Humanity Online: World Sanctuary 33 Making An Entrance
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As Nightfall ends, orange-red sunrise bathes Lough Gur Town in fiery light.
When the NPCs wake from their slumber and leave their stone houses, the town is already lively and loud. Hundreds of wide-awake Players explore the shops and hunt for quests. NPCs with the telltale orange names are bombarded by PCs of all nine demihuman races as well as human Players. Most NPCs remain patient and give out quests one after another; some, however, are clearly programmed to be more cantankerous and grumble whenever too many Players swarm them at once.
The Adventure Hall overflows with Players turning in quests and searching for quest and dungeon information. Restaurants and taverns are filled with people experiencing their first virtual meals and alcohol. Players planning to focus on Lifestyle gameplay follow Master NPCs around, trying to trigger quest scenarios to become apprentices.
One area is quiet, however, and has been for a while now. The circular stone platform in the center of town is currently a one-way Teleportation Portal, and every Player has already arrived from their respective Foundation Villages.
Or, at least, almost every Player.
The familiar turquoise glow brightens the platform, drawing the attention of the bustling crowd.
"Is that a Player?"
"No way, it's been 12 hours already. Maybe it's a special NPC!"
"Ooh, good point. It's exactly 12:00 in-game right now. Probably triggered something."
"Sucks to be those poor b.a.s.t.a.r.ds out grinding; they're gonna miss out big time!"
Fourteen-year-old Liam Dunleavy, avatar name Taliesin, joins the throng of Players who crowd around the portal. He's excited to see who or what is arriving in town, but he's always excited, so it's difficult to tell. He pops the last of a warm apple tart into his mouth and clambers atop a nearby thatched roof to snag the perfect view. Then Liam activates the amazing system video function; if this is a special event, this vid could be worth money!
The turquoise portal flashes extra bright, and a dark figure steps through the gateway.
Sunlight glints off his ma.s.sive black wings, and a tattoo moves like smoke and shadow across half his face. A charcoal gray scarf covers his mouth and neck, adding to his mystery.
Liam's sharp eyes take in the D'Raven's impressive gear: the strange sh.e.l.l-and-leather pauldrons, the elaborate designs on the cuira.s.s, the faint sparks emitting from his vambraces, the sparkling gems on his belt.
Everyone else only notices the ripped tunic, the weird cross-body belt wearing, and the short, hot pink boxer briefs with white heart polka dots.
"h.e.l.l, it's not a special NPC. It's just some d.a.m.n noob!"
"How could it take anyone this long to finish the stupid Foundation Village?"
"This jerk's just wasting our time."
Liam frowns at the stupid crowd. It's not like the D'Raven asked anyone to stop what they were doing as he teleported into town. And they're all dumb for thinking taking longer in the Foundation Village automatically means you suck.
Liam had actually managed to unlock a couple of the Chain Quests, so he understood something most of these morons didn't; it's possible this "slow" Player was simply so good, he scored enough S-ratings to unlock so many Chain Quests, he only now finished up.
A red-faced Rakshasa snarls and blocks the newcomer's path. "Who're you?"
The D'Raven looks coolly at the rude demon Player. "Erebus."
Liam grins at the cool name. 'Greek, being of chaos and shadows. Fitting,' the boy thinks.
"Did you know you have 'HERO' written across your a.s.s?" a female Draegkyn asks.
The D'Raven turns toward the sneering girl, and Liam can see that, yep, his boxers have 'HERO' splayed across them in pretty calligraphy.
Liam pretends this doesn't ruin the chaos-and-darkness thing.
For a split second, Erebus' face tightens with what Liam recognizes as that special horrible expression of surprise, panic, embarra.s.sment, and that unique feeling of wis.h.i.+ng the ground might swallow you up.
As a teenager, it's an expression he's intimately familiar with.
