The plight of a newbie
Why did the cracking just stop? I should have already hatched! thought Zero as he squirmed in his shell.
“Why is it so difficult to break through a damn egg!” Frustrated, Zero tried punching through the hard egg shell, but all he was able to do was hurt his own hand.
“This isn’t going anywhere. This shell is too strong and I’m too weak.” He never imagined his first life-and-death struggle would be against his own shell. Despite being in the process to be hatched, he hadn’t eaten anything in a week. His satiety bar was empty, and he was going to starve to death very soon.
In the faint light appearing through the cracks, he looked down upon his body. It was a bit difficult to move around, but eventually he was able to take a peek.
Wait… are these paws? How am I supposed to break through with this?
|Would you like assistance breaking through the egg?|
“Yes!” There was no time for dawdling.
|Please use your egg tooth on your nose to tap on the shell repeatedly. The egg tooth will fall off when the task is completed.|
As he tried to touch it with his paw, he sensed something sharp and solid sticking out of his nose.
He rammed his nose into the shell, and a large piece of the shell broke free.
“It worked!” He squirmed happily.
For the next five minutes, Zero continued to use his egg tooth. Extending out his paws, he tried to clear the opening.
“So cute. Is that a paw coming out?” Agnis’s curiosity got the better of her, and she touched Zero’s small black paws.
“Waaaahh. Its paws are so fluffy.” Her fingers tickled Zero paws, making him itch. Zero tried to swat away Agnis’s hand because it was making it more difficult for him to do his job.
“Would you like to give it a name?” asked the shop owner.
“He already has a name,” said Agnis, confused.
“Excuse me? All pets are given a name. I’ve never heard of a pet that already has one,” said the shop owner, also sounding confused. He peers over towards Zero with surprise.
“He calls himself Zero,” Agnis responded while continuing to zealously pat Zero’s extremely fluffy and soft paws.
“It must be a telepathic link that you both share,” said the shop owner as if he knew what they were going through.
Zero’s strength slowly left his body. With the last burst of his strength, he chipped away just enough for him to get out of the shell. A small, hairy fur ball emerged, covered in clear, sticky slime.
|You feel very exhausted. It is best to rest or you will die.|
What the…I wasn’t supposed to make that sound, he thought as he looked around with wide eyes, embarrassed. The world around him was blurry with different colors blending into each other as a blob. He blinked a couple of times to refocus his eyes. A soft lingering smell of peach, fresh grass, and old musty wood wafted through his nose. It reminded him of fresh smell of spring with mixture of the forest. His eyes refocused, he looked around with curiosity.
It was a small shop, very homey, and a bit crowded with different multi-colored eggs ranging from five to twelve littered in small brown nests. There were variety of different shapes and sizes. Some were large as an ostrich egg, others were tiny like a quail’s egg, there were some that had an odd looking lump growing out of the eggs, and a rare few looked sinister and diseased.
Each variety of nests was placed all over the shop, in-between cracks in the wall, hanging down from the ceiling, on tables, and a couple in the cash register. Not a single space was wasted, every corner of the shop were stuffed with a nest filled with eggs. Even the plaque naming the eggs was slightly skewed and hand-painted. He wondered how people could read a couple of the words because the characters were badly written.
Soft chirping sounds could be heard throughout the shop as new pets were born from their eggs. It was not an annoying sound, it was manageable. There were a couple of loud chirps here and there, but those were not as often as the soft chirps.
Zero eyes rested upon the shopkeeper. The shopkeeper was a skinny guy. He did not have much muscle; his skin was slightly brown with weaves in his hair. His brown clothes were loose and comfortable. It was not baggy, but had a couple of buttons missing here and there. A couple areas on his skin had smudges of dirt.
The shopkeeper said, “Pets are very hungry when they hatch. Would you like to buy some food for your pet?” A wide variety of expensive and different flavored pet food was presented to Agnis.
Zero lay down exhausted on the counter, and closed his eyes.
“I’ll get back to you on that.” Agnis said.
Agnis poked Zero. “Hey, you alright? Ooooo, you have nice fur.”
Zero stared up at her. Agnis was wearing all-blue, dress-like armor. An elegant brown wooden bow was slung on her shoulder, and three different styles of katanas were tightly strapped to her back. Her hair was white like snow and was pulled back, showing her pointed ears. I’m surprised, her appearance hasn’t changed much from outside the game.
Slowly he attempted to get up, but he felt too weak to even lift up his head for more than a few seconds. “ Fooood,” Zero whined at her, his voice squeaking and rasping.
Agnis sighed. “Fine.” She paid for the food, but Zero felt his hair rose. For a split moment he could hear her thinking You are going to pay me back a hundredfold, kuhuehue.
