, a chair, a fireplace of its own, and room enough to store a few artifacts and bookshelves, along with a well filled weapons rack and clear room for practicing.

            Wings pointed at the Chair, a cozy and soft looking armchair next to the crackling fire, and Jason sat on it leisurely.  She sat on the bed facing him and spoke for the first time since entering the house.

            “You are lucky I was able to get Dusty to set you free.  He is notorious for what he does to thieves and drows.”

            “Drows?”  Jason asked, confused.  “And why did not you tell Dusty my username?  I would not have minded.”

            Wings snorted.  “That is the problem.  You give your name away too freely.  I noticed that first when Nox was introducing you to other quest recruiters.  Names have powerful names here, and if yours, or anyone else’s really, got into the wrong hands, then someone could use a direct spell on you, which would only be possible if they knew your full username.  DustyDustin is not a very trustworthy fellow, and would do almost anything to make a quick buck, and that would mean selling weapons and information on other people.”

            Jason nodded, for it made sense now that he knew why she had done it.  “Thank you, then, and what about drows?  Is that what Kenneth is?”

            She nodded and stretched her back slightly, putting her hands behind her to support her.  Jason hardly tried not to notice her and the way the fire lit up her face.  After a while of being in the game and encountering different players and their avatars, he began to guess that everyone based their looks after themselves, Jason knew that he did on his.  Wings was not ugly at all, but she was not drop dead gorgeous either.  She was pleasant and kind and something about her seemed familiar, yet again Jason thought, but her black hair threw him off the trail again.

            “Yes, Kenneth was a type of drow.  A Drow, you see, is an elf that goes bad.  A player that is seduced by the dark and evil side and prefers to do evil things, as you very well saw.”  Seduced.  She seemed to know what was on his mind.  That or his imagination was just taking an entertaining toll.  Jason shook himself to break free of a wistful image.

            “One more thing.”  He said.  She nodded and he continued.  “You are not on as high of a level as I thought you were.  Is it just you, or is nearly everyone so low.”  She narrowed her eyes, whether it was because of the way he had been looking at her or what he had said.

            “Actually, I am on level nine, thank you very much.  And… I do suppose you are correct.  Forgive me for saying, but dubiously you will agree with me, in the real world the game was only just released to the commoners.  Before only the ‘elite’,” she said so mockingly, “Were allowed to play, or could even afford it.  I do believe it has been a week or so that most commoners have been playing, so very nearly everyone you see probably has a master.  And, obviously, almost all the masters must be rich.”

            “A week?  My town just got the game delivered today!”  Jason exclaimed.  Wings simply shrugged to the news.

            “Different parts of the world got the news at different times.  It must have taken a while for every city to accept that ruling and receive the shipments of the games.  I, myself, have only been playing for about three days.”

            “Three days and already on level nine?  I am impressed.”  Jason said.  She flashed a smiled at him and sat up.

            “The first levels always move the quickest, plus you gain tons of experience points once you start doing quests and enter a guild.”

            “What is a guild?” Jason interrupted, then realized how much so he was doing so.  There was a pause from Wings, then both of them started to laugh and she smiled wildly.

            “Well, right now it doesn’t really matter.  What you really need to know about is your quest.”

            “To find and water the Pistachio tree, right?”  Jason remembered what he had heard earlier and Wings confirmed it once more.

            “Yes, but there are some things Nox may or may not have neglected to tell you.  First off, this here is the quest.”  She held up a clean and unopened envelope.  Jason raised an eyebrow questioningly but let her continue and elaborate.  “When you open it you have to confirm that you accept the quest.  Second off, when you are in the quest, there is no time limit, or at least no set time limit.  For, you see, when you accept, an assassin that has already accepted the job will embark on the quest with you.  You have to try and complete the quest before them, or else you fail it and will lose a life.  Also, The assassin will try and kill you and one of your lives, which if they do, will also let you fail the quest.  So, before you take this from my hand, I do believe that either you go outside and buy some items of your own, or you let me lend you a few from my collection.

            “I’d rather borrow.”  Jason said kind of sheepishly.  “But why would you do that?  Loan me, I mean.” Wings stifled a giggle.

            “Because, since it was my mission to give out the quest, I get experience points not only when someone accepts it, but I get extra when you complete it.  Now stop asking questions and go back there and pick out a decent sword and a handheld gun or something.  There should also be a canteen over there, and feel free to add it to your bag.”  Jason nodded and stood up.

            He walked over there and let the knapsack fall from his shoulders and slump onto the floor.  He removed his worn short sword from his belt and set it on the table next to the canteen, which he picked up and replaced onto his belt.  Then he looked over at the weapons themselves.  It was a wide array and assortment, and Jason saw a short sword very similar to his own hanging next to a very elaborate and long saber.

            Fingering the hilt of each blade, Jason decided to pick up a well made, but rather simple, long sword.  He pulled it slowly from the rack and  the metal slid easily across the support bars and whistled softly.  He lifted it into the air and waved it experimentally to test the balance.