But then Erebus does what most teens cannot, and he reins in the awkward. Smoothly, his face falls back into a disinterested smirk, and he looks at the Draegkyn like she's the one who should be embarra.s.sed, not him.
Her face distorts and the few scales on her cheeks turn red. Shoulders hunched, she backs down from his sharp gaze.
The two men with her—one burly Camazotz, one scrawny human—glare at Erebus like he's physically attacked her or something. The D'Raven gives them a flat stare and turns to leave.
Before he can take more than one step, both men charge him with their weapons drawn.
Even though he knows they can't hurt him in a Safe Haven, Liam can't help but call out a warning to the mysterious D'Raven. "Behind you!"
He needn't have bothered.
Quicker than a lightning flash, Erebus disarms both Players with a silver-white blade he draws so fast not even Liam can see where it came from. The Camazotz's war hammer and the human's longsword both go flying; the hammer smashes a bakery window and the sword spears the mortar between two stones of the apothecary.
Murmurs fill the air between the crowd like verbal fog, and everyone takes an involuntary step back.
Unconcerned, the D'Raven uses the extra s.p.a.ce to start walking away again. He looks at his glimmering sword and down at his lack of scabbard, then shrugs and slides it into the elastic of his underwear. Liam figures since underclothes are Immortal Objects, it's not like the sword can hurt them.
"Told you he was a noob," someone whispers loudly. "He doesn't even realize his weapon can be stolen like that. It won't disappear since it's touching him, but it's not officially equipped if it's not in hand or on your belt."
From the twitch of his pointed ears, Liam can tell Erebus hears the speaker. But the D'Raven appears unconcerned, continuing to walk out of the square.
This time, when a Player sneaks up in a clear attempt to steal the awesome sword, Liam doesn't bother with a warning. He has the distinct feeling Erebus knows the guy's coming; if he isn't worried, Liam won't be either.
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"Ha!" the thief cries out in success as he pulls the sword from Erebus' hip.
"Idiot birdbrain deserves it," someone says.
"I should have stolen it first!" someone else bemoans.
"HOLY s.h.i.+T!" someone screams.
Though Liam can barely hear that last bit over the bloodcurdling screams of terror from the thief, who is currently burning alive in an inferno of pure white flame.
Erebus covers his face with his wings, so Liam ducks his head into the straw and closes his eyes.
A voice rings out in the square, knightly and strong: "Justice against the Unworthy!"
Then the flames burn so bright it scalds everyone else's retinas, and the thief is no more.
Only Liam can see Erebus calmly pick his sword back up from where it clattered to the ground.
Only Liam can see the first true, genuine smile to grace the D'Raven's face as he sees what dropped from the thief.
A pair of pants.
With a jaunty spring to his step, Erebus leaves to find his next adventure.
Liam leaps down from the roof to follow him.
He always trusts his gut, and his instincts are telling him this D'Raven will lead him down a path of crazy adventures and epic awesomeness, and seriously, what more can a fourteen-year-old want?
As he weaves through the crowd, the 2-second Blind wears off, and the Players freak out in worry and alarm...until they realize Erebus disappeared already, and they play it off like nothing happened.
"I thought you couldn't attack someone in a Safe Haven!"
"He didn't really attack, though? Didn't the sword kind of do it on its own?"
"The b.a.s.t.a.r.d's still a noob, even if he somehow scored a broken weapon."
"Yeah, it's just making him seem better than he is."
Liam doesn't agree. Before Erebus had left, Liam had engaged one of his racial perks to focus his vision on what looked like an ink-splatter on Erebus' chest armor.
It was a Champion Emblem.
This D'Raven was at least Top 100 in the beta.
Yet he's already convinced a couple hundred people he's a worthless n.o.body, even after disintegrating a Player in the middle of town.
Liam grins. "He makes an entrance, I'll give him that."
Humanity Online: World Sanctuary 33 Making An Entrance
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Humanity Online: World Sanctuary 33 Making An Entrance summary
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