The pet shop owner shook a bag of kibble. It had a picture of a monster holding a spoon in its mouth and smiling. He poured it gently into a silver bowl, and Zero’s stomach grumbled. It felt like his stomach was about to eat itself. For once he thought the pet food actually looked good.
Agnis brought the food over to Zero. She picked him up gently and plopped him into the food bowl; his size didn’t extend past the circumference of the bowl. He gobbled down the food stuffing his cheeks. For some odd reason it tasted like high quality chicken meat that been barbequed well.
“You’re so adorable! I wish I could keep a pet like this,” Agnis squealed in delight.
As Zero happily ate his food, he felt an ominous chill run down his spine. Slowly turning around, he saw a wicked smile on Agnis’s face as she gently stroked his fur. Zero was suddenly filled with a sense of dread and foreboding.
“Excuse me, but did that pet just talk?” The shop owner examined Zero, lifting up his tail.
“Hey!” Zero snapped at the owner’s hand. The shop owner jumped back in surprise.
“Whaaa? It seems to be a dangerous breed. Madam, you definitely will have trouble raising it,” said the shop owner as he poked Zero with a stick that he grabbed from one of the nearby nest. He was trying to keep Zero away from furiously biting into his hands.
When Agnis inspected Zero closely, she noticed his name was bright red with a black star symbol next to it.
“Oh, Wow. You have a killer mark over your status name. You’ve even got a black star. That doesn’t happen very often,” said Agnis. Her eyes widened.
“What does that mean?” Zero asked as he devoured his food. A couple of kibbles fell out of his mouth.
“It’s quite an achievement. Even when players kill one another, their names just get listed in red. To get a black star, you have to cause a disruption to the society in Noriene. More stars can appear, depending on the amount of disruption you cause.”
“I’m guessing that’s from the -255 infamy points, but a black star—what do you mean?” Zero stopped eating and stared up at her.
“Infamy points? Already? You were just born! A black star tells you how dangerous you are. The higher the stars, the more dangerous the player is. Five is the max a player can get up to.” She kept petting him on his head. His head bobbed up and down from petting.
“I’m level one with one black star? My attacks barely harm anyone… I feel so small compared to you. Would you quit petting me?” Zero said with annoyance and flicked her hand off his head.
“Awww, but you’re so cute. You are all black with some gold dots all over your body. You are like a mix between a fox and a dog. Not only that, your fur feels irresistibly soft! Hey, could you give me some to make clothes with?” she prattled on as she picked him up and cuddled him.
Zero tried hard to get out of her grasp. Her arms were getting squeezing him tighter and tighter trying to not let him go.
“My lady, are you willing to sell that pet?” The male elf player who was trying to buy the egg first came up and asked.
Zero watched the tall elf man kneel, take Agnis’s hand, and kiss it gently. Agnis froze up as if she didn’t know what to do. The elf man acted like he was a prince and she was the princess. He noticed that the elf had a long rapier belted to his waist. On each inside of his thighs there were two long daggers safely tucked away in his leather pants. There was also a small metal shine on the insides of both his wrists. He suspected that he was hiding some throwing knives there. Strapped to his back was a very elegant long black bow that went well with his complete silverish black and red outfit. Six small round black smoke bombs dangled on his silverish black armored chest. He stood back up. His short golden hair shimmered under the light as he moved.
Using the opportunity, Zero struggled out of Agnis’s hold. “No, she is not. I am not a thing,” he growled at him. He forced his way on top of Agnis arm.
The man raised his eyebrows in surprise. “That’s quite an intelligent NPC pet,” he said with a smile.
“I’m telling you I’m not a pet! I’m a PLAYER!” He arched his back like a cat.
“I’ve never heard of a player going into a pet contract before. So how much would you sell it for?” The man tried to pick him up. Zero slashed at his face with unretracted claws and opened his mouth.
“STINK BOMB!” He spewed it into the male player’s face and dug his claws into the elf’s chest.
|Fame has decreased by 1!
You have damaged the reputation of the store owner’s shop and Stunned the enemy for duration of 15 seconds.
“Lady, please control your pet! Call out HEEL!” the shopkeeper quickly gave instructions to Agnis to avoid even more damage to the shop’s reputation. Coughing up blood from the horrid Stink Bomb attack, the shop keeper quickly retreated back behind the counter. Cowering underneath the table trying not to inhale more smoke, on the other hand the elf was kneeling over coughing hard.
Agnis had no choice. “Zero, Heel!” she yelled and covered her nose.
A shock of blue electric lightning zapped Zero, stunning him for a couple of seconds. He fell off the elf man’s clothes and landed with a thud.
“Yip!” he cried out in pain as he collapsed onto the ground.
