QUEST INTO HIDDEN REALMS
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Rowdy Rooster Publishing
Copyright 2017 by Thomas W. Gallier, Jr.
Cover Design by Sarah Anderson
Cover At by Felipe de Barros
Title font Marschel Pro
This is a work of fiction. The names, characters, and locations within either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, or locales is entirely coincidental.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
List of other titles
About the author
Quest into Hidden Realms
Daphne, the minotaur, bellowed in rage, grabbed the goblin racing away from her, and threw him against the wall. The half-timbered pub shook, with streamers of dust falling from the ceiling. Killum hastily moved a hand over his mug before it was befouled.
"Oh man, that goblin is toast," Tiana whispered. "Daphne caught me trying to steal her purse on my second day in the Game, and killed me five times."
Killum looked at the goblin more closely; a leather coin purse clutched in the goblin's left hand. He concentrated on the four foot tall goblin in the brown tunic.
He frowned at the red script over the goblin's head. No name. Nothing else. Killum shook his head, thinking,
Since the goblin wasn't a living, paying player, he didn't really care what the minotaur did to him. All Non Player Characters existed for players to fight and kill, and thus earn experience points and other loot. A level 4 mob wouldn't have much to give up.
If a player sat around socializing, or otherwise not doing much, the Game would send in mobs to rouse you. The Game wanted everyone out questing, fighting monsters, and challenging dungeons. Mostly, the Game wanted the players buying newer and better weapons and spells to play the game more successfully.
"How'd Daphne pull that off?" Asha asked. The raven-maned sorceress arched a perfect brow at the redheaded thief. "And I thought stealing purses was beneath you."
Killum paused to study Asha a second. Full immersion virtual reality gave them the most lifelike features and bodies he'd ever seen. He could barely tell it was a game. The next version would probably be indistinguishable from real life. Even better, they felt heat and cold, and anything they held in their hands. Hell, if wounded they felt a muted pain. And sometimes, Killum thought the pain a little too intense and realistic.
"It was my second day," Tiana said, shrugging. The thief wore a brown leather hooded mantle over a brown cotton tunic and loose homespun trousers, helping her to blend in with the city's mobs. She pushed the hood back to reveal her glorious mane of thick fire-red hair. "All this VR glory bedazzled me. Anyway, I came back to apologize."
Killum laughed. "So it took you four attempts to apologize before you figured out Daphne is more interested in PKs than forgiveness?"
"Die, thief!" the minotaur warrior shouted. She picked the poor goblin up, holding both ankles in her massive hands, and started pounding the floor with the guy. Blood splattered everyone and everything within a dozen feet. The goblin gave up the ghost in short order. "Ha! Another one bites the dust."
Killum glanced at the battered and bloody body. The dead goblin vanished after a moment, leaving lots of dark purple goblin blood everywhere. Then he concentrated on the seven foot tall, black-furred minotaur.
The battle-mage averted his eyes when she turned towards him, a challenging scowl on her bovine face. As a rule, one did not challenge a minotaur, much less a level 43 warrior. Killum wondered, not for the first time, if he should create an alternate minotaur warrior character. It would be so sweet to have that kind of raw strength. The intimidation factor alone might be worth it.
"I enjoy a good fight as much as the next guy, but Daphne is killing way too many players," Rand whispered. The dwarf warrior paused to watch her return to her chair at the next table over. Then he watched her warily another long moment. "I heard that she's actually quite soft-spoken and nice in real life."
Rand stood barely five feet tall, but with a big head of red hair, bushy red beard down to his waist, and piercing blue eyes. As he liked to say, he was built like a stump and strong as an ox. He was a fierce and enthusiastic monster fighter, always ready for battle in bluish-gray Dwarven cuirass and helmet, both thick and heavy. His homespun shirt and trousers were bright red.
The dwarf warrior turned back to his companions, the dead mob already out of his mind. He pulled off his heavy steel helmet, dropped it on the floor with a loud
"Now that the entertainment's over…" He looked around and lowered his deep voice even more. "I heard a new dungeon was found over in Deadman's Swamp." The dwarf paused, giving each person around the table a meaningful look. "I heard it is a 'secret' dungeon, with immeasurable riches."
Killum perked up. He palmed the nearly empty purse hanging off his belt. His last acquisition, a Power Sword, cost him a month's worth of loot and a week's RL pay.
"Like what?" Asha asked. The beautiful elven sorceress gave the dwarf a look of utter disdain. "The last dungeon with immeasurable riches you talked us into proved a bust. My cut was a diamond and a few copper shekels. And I had to spend it all to replace the health and mana restoring potions I used on that stupid quest."
"We all got some nice experience, and we all leveled up in a few areas," Killum said.
"I don't play the Game to spend all my time grinding away at dungeons," Fergus said. The elven ranger fussed with his green and brown leathers, while giving the ceiling a dirty look. "I'm a level 38 Ranger, so I'm looking to gain a few more skills and a lot of loot, not just more experience."
"Effeminate snob," Rand muttered.
"You want to take it outside, dwarf?"
"I want to put my axe upside your head, elf."
"You can't reach my head, runt."
"Hey! Calm down," Killum commanded, standing up. He glowered at them, before shaking his head woefully. "That settles it. We've spent too long here in the Rowdy Rooster BSing. Let's go crush a dungeon."
He looked to his left. Asha shrugged. They all had the same Game prompt before them. Tiana on his right nodded eagerly. Fergus and Rand just glared at each other. A smile flirted with the corners of Killum's mouth. They'd been playing together for two years, but the new FIVR was barely three months old. Fortunately, all five of them managed to scrape together enough money to upgrade and buy all of the equipment.
Killum was the group's leader. He was a level 35 battle-mage in the Game, but only a bricklayer in real life. Upgrading cost as much as a small car, and wiped him out. Asha, their elven sorceress, never flinched when it came time to upgrade, so must be doing well. She claimed to be an Indian woman named Asha, working for the Indian delegation at the UN.
Fergus was the oldest of their group, being in his late thirties in RL. All of their avatars looked mid-twenties. Fergus was a grocery store manager, divorced, no children. He didn't like to talk about his RL, and Killum suspected he lived only to play the Game. He definitely spent more time playing than the others, and had gone through several different c ...