Author’s note: Was supposed to be released yesterday, but life happened. I apologize for the delay.
BEFORE YOU READ: I am trying a new style, that is, as you will notice normal dialogues with more narrative from characters.
It feels easier to write and express things that way.
The other thing is that it gives off the book-like feeling instead of breaking the flow every time.
Let me know what you think, if it appears as passable, I’ll adjust the rest of the chapters during my revisement.
Loiterous, Raren City, Princess Saress’s Castle
Sitting on a chair, I was eyed by three people.
One of them was of course the angry strawberry, Saress.
The other one was an old man who was stroking his white beard, Raren City’s Mage Guild’s Guildmaster – Hylzar.
Next to Saress was a young lady, dressed like a modern assistant, incessantly trying to pacify her – Carret.
Saress’s tantrum lasted for about thirty minutes, which would be right after I entered the room, yet looking at her behaviour, she didn’t give off any signs of stopping.
Rolling my eyes, I took a sip from the cup of tea, then placed my left elbow on the table, yawned and glanced at Saress lazily.
“Are you even listening to me?!” princess’s angry voice chided. Actually I did stop listening right after I walked in.
However, feeling that it’s necessary to respond to a ruler, I replied ambiguously”Mm, that tea is indeed good, can I have some more?”.
Needless to say, Saress was enraged even more, if it wasn’t for Carret holding her down, she would probably demolish the entire room.
*cough* *cough* “You seem as capable as always, young man.” Hylzar’s friendly voice rang out.
I was about to smirk, when Carret closed in on me, then whispered softly straight into my right ear “Stop teasing the princess so much, I know you’re doing it on purpose”. Saress’s expression was priceless, my assumption is that she thought Carret was flirting with me.
I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t add fuel to the fire, so I brought Carret closer with my right arm, then whispered into her left ear “Princess will be mad~”.
With her eyes wide, Carret looked at me, frowning. Few seconds later her eyebrows raised, realization dawned on her.
Blushing a little, she turned around and opened her mouth, not knowing what to say.
“Don’t worry honey, I’ll keep your secret safe”.
After saying that, I stood up and brought my chair closer to old man Hylzar.
“Damn you Icicle, I know what you’re doing! Arghhh! Why were you so late?!”
Since Saress went straight to the point and I was really itching to get some sleep, I decided not to prolong the antics.
“I had some things to take care of in my world. Multitasking between the two realms is hard, you know?” was my response coupled with an innocent smile.
“Oh really? Then why were you late today, HUH?!” it seems the princess has learned the human ways of pompous acting over those two weeks or so.
“What do you mean? I sent Zetra to let you know my visit will be delayed, I don’t see a problem here.”
“I swear to God, when I have to deal with the citizens, paperwork or even the pesky nobles, they never irk me as much as you do, Icicle. Even looking at you makes me boiling with anger!”. Isn’t she cute?
“Love is a wonderful feeling, isn’t it?” that should keep her busy for a while.
Saress turned into a real strawberry, but I didn’t mind her anymore and instead focused on old man Hylzar.
“Did you think it through, young man?”
“Indeed. I want to join your Academy, but I do have two conditions.”
“Hahaha, you youths are really daring. Fine then, let this old man hear your requests.” Hylzar responded with a dazzling smile.
“First one is that I’ll still be a member of my Mage Guild, as for the second one, I want a full access to the Academy’s library.”
Hylzar’s expression flickered, he was definitely not happy with the conditions.
However, as an old veteran, it barely lasted a second, then his distorted face returned to the usual amiable expression.
“The second condition is doable, as for the first, absolutely not. If you can’t even commit yourself to my Mage Guild, why should I take you in? Don’t mistake my kidness and generosity for weakness, Icicle.”
Tough guy, huh?
“Mm, I expected as much. Those two conditions are non-negotiable, my Guildmaster already approved.”
“Your Guildmaster? Who could make such an impression on you that you’re not willing to abandon him for me?”