This is animal abuse! He raged quietly in his mind. Nothing was more infuriating than being abused.
|You have been temporarily disabled. -15 health points.|
“Huh,” Agnis said. “This is actually pretty useful.” She poked Zero with her foot.
“This is animal cruelty! You are forbidden to use that ever again! I want to break this stupid pet contract!” Zero spat, enraged. He wavered as he got up. “Calm down, it’s a companion contract,” said Agnis as she poked him a bit more.
“And that is?” He looked at her, peeved.
“A pet contract makes a pet unable to disobey the owner. A companion contract is more of a mutual friendship contract, and no rights are taken except for one ‘heel’ function that’s only allowed to be used once a day. There are other benefits, too, but there are not many known facts about it.” said Agnis happily as she looked through her information window. Zero calmed down at the thought of it not being what he feared the most. A pet contract.
“A companion contract, I can work with that.”
“Great.” She smiled.
“Ahem.” The male elf cleared his throat to get their attention. “Pretty lady, it seems it will not accept a male owner. Well then, I must give up on it. May I have your name?” he asked as he smiled warmly at Agnis.
“Agnis.” Her face flushed as her eyes met his. She held her hands behind her back.
“I’m Zeraph. Do you mind if I register you as a friend?” As Zeraph winked at her, Zero rolled his eyes. This good-guy knight-in-shining-armor act was starting to get on his nerves.
“Sure. Oh, and that pet is actually a player. It might be a new race,” said Agnis.
“Really? How do you know this?” Zeraph looked at her curiously. Zero was curious as well.
“Um…I’m a hidden GM,” she whispered. She looked around nervously; hoping nobody else caught what she’d said.
“A what?” Zero looked at her, a bit confused.
“A Game Master,” Agnis said a bit too loudly. Luckily, nobody was around to hear what she said—the shop owner was still hiding behind the counter.
“Oh.” Zero didn’t expect to luckily find one. Finding a GM could be beneficial only if the GM wanted to help. Most GMs knew the game well enough to know the danger areas of the game, and could even give them a heads up for new promotions, classes, and upcoming events. Also if they found problems in the game they had a direct link to the headquarters of the game company. “How?”
“I applied for the position a week ago. It doesn’t mean I get any special privileges or status. I am like other players. My first job right now is to look for any bugs or problems in the game and report them back.”
“I see. That explains why you already knew that he was a new race.” Zeraph turned towards Zero. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you. I thought you were an NPC.” He crouched down.
“I would have been fooled too if I didn’t know him. Even us GMs are not given all the information about all the races. We only have the current ones just like everybody else. I’m guessing there’s a reason for it. Why don’t you friend him? He’s really a player.” Agnis glanced down at Zero with eyes that told him that she would murder him if he didn’t friend him. Zero took a couple of steps back, a bit unnerved by Agnis’s aura. He felt like she would cook him for dinner if he didn’t accept.
Zeraph looked at Zero. “Do you mind?” It was as if he sparkled every time he punctuated his words. Zero pretended to hurl on the side. Agnis squinted at him with contempt.
They both registered one another.
“I’m quite surprised that Growth has such a unique function.” Zeraph got up and brushed off his clothes. “It’s unheard of for a player to be born from an egg.”
Zero rolled his eyes. He opened his status menu. I forgot I have this transform ability. I wonder what it will do, he thought.
Beginner Level 1. (0%)
Human Form- (mp cost 10) An ability that will allow you to turn into a human. Can stay in human form indefinitely.
You can only stay in this form for 1 hour. Once the time limit is over, you will transform back into your human form. It is possible to stay in this form for a longer period of time as you level up. The cool down time is 6 hours.
Hmm. Three forms. That’s interesting. I wonder what each one does. Let’s try it out.
“Transform into human!’
“Zero, I don’t think that is a good idea right now,” said Agnis worriedly. A couple of players had come into the shop and were looking at them curiously.
Zero’s body grew longer and taller, turning him into a five-year-old child. He trembled in the cold. He looked down and was shocked. He was completely naked. With his hands he tried to cover himself and frantically looked around, but there wasn’t anything to cover him with.
“I warned you…Now you’re naked. Are you going to parade around like that?” Agnis said without a single blush showing on her face.
Zero turned bright red. Agnis folded her arms across her chest and tapped her foot impatiently.
“I don’t think you want to go streaking outside where thousands of players are at. You might go viral. Pfft. That’s not a bad idea. I wonder if I could get some money off it,” said Agnis as she chuckled to herself.
“Your sarcasm is not appreciated.” Zero glared at her.
