“I guess it makes sense that NPCs are taking more of a role in training the new players since it is probably harder to form a group, especially given how many different starter towns there are. The man who trained you didn’t mentioned who was going to come after Mr. Pots so it stands to reason that he did not know who it would be.”
Moira nodded as Gardenia try to walk through the logic. Gardenia continued, “It looks like our only real clue to go on is that they looked like ninjas. I would put their skill level at mid to high intermediate. Practically impossible for a beginner to deal with but not a big problem for me.”
“Are you an expert player then? I heard they had moved on from Trezy to the more remote cities.” Asked Moira.
“A lot of them have. Normally I’m not even around Trezy but Equinox is a friend and I commission most of my equipment from him so I stop by occasionally. But yes, I am an expert player.”
“Wow… doesn’t it take like a year to become an expert player?”
Gardenia chucked a little before saying, “Well since the game hasn’t even been out a full year yet so that can’t be true. Besides the truly time consuming part isn’t getting to expert skills it is mastering expert skills. I haven’t seen anybody who has mastered an expert skill yet. Plus I do kinda play the game a lot.”
“Still, it is impressive. I wasn’t allowed to play until recently so I am going to have to do a lot of catching up.”
“You don’t need to take it too quickly. When I was about your level I went off to wander and arctic zone and fought a dragon. There are plenty of things of intermediate skilled players to do. Although we probably need to deal with the assassins first, I haven’t heard of any ninjas living in Trezy so there are probably from elsewhere.”
Gardenia contemplated the issue for a little bit before saying, “Well, I haven’t heard of anything personally but I do have some friends that might know something. Let me contact them and I’ll see if they know anything.”
Gardenia pulled up her friends list and checked who was online. The two friends who might know something about this were either Vanishing Doubt or Oblivion Shadow. She still felt a little bit awkward contacting any of the members of the Forgotten Saviors since she still hadn’t really found herself so she decided to send a message to Oblivion Shadow.
He knew a lot about the lore of the game so he would probably know if there were any groups of NPCs that did this. It took a few moments for the call to connect before Oblivion Shadow answered.
“Gardenia, it has been a while. I see you are still playing this game.” Was his greeting when he answered.
“The numbers of people playing is just growing so I don’t think it is that weird that I am still playing. How are you doing, still seeking inner peace?”
“I have been descending into madness, plumbing the depths of my own mind.”
“I’m not really certain what you mean by that but I hope it is going well. Mainly I called you because I wanted to know if you knew the source of something. I recently had a strange encounter with a new player. She received an unidentifiable black ferret from and NPC and now ninjas are chasing her down attempting to kill her. I wondered if you might know anything about that?”
“Ninjas chasing down a black ferret? That does sound pretty weird. Do you know if they are players or NPCs?”
“I don’t actually know. However they attacked in an alley in Trezy and we middle intermediate strength. There were two of them. My guess is NPCs and that this is part of some quest line but I am not 100% certain.”
“If they are just independent players then I don’t really have much information I can give you toward figuring things out. Now if those are NPCs or roleplaying players then I might have something. There is a secret organization known as the Darkside Maw. The operate around Trezy. Have you heard about Reverse Zones before?”
“No, what are those?”
“They are a special type of zone. Short story they are basically instance dungeons that need to be cleared in one attempt. There is a little bit more too them than that though. Unlike normal instance dungeons reverse zones are inhabited by NPCs.”
“Instance dungeons inhabited by NPCs, is that even possible?” Asked Gardenia.
“I can understand your apprehension but the records are pretty clear that they exist. From the scant rumors about them I have heard they are extremely dangerous content because they adapt and change to the people that are raiding it.”
“Alright, assuming this Darkside Maw is sending assassins after this girl and her ferret, is there anyway for me to stop them? After all, NPCs can keep respawning and continuing the attack.”
“Hmmm, that is. a tricky question. Normal NPCs don’t usually attack players. I will have to do some research about that. Also the route to the Darkside Maw, paths through the Tunnels to Reverse Zones are typically secret. Finding it might be tricky.”
“Are you fine with spending time looking into this?” Asked Gardenia.
“I don’t mind. Looking into things like this is one of my hobbies. The library in towns don’t cover reverse zones very much so this is an opportunity for me to discover new information. However you should take care, if what I have heard about Darkside Maw is correct then the enemies that you faced are practically rookies. Since you have proven capable of dealing with them next time they will send tougher opponents.”
“Thanks, I will keep that in mind. Good luck trying to find out more information.”
“I will talk with you later.” Said Oblivion Shadow over the call before he hung up.
Moira hadn’t been able to hear any of the conversation so Gardenia had to explain what she had learned to Moira.