“That’s right, Cindy sends her regards. In case you’re not agreeing, I’m supposed to call her over. Do I need to? It’s tiresome.”
Hylzar’s face twitched, then his eyes opened wide.
“When can you start?”
What a poor guy, these two really seem to have had a thing…
“I should come over in two days, I still have some errands to run in my world.”
Since negotiations went well, I was about to log out, but Saress get ahold of me.
Ten minutes later, I was finally let off the hook.
Immediately logging out, I woke up in my room.
First thing I did was checking my phone.
I see, so the chief of police kept his part of the bargain, good.
You can never have too many underlings.
Unless you’re poor.
Weird, who else could have this number?
“Hello, it’s Sara. I would like to thank you for the last time, you know, umm, saving me. Are you free tomorrow at 8 am? We can meet at the bar nearby your house. I think it’s the only one in the city, heheh. This is getting weird, so call me back or text me if you’re willing to come! Bye bye♥!”.
Well, it’s not like I have something to do tomorrow and eating something good once in a while wouldn’t hurt.
I guess I can afford to go.
Not giving it further thought, I went to the toilet, ate some food, took a shower, brushed my teeth and headed straight to bed.
Loiterous, somewhere inside Minaeryth Kingdom’s borders, Ashley’s POV
Playing Loiterous was a lot of fun.
I could distract myself from my studies and day to day life.
Considering the time dilation, I could cram much more within a shorter period of time, at the same time having fun playing.
It was a totally new and invigorating experience to read quest-like books inside a fantasy world.
As a [Paladin], I was naturally trained by the church in the [Starting Area].
Choosing to do side quests, I was able to gain some familiarity with them, making a name for myself.
After a while, I was tasked with more dangerous missions, thus the rewards were much more significant as well.
Around a month ago, I was given a spellbook.
Using it immediately, my [Paladin] class changed to [Inquisitor].
The mechanics were basically the same, but I had some additional skills.
Not only that, there was a much deeper meaning to this class.
It was a position of a leader, I was eligible to lead the Church of Light’s forces!
With many NPCs by my side, I was travelling all around the Minaeryth Kingdom, visiting many places and dungeons, quickly gaining in levels. My current level was 155, with the equipment provided by the church, I consider myself quite strong.
When I logged into Loiterous today, I was informed in form of a quest that I need to report to the headquarters.
There was even an item attached, allowing me to almost instantaneously arrive there.
When the light descended upon me, it felt warm.
Space all around me distorted, then the light flashed once again and I arrived in the middle of the palace-like temple.
The Pope was sitting at his golden-white throne, adding into his holiness.
At least he probably thought it did, seeing firsthand the way this supposedly holy institution works, I knew it’s all bullshit.
The reason I stayed was simple.
Clergy was able to provide me with good equipment, class and rewarding missions.
Who wouldn’t take on the opportunity?
It’s not like I have sold my soul to the devil.
Upon the direct order of the Pope himself, I was given a new task.
Follow Cardinal Noren in his venture to subdue some troublesome person.
I was wondering who might it be, but I wasn’t told.
At the exit of the Grand Temple, as all the believers called it, I was given a horse.
Luckily, I had already learned [Riding] on previous missions.
Galloping for around two hours, I reached the north-west border of Minaeryth Kingdom.
Huge mountains covered the horizon, some were so high that I couldn’t even see their peaks.
Many of those “giants” as I called them, were covered in snow.
It was a bizarre sight, few of the adjacent mountains looked completely different, unnatural.
I have done a mission nearby only once and this area is supposedly a natural border between Minaeryth Kingdom and Kingdom of Acalen.
Supposedly, if one were to hike high enough, he would be able to see the Mages’ magic-powered constructions.
Whether this is true or not, I do not know, but looking at these mountains that are so unnatural, I’m inclined to believe that their climate is somewhat controlled.