“Who’s saying I’m being sarcastic?” She looked at him innocently. She was like an alligator that caught its prey and was ready to go into a death roll. “By the way, it seems that in human form your red mark is gone. That’s strange,” said Agnis as she circled around him, looking for the red mark. Zero inched back from her inspection. It was making him really uncomfortable.
“No clue.” Zero shrugged it off. He wasn’t too worried about it right now. His main concern was clothes.
“Change back into Origin!” exclaimed Zero. Once again Zero turned back into his small fox/dog form.
“I’m sorry to interrupt you both, but I have a request for Zero,” said the shop owner loudly behind the counter. For a moment, Zero had forgotten all about the store owner that was present there as well. He turned around.
“Sure?” said Zero, tilting his head slightly to the right. He felt stronger now and was able to move without any trouble. He jumped up on the counter.
“It seems you’re a unique species that even I don’t know much about. I think you are the perfect candidate to do the job.” The shop owner tapped his fingers anxiously on the counter.
“And that is….?” Zero slinked slowly away.
“I want you to infiltrate an underground black market slave trade that sells rare monsters, humans, and other races. It is held on a weekend around midnight at the Mansion of Dion. I only need you to go there and find me someone. He goes by the name Tino. He is my brother. This shop was named after him. Please, you are the perfect spy for this job,” said the shop owner with a tone of sadness in his voice. His brow furrowed as he pleaded to Zero.
“Sir, I’m sorry, but I was just born. I can barely defend myself. Wouldn’t it be better if you have someone who is stronger than I?” Zero tried to back away from this unwanted quest. He felt like this quest was going into the lion’s den, where he would get eaten alive. It was better to stay out of trouble as much as possible. Taking such a quest when he was just born would be a suicide mission.
“It is rare to come across someone as unique as you. Please accept this quest.” The shopkeeper got down on his knees, and his eyes filled with tears.
“What about Agnis here? She’ll probably pass with flying colors,” said Zero. He pointed his nose towards her.
“No, it is not enough. Please do not refuse.” Zero was backed up on the edge and he was about to fall off the counter.
Zero sighed. “Okay. I’ll do it.” He dropped his head in submission. It seem like he couldn’t get away from this dreaded quest.
The woe of the Pet TraderThe owner of Tino Shop, Tyrell, has requested that you find a missing person named Tino at the Black Market Slave trade in the Mansion of Dion. This month the trade takes place on Saturday at midnight every week. He asked that you find information about his brother. Infiltrate the base as a specimen for the black market trade. You must go with your partner. It is recommended to go on any one of the Saturdays.
Difficulty Level: C
Requirements: A pet that has been contracted or is a unique race. Also the owner must join.
Reward: Special item will be given depending on the information. If you save Tino you will be rewarded handsomely.
Failure: No rewards will be given if Tino dies. Failure will decrease your fame and will be blacklisted in all pet stores.
“I’ll do what I can,” he said dejectedly. The shop owner whooped with joy and did a small dance.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” said the shop owner. He picked up Zero and twirled him around, kissing him on his head.
“Aw, gross. Keep your mouth to yourself,” said Zero as he was about to hurl from disgust. He smacked the shop owner in the face a couple of times with his paws.
“I got the quest too. Strange. I didn’t even accept it. I’m guessing it’s because I’m your partner?” said Agnis confused as she looked through the quest.
“It’s a level C Quest. I’m guessing it’s not too hard?” said Zero with little interest.
Agnis’s mouth dropped open. “What are you talking about? C is for players level 50 and up. Don’t you know your quest ranking system?”
Zero shook his head slowly.
She let out a big sigh. “Are you really a gamer?” said Agnis. She said the next part as if talking to an idiot. “The lowest level quests, for newbies like us to do, are Level E. From E it goes to D, C, B, A, S, and SS. There might be a SSS rank, but that’s just a rumor.”
“O..h…” He hadn’t expected the ranks to go up so high. But he didn’t like Agnis’s tone. Even though he did not know much about the game, he was a very quick learner.
Zero turned toward the shop owner. “By any chance do you know where I can buy some equipment?” he asked. The shop owner took out a pencil and paper and drew a simple map.
“Go outside, take a right, and in a couple blocks down there will be a General store. If you get to the Phoenix Inn, you’ve gone too far.”
Zero hopped off the counter and trotted towards the door. The moment he pushed open the door, his eyes were blinded by the bright light. He squinted. Fancy merchant shops lined the sides of the street. It was crowded and busy with merchants selling items, while new players with tattered clothes were running around doing their quests. Bards played lovely music, and dancers performed in the square. Curious pedestrians turned their heads towards Zero.
“What is that? Is that a dog?” said one of the dancers as she pointed at Zero.
“Awww, it looks so cute. I want one!” said a young girl as she pulled on her mother’s arms.