            “You have good taste.”  Wings said and Jason stole a short glance at her before returning his gaze to the slender long sword.  He had, though, noticed that she changed her posture to where she was now sitting cross legged on the bed, and her hands were placed firmly on her feet, holding them together in a strange stretch that supported her body.

            “Oh really?” Jason said taking a swipe with the blade and enjoying the wisp of air that came as the long sword displaced the density surrounding it, cutting the air in two as Jason toyed with his borrowed weapon.  He felt that rush of adrenaline surge through his body, and along with it was the power that seemed to sing and pulse from the sword itself.  The structure was stealthily made, sharp on both ends and flat but flexible, and light as air.  It was curved slightly on each side, giving it a very stretched out, and deadly, eight shape.  On the blade itself were runes written in a strange tongue, and as Jason wept a finger across the surface, he felt nothing but smooth metal and an imaginative, almost palpable, pulse beneath the thin metal.

            “Yes,” Wings said, “I do believe I won that long sword as an aftermath of a duel with a very unlucky elf.”

            “There seems to be lots of elves out here, do not you think?”  Jason said, cutting her off her thought.  Wings held her breath, not truly bothered or angry, but thinking about how to respond to the rather true statement.  Since it had taken her a moment to respond, Jason looked back at her once more to make sure he had not offended the half elf.

            “hmm, yes, I suppose there is a lot of elves.”  Wings said calmly and with an amused tone ringing in her voice.  “My guess is that people are attracted to the attributes and benefits, but fail to notice the drastic liabilities and setbacks.  Plus, I do believe, that nearly all the ‘elite’ and rich people chose the elves because they like to appear superior and on top.”  Wings rolled her eyes and stifled a laugh.  “But it doesn’t mean they are on top, quite the contrary actually.”

Jason openly laughed out loud.  “True, I will remember that.  Now, about the sword… what is so special about it?”

Oh!  Well, it was elven made, as you can clearly see.  And if you looked at the hilt…”  Jason did and noticed what she was going to point out.  There was a gemstone like thing set into it, near where the blade met the handle.  Next to it was an empty socket, as if one gem had been removed or maybe it was so an extra gem could be added later.  “That gem has elven magic stored in it.  Which, when you use it, it preserves some of your energy and stamina, but increases your efficiency and attack power.”

“Wow.”  Jason murmured and examined the elven gem.  It was a dark blue, but an impure blue that was mixed with a brownish grey tint.  It looked nothing like the gemstone he had found at Nox’s place.  “Elven magic?  I thought they used that to cast spells and such.”  Jason said once he remembered what he had read about the different races when he had first started playing… yesterday.  It seemed like it was so long ago, Jason recalled.

“Well, yes.”  She explained.  “They can also preserve spells and quantities of magic inside of a gemstone, like that one.  This particular spell is one that they would use before a fight, but when it is implanted into a gem and sword, it saves them the time and energy of having to cast it.  When magic is trapped into a gemstone, it changes the gem’s color to match the type of spell.”

Jason nodded as she talked, and also stashed the elven long sword onto his belt, motioning for her to continue.  “You can have regular magic such as casting fireballs or conjuring creatures and stones that will do the same.  It is just much more convenient.  And, plus, there are just so many types of magic that it is hard to explain.  But you will learn in time.  I mean, I have hardly been playing for three days… but I guess it helps that the time works differently here, it is like you can have all the extra time you need to do things.”

“Do you know why that is?”  Jason asked after she had finished.

Wings shrugged.  “Not completely, but I do think it has something to do with the way the brain works.  Since they use Nanosensors and such the game runs at the speed of the brain, which moves incredibly fast, much faster, in fact, than the way we live our lives.  The mind is said to be in constant motion and we can process, think about, and perform up to ten things simultaneously without even noticing it.”

“That is really cool.”  Jason remarked and wings nodded, smiling wide to bare her teeth.  Jason then picked up his knapsack from the floor and put a rather modern pistol in it.  The glare of light made Jason pause, and he slowly pulled out the glowing reddish purple stone from the bowels within.  As he did so, he heard wings have a rather sharp intake of breath, and the rustle of fabric as she moved off the bed and to his side in an instant.  He held the gem out to her, and she tenderly took it.

“Where did you find that!?”  Wings breathed, stupefied as she turned it over and over, examining every last centimeter of its smooth unreal surface.  “I have never, never seen a gem like this before.  It must be extremely rare.”  She exclaimed and held it back to him, her eyes suddenly wide and her smile gone as if it had never been there.  “Put it back.”  She whispered venomously, her tone low and urgent.  “Put it back.  Hurry now.”  Jason was surprised at her tone and the command itself.  He hesitated, unsure as to listen to her or not, but suspicious won him over and he put it back at the bottom of the knapsack.

“Wh-” he began, but wings held up a hand and silenced him.

“Keep it hidden and safe.  I do not know what that is or how you got it, but it is marked by evil and dark magic, and I feel that no one should know about it.  Do you understand?”  Wings nearly hissed the words and Jason nodded the closed the knapsack and shouldered it.

Wings closed her eyes and took a deep breath, and when she opened them , she gave Jason the envelope that contained his first quest.  “Here,” she said and he took it from her.  “Good luck on your quest Thief.”

The End

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