“So these Darkside Maw folks want to kill me and take Mr. Pots? Why would they want to do that?” She said.
Gardenia shook her head, “I don’t know yet but according to my friend they will probably send even stronger assassins next time. While I can definitely protect you if they attack I don’t know if I also can defeat them. I wanted to call in reinforcements. With another party member I can allocate defeating the assassins to them.”
Moira nodded, “Alright, if you think they will help but is it really alright for a several expert characters to waste their time helping me?”
“It will be fine. I’m sure she will be totally interested in helping you. Give me a moment while I call her.”
It took very little time before that call connected.
“Yo yo, what is up? It has been like infinite time since you last called me. I was beginning to think you had forgotten about me.”
“I need your help protecting a girl and her magical ferret from mysterious ninja assassins.”
“Tell me where you are and I will be there immediately.” Demanded Iyrandrar Norra.
The call immediately ended. Gardenia looked over at Moira and said, “It looks like she is in, she will be here soonish I think. She probably needs to teleport in from another city but is otherwise available.”
“Alright, I’m still a bit surprised about how everything. Did I somehow become the important chosen one or something?” Said Moira.
Gardenia giggled a little bit, “Maybe, maybe, I will have to tell Norra about that when she gets here. I’m sure she will have something to say about that.”
There was a knock on the door and Gardenia said, “Come in.”
Equinox opened the door. He was holding a plate full of small cake slices. “I have brought some snacks for the guests. Please help yourself.” He placed the plate of cakes on the table between Gardenia and Moira.
Moira looked at the slices of cake with a hungering look in her eyes, “Really? Is it really alright?”
Equinox laughed, “Yes, it is fine. There is a cake shop a few shops down and I have several guests who like hanging around and chatting while I finish their job.” He winked at Gardenia while he spoke. “So please help yourself.”
“I invited Norra to join us so save a slice for her.” Said Gardenia.
Equinox was grabbing plates from the cupboard in the room. He placed one set in front of each of the girls before setting one aside for Norra. Gardenia helped herself to one of the slices while Moira grabbed another one.
“Anything I can help with?” Asked Equinox after everybody had been served. “About the whole assassin thing I mean?”
“How are your combat skills?” Asked Gardenia.
“Still lacking. I am close to mastering several of my intermediate skills but it hasn’t happened yet. Since I am mainly a crafter and not a gatherer I don’t have much opportunity to raise them.” His description made sense. He was an expert crafter however so he had certainly put a lot of effort into his chosen profession.
“Well, that meets the minimum criteria so sticking around shouldn’t be an issue. You can probably beat the assassins I saw earlier but I’ve been told that there might be much more dangerous assassins coming in later. That was one of the reasons I called in Norra as backup. Although if you were to hurry up my most recent commission that would also be beneficial.”
“There is only so much I can hurry. You are talking about an expert tier weapon. I’ll do the best that I can but I am pioneering new techniques here so I can’t give you an proper estimate about how long it will take. However, “ he paused, “I can close the shop a little early and start working on it now.”
He just nodded before taking his leave from the room.
Moira has a grin on her face before saying, “Is he your… you know.”
Gardenia did a double take before shaking her head and saying, “No, just a regular friend. Although, if you ask me, I think he has been getting rather close with the owner of the sweets shop and just uses the guests as a reason to keep buying her cake.”
Moira nodded with great interest. Gardenia had never been much for discussing this type of topic but she knew that many people were interested.
Gardenia tried to make small talk with Moira until she was eventually saved by a boastful announcement, “Out of the Darkness comes the world’s true hero.” The door practically slammed open to the appearance of, “Iyrandrar Norra.”
She still had her blond hair tied up in pig tails but her other equipment had changed a lot. She was still wearing what could be described as leather armor or maybe instead an idol outfit. It left most of her legs and arms exposed while covering all the vital bits with a golden leather. The strange part was the decorative fills while made it look extremely non-practical.
The other major change was the Norra had succeed to getting the elven legacy skill and now had pointed eyes to compliment her look.
Moira practically clapped upon Norra’s extreme entrance. Gardenia was practically used to the weirdness that Norra extruded so she basically ignored the entrance. “We saved you some cake. Also I’m pretty certain Moira is the hero in this story. She is the one with the mysterious magical animal who is targeted by unknown assassins.”
Norra fell to her hands and knees in disappointment. “No! Defeated once more!”
It didn’t take Norra too long to “recover” and she pulled herself up onto the chair before grabbing a fork and began to eat the cake. Once her had recovered some of her energy from the cake she spoke once more, “So, you called the great me to assist in defeating this evil assassin organization?”