At the foor of the mountain, there were many field tents filled with soldiers.
Aside from the patrols, most of the troops were resting, polishing their weapons and armors, chatting, drinking happily or entertaining themselves by playing cards or rolling dice.
The overall atmosphere was somewhat rowdy.
When I walked into the camp, I saw many bonfires being lit.
Wondering what’s it all about, I was about to ask, but then I saw [Archers] coming in from the side.
To the east of the camp there was a moderate sized forest, the people coming back looked like mercenaries hired by the church.
On the other side, there was a vast ocean, some other people came back wih fishes.
What’s surprising is that both groups had a few players!
Carrying deers and rabbits on their backs, the smell of food being cooked quickly spread over the camp.
I guess that’s one of the ways to save on food expenses.
Making my way to the largest tent, I was stopped by two paladin guards.
Quickly looking me over, I was recognized as a newly recruited female [Inquisitor].
Striding into the white field tent in the middle of a somewhat lifeless place, I was welcomed by a large wooden desk, atop of which was a golden goblet and a wooden cross.
Cardinal Noren sat beside it, perusing some documents.
“I’ve come as requested, Cardinal”.
“Good, I’ve been waiting for you. Gather some of your fellow adventurers, we’ll set out soon.”
That was quick.
“If you don’t mind me asking, who exactly needs so much attention from the church?”.
I saw that the cardinal was hesitating, but then he looked up at me and spoke “I guess with your level of involvement, you’re qualified to know. The king’s daughter, Saress, is currently plotting with a man known as Icicle Whitesnow. Per his Holiness wishes we are tasked with eliminating that thorn from both our and the king’s side.”
Icicle Whitesnow? Wasn’t it the person who was known on the forums a while ago?
To think a player would cause this much commotion, what did he do?
Well, not like it matters, as long as I get rid of him, I will be rewarded handsomely.
I wonder how strong that person is.
After some chit-chat, I bowed respectfully and exited the tent.
Looking for some capable people will take some time.
Soon, the hunt will begin!
The next day, 6 am, Albatros Company’s conference room, Lisa’s POV
*yawn* Why do these meeting need to be held so early.
I took my seat in the conference room and looked around. No one seemed to be missing.
“Our lovely sleepyhead is here as well. Alright, since everyone’s gathered, let the meeting commence.” president’s voice rang out.
The president was a man in his fifties, a little chubby, with a black moustache giving him a puissant look.
This meeting I was currently a part of was usually called biweekly to share the various departments’ findings, take note of excelling players, plan future events, discuss the company’s management and such.
Today, we were specifically gathered to discuss the state of the game after the recent update.
I saw Julie and Reese sitting at the right corner of the table, while I was located more in the middle on the opposite side.
Two other developers started presenting their opinions on the recent update.
To summarise, they praised the change of fatal blows into critical hits.
Those two sure as hell were wordy about it, proclaiming how they tested it themselves in the [Desolated Catacombs], the lowest level dungeon there is on the Fashin Continent.
If that wasn’t enough, those two devs were taking pride in defeating individual monsters in a group of eight.
I mean, it’s not bad to be a teamplayer, but considering yourself as a weakest part of the food chain, scared of every shadow looming around, what sort of playthrough was this?
Pride and arrogance are divided by a thin line, but isn’t this way of playing too cowardly?
Whatever, I stopped listening to them after they talked about how strong monsters were.
Maybe it’s because of Icicle, who has so bravely charged into dungeons like it’s nothing, showing his domineering demeanor, but when I listened to those two scaredy-cats, I felt disgusted.
Honestly, no one would want to hear about the adventures of weaklings, unless they did something extraordinary, hell, otherworldly.
*sigh* Maybe I’m being too harsh. After all, there are all kinds of people in the world.
Individuals perceive things differently.
The discussion continued, every single one of the developers who were asked to raise an opinion spoke favorably of the update.
Of course those who played mages were discontented, but they approved of the change nonetheless.