“Hey, that dog monster has a killer mark over its head. It looks vicious!” yelled a man out to the crowd.
“Stay away from it. It’s not going to be a good idea to even be near it,” said one of the newbie players as he pushed back his friend with worry.
“Agnis, are you coming?” said Zero. He looked behind him.
“I’m right behind you.”
Both Zeraph and Agnis followed right after.
“Kyaah, that guy next to the girl is so hot. I want his number,” swooned one of the female players. Many females looked upon Zeraph with hearts forming in their eyes.
“Wait, did that dog just talk?” said a newbie player.
Players inched over as they become more curious about him.
“Is that the new update the company was talking about?” said a player as they talked amongst themselves.
A young boy with curly red hair walked up to Zero. His short stubby legs tripped over and fell grasping Zero’s fur. A sharp yank could be felt. The kid dropped to his knee and hugged Zero tightly. As the kid reoriented himself, he began to ruffle Zero’s fur and pet him.
“Hey, kid. I’m not a dog. Stop that. Ouch! That hurts.” Zero grimaced in pain from the sharp pull of his ears. The young boy was enjoying Zero’s fluffy fur and his downy soft ears. Zero couldn’t take it anymore and pushed the boy aside. Stumbling backwards, the boy cried out loud.
“That dog just attacked the poor child!” gasped an old lady as she fell backward and fainted. A couple of people caught her just before she hit the ground.
“Someone call the guards!” yelled a man frantically.
“Nice one, Zero. You’re creating more of a scene for yourself.” Agnis looked at Zero in disbelief.
“I’m not a dog.” Zero growled. He hated how the world treated him like some kind of animal, and he especially disliked being in this restricting form at this moment. It was creating too much of an attention.
“Well you sure do look like one at this angle.” Agnis tilted her head as she exam Zero.
Zero sighed and sat down in front of the boy. If he wanted to get this problem solved, he needed to deal with the kid first. “Hey, kid, where’s your mom?”
“I….I don’t know,” the kid sniffled.
Zero shook his head in disbelief. Now I have a lost kid, a crazy woman, crazy people who think I attacked a kid, and a guy who tried to buy me. What is this game coming too.
“Kid, let’s go find your mom.” Zero nudged the boy’s hands.
The kid brightened up and laughed. “Really?”
“Yeah, before I change my mind.” Zero stood up. He just wanted this problem to go away.
Find the lost child’s motherThe young boy has strayed away from his mother and is now lost. Find the kid’s mother in the Kingdom of Terra.
Difficulty Level: E
Restriction: A contracted pet.
Let’s use this creature’s form to its fullest ability. Even though I don’t like it much, let’s see what I can do. What was it that animals are good at? Oh yeah. They have really good noses. Let’s try it out. He sniffed around the child like a dog. All of a sudden he could see different colored aura-like trails connecting to different people.
|You have learned a new ability! Keen Nose Beginner level 1 (0%)
Keen Nose allows you to track and differentiate different smells of people. Be wary of strong smells. They can confuse you.
“Did you just sniff his clothes?” Zeraph raised his eyebrows.
“Bwhahahaha. You’re becoming more like a dog. Are you sure you’re not a dog, Zero?” Agnis slapped her knees as she laughed hysterically. She was having a difficult time trying to keep herself from falling over.
“I pray to god I’m not,” said Zero and he ignored Agnis.
Zeraph paced around Zero with even more curiosity. “Your character is quite fascinating. It’s a shame. You would be such a great tracker.”
Zero ignored his comment and begun to use his nose. He followed the pink line that was sticking to the kid’s body. They walked down the town square where merchants were selling goods. Thousands of different-colored smells wafted through the square, and a couple of time Zero almost lost the mother’s scent. This is a lot more difficult than I thought.
Zeraph walked beside Agnis as Zero was in the lead. “So how did you two even meet?” asked Zeraph curiously.
“He broke my phone so he’s paying me back with labor,” said Agnis without any remorse in her voice.
“Ah, I see. That’s quite a meeting.”
“What about you? Why were you at the shop?” said Agnis. Her white hair fell down her face as she peered up at Zeraph.
“I heard about the famous 100 million gold egg, and I was luckily walking by that shop and decided to drop in. By the way, may I know your levels?” said Zeraph as he quietly walked next to them.
“I’m a level 15 wood elf. My job is undecided. I didn’t have time to play this week so I’m pretty low, but I was lucky enough to get all the free stats,” said Agnis happily. “You don’t know how difficult that was. I don’t want to do that again.”
“Impressive,” said Zeraph.
“I’m a level 1,” Zero said. “Undecided on the job, and I’m a hybrid human race that’s unknown.” He continued to sniff around from side to side, trying to keep track of the parent’s trail.
