“More or less. I am having another friend look into the origins of the assassins and where to find their lair.” Gardenia filled Norra in on the details about who the assassins might be and Moira’s backstory.
“I see. Quite the plot that is unfolding. You were right to call an additional team member. Although, you will probably want to call in some more. This might end with use having to raid Darkside Maw, it is probably inevitable. That is just they way these kinds of quests go. There is also another super important thing that needs to happen.”
Moira was hanging onto Norra’s words. Gardenia knew that the next thing that was going to come out of Norra’s mouth was going to be something stupid but Moira hadn’t realized that about Norra yet.
Moira gulped and asked, “What?”
“We are going to need to get you some new clothes. What you have now… it just won’t do. If you are going to be the hero then you need to look the party. If you were a boy I would put you in green but instead… hmmm. I have just the place for hero clothes.”
It was like Gardenia had known. In Gardenia’s opinion, Norra wasn’t exactly wrong. Moira was still wearing beginner equipment, getting her better gear was an important priority.
Gardenia made sure to include some other actually helpful advice. “Also you should make sure your skills are appropriate. If you don’t have three to four intermediate skills learned you should select a few more. More than that is fine but having a few intermediate skills is important. I am sure between me, Norra, and Equinox we can tell you where the skill trainer for the skill you want to learn is.”
Norra was practically pushing Moira out the door during Gardenia’s suggestion. She could only go, “What, oh, yes. Are you sure it is safe? Aren’t we worried about assassins showing up again?”
“Don’t worry, don’t worry. With Gardenia here they won’t hurt a hair on your head. She is a top class tank who can protect anybody.” Said Norra.
“I wouldn’t put myself that high.” Gardenia was following them as they began to leave through the front of the shop. Before leaving they made sure that Equinox knew that they were going it.
Norra marched Moira through the streets with Gardenia following closely behind. Norra was chattering aimlessly, mostly telling Moira stories about the times that she and Gardenia had adventured together.
Meanwhile Gardenia was sending mail messages to several of the people on her friends list. Norra was probably correct that they would need to assembling a raid team. There was already three of them and if it was a team instance dungeon then she would need three more. Oblivion Shadow was on the list of potential recruits since he had already been roped into this issue.
The clothing store that Norra was leading them to was practically a back alley location. There was just a little sign that said, “True Cosplay”.
Gardenia stopped Norra and asked, “This place… is this a real armor shop? Because it doesn’t look like one.”
“Hey, don’t look at me like that! The two owners are totally expert tailors. If we want good cloth armor that looks good this is absolutely the best placed to buy.”
“Alright then but please don’t dress her up as something weird.”
Norra looked away and was practically whistling as she opened the door and lead Moira into the shop. Inside it was practically normal. There were racks of clothing hanging on either side and a changing room in the back. The whole place wasn’t very big but it gave a cozy feel. Or at least it would but Gardenia could feel danger radiating from all the clothing around her.
The man at the counter looked more like a butler than a shopkeeper. He smiled as they entered and stood up. “My ladies. Welcome to this humble shop. Mistress Norra, it is a pleasure to see you again. How may I help you in this find day.”
There was shuffling in the back room and a voice called out, “Norra? Did you say Norra?” And out from the side room came a woman wearing a maid outfit. She also smiled and said, “Indeed, Mistress Norra and companions. Please, welcome.”
“Nope…” said Gardenia as she practically grabbed Moira’s collar. She tried to turn around and bring Moira back to safety but it was too late. Norra practically teleported to the entrance door and locked it with a click.
Norra had a giant grin and just said, “Too late. You are trapped now. The only thing you can do is give in.”
Gardenia and Moira (who was looking more confused than anything else) were trapped and could no longer escape their terrible fate. They (mostly just Gardenia) could only stand there as the three grinning people moved in closer for the kill.
More than an hour later Gardenia managed to break free. She practically threw herself out the door of the shop. She was wearing a white dress what had a floral pattern. She felt incredibly awkward and defenseless because she was missing her chainmail.
Compared to the basically useless clothing that Gardenia was wearing, the clothing that Moira was wearing was practically utilitarian. Norra and the tailoring couple had still decided to go with green. The clothing was practically a dress covered in embroidery. It came down to around the shins. It had short sleeves and made Moira look almost like a princess.
Gardenia wanted to complain to the shop owners but she couldn’t manage to voice the complaint. She had seen the statistics of the green dress and it was top quality, practically the top of intermediate magical armor.
Norra had gotten in on the “fun” and was wearing her own dress… although cosplay school uniform might be a better description of what Norra was wearing. Gardenia could see the chuckling couple that ran the store through the still open door to the store. She privately swore never to visit that place again.