The second subject was to nominate the players who should be paid attention to.
My vote was obviously Icicle Whitesnow, Julie and Reese surprisingly seconded that, but the nomination was rejected.
“Maybe later on, when his class begins to show some effects”.
Hahaha, foolish people, they’ll definitely enroll Icicle on this list within a month’s time.
However, I didn’t want to sound too haughty or be too pushy, so I didn’t force my opinion.
Afterwards, we discussed several other players.
Fire Deity’s champions.
Indeed, champions, there were two of them.
One which was causing a ruckus, named Niner, burned a whole village including its inhabitants.
Niner’s class was named [Incinerator]
The other one called Minise treaded the path of a blacksmith.
Both were promising talents and were considered remarkable.
The next person on the list was Earth Deity’s champion, Hubro.
His unique class had the name of [Rockling].
Consider [Rockling] as one of the most powerful tank classes.
Aside from that, Hubro has founded a pretty powerful guild – Morning Dew.
Moving on, yet another champion was noticed, Wind Deity’s chosen – Vess.
Vess was a female swordsman, from the reports her swordsmanship most likely didn’t come from the game, but from the real world.
With her graceful movements coupled with [Elemental Swordsman] class, even with her low time online compared to other chosen, Vess became a force to be reckoned with.
Lightning Deity had its champion too.
His nickname was surprisingly… Volt.
Volt’s class was called [Electro], its creators wanted to call it Electric Rogue, Electrogue in short, but then it felt off and cheesy, so it was shortened even more.
With a powerful assassin type class, Volt created a guild specializing in PK and assassinations.
The last one of the champions came from Darkness Deity.
There are so many of dark element deities that I’m not even sure which one chose its champion.
Chosen player’s name was, ironically, Bruss.
His class was called [Dark Scholar].
As far as I’m concerned this class was all about creating items, including potions filled with poisons and other malicious effects such as curses and blights.
It could be used in battle, but its stats growth was mediocre at best.
Nonetheless, in right hands, [Dark Scholar] could become the most feared existence.
All of the champions who were noted were of course the players.
Non of the NPCs champions needed to be noticed, they were alraedy a “part of the package”.
The meeting continued, other notable players were mentioned, then guilds, dungeon owners, future events, powerful items, new ideas and so on.
Everything went into one of my ears and escaped from the other.
I was focused on what to wear for my date today.
After all, Icicle sent a text indicating that he would come, it would be rude to cancel.
Wait, I was the one who invited him, if I didn’t show up that would mean I’m bad mannered.
And… I have already booked a hotel room booked.
Had to store my clothes somewhere, right?
Still in a middle of thinking, I took a bus that stopped near the hotel I booked the room in.
Stepping inside the room, I opened a huge wardrobe wandering what to wear.
When I saw all the possible combinations of attires, I wished I was born a man…
7:30 am, Icicle’s POV
After coming back from my morning jog, I took a shower and brushed my teeth, then went shopping.
My funds were dwindling, I hope the dungeon will bring me some influx of cash, otherwise I’ll have to get my money from the company’s bank account.
It all belongs to me, but I feel kind of anxious touching that money.
I have a feeling that if I withdraw it, I’ll go back to who I used to be.
Well, some signs were already there, in the game.
*sigh* Unfortunately, it’s not something I can help.
I wasn’t sure if it was a date or a casual meeting, so I didn’t dress formally.
Never being stylish, black leather jacket and blue jeans appeared to me as sufficient.
The jacket was supposed to be one of my dream’s complements- riding a motorcycle.
As luck had it, it never came to be, I didn’t get a license, thus my dream died or at least was put on hold.
I felt quite sad, but at least this jacket could accompany me to a possibly life-changing event.
Alright, I won’t get my hopes up, I don’t want to become dispirited over a woman.
Great, I sound depressed already.
After giving myself the last look over in the mirror, I walked out of my apartment.