“I’m level 50. A hybrid water elf. I still haven’t figured out what I want to do either. It’s a bit difficult to find the so-called unique jobs,” said Zeraph as he ran his fingers through his hair.
“A hybrid water elf? I have never heard of that. How many different species of elves are there?” asked Zero.
“Well, that’s the thing. We don’t know,” Agnis said. “This game originally started out with Elves, Dwarves, Humans, and Trolls. Then there are different branches of these races that live in unique terrains. This game has only been out for eight months. We haven’t explored even a twelfth of the world yet. This continent is the only continent that is considered to be safe to live in. It’s been getting pretty crowded on the Fire Continent lately from the explosion of users. There are rumors that the larger guilds are getting ready to explore the neighboring Electric Continent east of the Fire Continent.”
“Only one twelfth?” Zero said with surprise.
“Yep. By discovering new places, new races appear,” Agnis replied, sounding excited.
Zero laughed. “You’re a bit geeky about this stuff, aren’t you?”
Agnis became embarrassed. “Hey, I love this game. I read all the gossip and news and guides. Have you guys thought about what jobs that you might want to have?” she asked as she looked at each of them.
“Well, I was thinking more on the line of a fighting type. Not really sure yet,” said Zeraph as he scratched his chin.
“What kind of jobs are there?” asked Zero.
Agnis dove into the explanation. “There are three main types of job classes. They can be divided into Magic, Warrior, or Specialized class. Magic job classes are magicians, bards, dancers, enchanters, summoners, and priests. The Warrior types are paladins, warriors, barbarians, thieves, and hunters. Then we go into the Specialized types that are tamers, merchants, and blacksmiths. Out of the main jobs you are allowed to choose one. You can change jobs later on, but it takes extra steps and requirements. The jobs that the Yami Hikari Company is looking for are special quest jobs. When you take on these jobs they become main jobs that are magic, warrior, or specialized classes. Those are more difficult to find. There are also secondary classes: artists, cooks, maids, butlers, farmers, fishermen, etc…” Agnis was talking so fast that she ran out of air. She wheezed a big breath before finishing, “Those can be obtained anywhere without much trouble. You get one main job and one secondary job.”
Both Zeraph and Zero looked at her with awe.
“The specialized jobs are either a hit or a miss,” said Agnis, who seemed a bit worried about finding hers.
“Turn right on this corner. The smell is getting stronger. I think we are almost there,” said Zero as he trotted faster towards the smell.
“Dillion!!! Where are you, Dillion?!” The voice of a worried mother could be heard over the crowd. The boy let go and ran to his mother.
“Dillion! Where did you run off to? I told you not leave my side!”
The boy pointed at Zero. “Doggie brought me home,” he said with a cheerful smile.
“Oh really?” The mother’s eyes were wide with fright. “Are you sure, Dillion? That doggie looks a little bit mean.” She drew her son closer to her body.
“Mhmm. His fur is really soft,” said the boy as he looked up towards his mother. Inching forward carefully, the mother slowly walked up towards Zero and his group.
“Thank you for finding my child. I was worried about where he disappeared to. Here. Please have this.”
She gave Zero honeyed bread and tied a small collared necklace around Zero’s neck. It looked exactly like a dog ID tag.
You have returned the lost boy to his mother. The mother is grateful for finding her child, but she is still a bit wary of you. Children will more likely come and play with you in your hybrid form. You have received honey bread and a small collared necklace. +10 in fame.
“The dog’s fur is really soft.” The mother patted Zero’s head. She gave her thanks to them and left with Dillion.
“I told you. Now that completes the set. You are officially a dog,” snickered Agnis.
This infuriating woman. I swear I’m going to get back at her one day, he cursed silently.
“Identify small collared necklace.”
|Small Collared Necklace
A necklace that has been handcrafted by Dillion’s mother. Provides the feeling of a mother’s warmth. Children will trust you and will come to you when you’re in your hybrid form.
+ 15 fame
|You have leveled up!|
|You have leveled up!|
|All status points that you have gained through leveling will be automatically updated by the course of actions, strategies, and play style that you have taken.|
“Huh? So you can’t update the status points manually? This is going to anger a lot of people.” Zero looked at his menu. It was a very unusual thing to have a game where the player did not need to boost their status.
“Actually, that’s the strange thing about this game,” Agnis said. “It updates the status points the way you want without you having to manually input them every time you level up. It’s like it already knows where you want it to go. The game also seems to factor in your gaming style, and it changes the status around so it fits your style. So far people are saying that no two avatars are alike.”
“I don’t know if that’s good or bad,” said Zero as he trotted next to Agnis. Things like this could upset the balance of the game. Then again, it could be a huge advantage and something he didn’t need to tediously manually input.