“Wow… this is amazing.” Said Moira in an act of betrayal to Gardenia as she spin around in her new dress. “Is it really alright for me to keep this?” She also had a new satchel that matched the dress. The head of Mr. Pots pocked out of the bag as it looked around the street.
“It is too late. I have already paid for both of those dresses. They are your’s now and you must keep them forever!” Gloated Norra as she looked in triumph at both Gardenia and Norra.
Gardenia’s groaning was interrupted by a call she was receiving from Oblivion Shadow. She answered the call. “Hey, did you figure something out.”
“Yeah, a little bit. However… well, I think I will take you up on your offer of joining the group. I’m on my way. Can you meet me at the teleport point in Trezy?” He asked.
“Sure, we can meet there. We just… uh, finished, with our current task. How long do you think you will be before getting there.”
“Thirty minutes probably, an hour max. And remember to keep an eye out. Darkside Maw might be even more dangerous then I initially suggested.”
“See you there.” She said as she disconnected.
She waved at Moira and Norra before saying, “Oblivion Shadow is joining us. We are going to meet him at the teleport point in half an hour.”
They began following the road down toward the teleport point. Trezy was a very vertical city and the teleport point was down near the bottom of the city. Currently they were about half way up the mountain and need to make their way down.
As they were passing through a residential area, heading down a flight of stairs, Gardenia paused as raised her hand stopping the others. She hadn’t seen anything but she had a bad hunch.
Norra whispered softly, “Is there an ambush?”
“I don’t know. I don’t see anything but… well… it feels like when I draw aggro and the monster is paying attention to me.”
“Killing intent… that must be it.” Said Norra.
Gardenia quickly swapped her clothing using the equipment menu. Her dress instantly changed into a set of armor and her sword appeared on her side. She drew the shield that had also appeared on her back and placed her hand on the hilt of her sword.
Then a man in black dropped from the top of one of the nearby buildings. His face was entirely covered with black wraps but Gardenia knew that he was the person that she had senses. Norra tensed up next to Gardenia and also placed her hands on the hilts of her daggers.
The man’s hands were free, not yet touching the hilts of his weapons. Suddenly he spoke, “It looks like I need to put some more work into hiding. I didn’t expect any of you to notice me. But since you did there is no point in continuing to hide.”
“What is it you want?” Asked Gardenia with a rough tone in her voice.
Even behind the wraps they could notice the man smile. “It is easy. Just give me the animal and I will go away and not bother you.”
“No!” Shouted Moira, “I am not giving you Mr. Pots. I am going to protect him.”
“Listen, you say that but you really don’t want to mess with us. It would be easier and quick for you to just hand the creature over and then everything will be peaceful.”
“Don’t mess with you? And who might you be? Not just random assassins right?” Asked Gardenia. “Let me guess, you are Darkside Maw?”
“Oh? You have heard of us? Then you should really know not to cross us. After all, we won’t give up until we accomplish your goal.”
“Is that so. Well, it looks like we have something in common.” Said Gardenia as she drew he sword slowly, “And I hope you are more fun then the last two that I fought.”
“Should I join in?” Asked Norra.
“No, in case there are more of them, make sure to keep an eye on Moira.”
The man shook his head and began to draw his own blades. They were shorter than Gardenia’s sword but longer than Norra’s daggers. They also had serrated edges. He took a fighting stance, one that Gardenia did not recognize.
Gardenia took a couple of steps down the stairs putting herself on the same landing that the assassin was standing on. Not letting her get good positioning the man immediately began to rush forward, he short swords moving in perfect harmony. They came from different directions but that wasn’t much of an issue for Gardenia who blocked one of the attacks with her shield and another with her sword.
However the assassins blades practically danced. The one that bounced off the shield snaked downward to get under her guard while the other sword weaved forward and backward threatening to strike at any time if Gardenia made a mistake. His two weapon style was incredible.
Yet his sword again bounced harmlessly of Gardenia’s shield. While the man’s movements might be top quality Gardenia had last since moved into the realm of expert skills and he would need more than slick swordplay to defeat her.
⎡Flame Arena⎦ she called out. The fires flickered around her and the encircled both her and the assassin, trapping them together in a small arena. The heat from the flames could be felt by both participants but Gardenia was used to it.
She grinned at the assassin, “Getting in close with a tank, not the best idea. Let us see how long you can last against me.”
“You think just because you have trapped me that you are going to win?” There was a hidden smirk that the man was making. “You are sorely wrong.” His movements began to speed up, the swords moving quicker than before.