Zeraph interrupted their conversation. “Well, guys, it’s time for me to go,” he said as he turned around towards Agnis. “It was truly a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Agnis,” said Zeraph as he gave her a wink and a dazzling smile. “I hope to see you again.”
“Nice meeting you,” said Agnis. She didn’t seem giggly about him anymore. Maybe the flirting was getting on her nerves.
“If you guys ever want to party, just call me.” Zeraph motioned his hand into a phone near his head.
Zero nodded and watched Zeraph walk off into the distance. This idiot is a lady-killer. He shook his head. He knew a lot of guys like him that got ladies really easily.
“Now to the item shop,” said Zero as he headed towards the shop.
“We are actually close to the one the shop owner directed us to,” said Agnis as she pointed where they needed to go. They both headed towards their destination.
The doorbell rung as the door to the item shop opened.
They were greeted by a woman with a broad smile. “Hello. Welcome to my shop. I am Sara. How may I help you?”
Zero jumped on top of the counter. “Excuse me, do you have any clothes that will fit a five-year-old child?” asked Zero as he talked to Sara. He needed clothes now; his time limit was going to be over soon, and when that time came he would be naked.
“A dog? Lady, can you please get your dog off my counter? Its paws will dirty it,” Sara said, annoyed.
“Hey, lady! Are you really going to ignore me?” said Zero with an irritated voice.
“Zero! Watch it—your infamy is going to go up if you keep antagonizing her.” Agnis pulled Zero back.
Zero stopped and pondered for a moment. An idea hit him. “Please, madam, do you have any clothes that a five year old can wear?” asked Zero as he showed the most adorable eyes he had ever made towards Sara. He gave a full blown attack of puppy-dog eye.
“Kyaaah! So cute!” Sara picked up Zero and twirled him around. Zero’s head bobbed back and forth from spinning around.
“Ugh…I’m going to throw up,” said Zero. His face was turning green from dizziness. He was trying his best not to throw up on Sara. Finally she stopped spinning them.
“Yes. I do have some.” She placed Zero down onto the floor. “Would you like armor or basic wear?”
“B-Black basic wear with a bit of gold accent on it please,” said Zero as he steadied himself.
“That will be ten coppers please,” said Sara as she extended her hands out towards Zero.
Zero looked at his meager stash of money. He had 50 coppers, a water skin, five stale bread, and one honey bread.
I’m so broke. He looked dejectedly in his inventory menu. He wished he had more. “Here you go…” He sighed heavily as he handed the coppers to Sara.
“Thank you for your purchase,” said Sara cheerfully. She handed Zero his new clothes. Zero reached into the paper bag and laid them out neatly for him to pick up when he transformed.
“Transform into human!” Zero shifted, and he changed into his new clothes.
“They’re a bit baggy, but it’ll be fine,” said Zero, pleased. This was the best he could get for now.
“You ready?” asked Agnis. “Today you’ll be helping me level up.”
“I’m a level three. How am I supposed to help you?” Zero stared at her in disbelief. He didn’t know if she was crazy or was trying to use him as a meat shield. Either way he didn’t like where this was going.
“Well, I want to try something out. I’ll meet you just outside the gates on the South side. If you’ve got anything else to do, do it now.” Agnis turned towards the door and left the store first.
Zero arrived in front of the southern gate and saw Agnis leaning against the wall.
“What took you so long?” asked Agnis, looking peeved.
“I went to get some extra bread. I didn’t know potions were so expensive,” said Zero, slightly annoyed. He had shopped around the item stores, weapon stores, and even the herb store just to see what the prices were. Everything was ridiculously expensive.
“They’re not easy to make and there are only a certain number of them. Players and residents eat food in this game. Now, I’m going to grab a horned rabbit and aggravate it so it focuses its attack on me. I want you to go in for the kill,” directed Agnis.
“What? Wouldn’t it be faster if you did it?” asked Zero, confused.
“No. We are not in a party together yet. I wanted to see what this new companion contract is all about.”
Agnis pulled out her wooden bow, focusing on a horned rabbit grazing on the grass. She nocked an arrow. She carefully aimed at the horned rabbit and let the arrow fly towards it. With a whoosh, the arrow impaled itself into the rabbit’s foot.
Squeaking loudly with pain, the rabbit’s eyes glowed red, and it charged towards Agnis.
“Well, it’s better than nothing. Okay, now!” yelled Agnis as she stepped back into a solid stance, waiting for the attack. As the rabbit jumped in the air, Zero rushed from behind and attacked the back of its neck with his bare hands. The rabbit was stunned for a few seconds.
“That didn’t do much damage,” said Zero as he looked at the horned rabbit’s health bar. His attack had only chipped away 10% of its health.
“Hurry up and aim again!” shouted Agnis from the back.
With a rapid seven-hit combo strike, Zero aimed at the same location, and he finished it off with a crescent ax kick. From training, he had gone through grueling task of honing his body, repetitively aiming for precise areas so his attacks would be ingrained in muscle memory. In the virtual world, his avatar could perform almost identical movements.
“Nice form. I’m a bit surprised though that your attack is weak. Did you really get an increase in stats?” said Agnis. She skinned the rabbit and put the pelt in her bag.
“Yeah. Let me check. Status Menu.”
|Name: Zero||Race: Hybrid Human unknown
|Level: 3||Main Job: None
Secondary Job: None
|Health points: 700||Mana Points: 650|
|Magical Attack: 8
Magical Defense: 8
Fame: 25 (+15)
+ Transform beginner level 1 (25%)
+ Keen Hearing beginner level 2 (50%)
+ Stink Bomb beginner level 3 (7%)
+ Keen Nose beginner level 1 (50%)
+ Stink Bomb beginner level 3 (7%)
+ Keen Nose beginner level 1 (50%)
|Info: A hybrid human that is born from an Egg. No data of the species is known. A small bounty is placed on your head. The bounty will not be active for a month in game time.|
“What? My status got cut in half?!” He stared at it, dumbfounded. He didn’t expect to see such a huge disadvantage.
“That’s some serious handicap.” She looked upon him appalled. “Sadly you can’t change what you are born into, but on the bright side, whenever you kill something, I automatically get experience points. It’s also the same way when I kill a monster. You should at least get 10% of it.” She paused for a moment as she pulled up her menu, “It also states here that we need to be within five miles of each other for it to be in effect,” said Agnis, reading from her skills menu page.
Zero was completely exhausted. He took a seat on the ground next to her. “Whew. That actually put a strain on my body. I forgot how limited it is to be a kid. Give me a second to catch my breath.” He wheezed heavily. This was a bit more difficult than he’d thought. His stamina was low, and he tired out easily.
“I’m going to go kill some more. Just stay close to me and you’ll be able to leech off me,” said Agnis as she puts her hands on her hips.
“Eh? You’re okay with that?” Zero eyes became wide with surprise.
“For now, yeah. If you push yourself too hard you can die of overexertion. That’s kind of a pathetic way to die if you ask me. I’ll be close by. Catch your breath and follow after.” Agnis walked off towards a group of horned rabbits.
She actually has a kind side to her, thought Zero. He didn’t expect to see this side of Agnis and thought she was always so stuck up. Huh. I have a different opinion about her now. Zero waited for a couple minutes and then followed after.
Over the next five hours, Agnis and Zero found a strategy to dispatch the rabbits as quickly as possible. Agnis drew in as many as she could handle, and Zero attacked them from their blind spots. Most of the time Agnis got the last kill, but either way Zero still gained experience.
Finally, Agnis called for them to stop. “I’ve got to go for now,” she said. “Try to level up so we can go after stronger monsters. We need to be stronger to complete a C-level quest, so it’s best to go a bit longer. Game time is a lot faster than real life. I’ll see you around,” said Agnis. She waved goodbye and logged out.
“Finally some peace and quiet. I can do what I want to do for a while.” The game was already growing on him. He didn’t mind playing such games. Usually he enjoyed first-person shooters more than role playing games.
Zero looked around and saw an herb with a question mark. He walked up to it.
|You have identified Tulip.
This plant’s tubular roots are very poisonous if eaten. High doses may cause death.
“Not bad.” He pulled out the plant and stored it in one of his two bags. Zero searched around for more plants and trees, but behind one of the bushes a large, long-horned, pure-white rabbit jumped out. Following right after were seven small, brown, horned rabbits.
“Oh crap,” Zero said, jumping backwards away from the rabbits. He dashed off but was chased by the mini boss Lucky Horned Rabbit. This mini boss was usually for players who were above level 50, and Zero was not even close to level 15. The small horned rabbits attacked in zigzag motion as Zero attacks missed, while the Lucky Rabbit attacked him head-on. One of the rabbit hit his legs, making him stumble, and in this brief moment the Lucky Rabbit attacked. It decreased his life points by half.
I can’t keep this up or I’m going to get killed. Am I able to transform now?
Two rabbits aimed attacks at his head, but he dodged just in time.
“Transform into Origin!” he yelled. It worked. His bones shifted and groaned as his body changed into his animal form.
“Lucky! Now let’s get rid of those small rabbits first.” Zero snapped up one of the rabbits in midair and crushed it with his jaws. Three small rabbits simultaneously attacked from above, and he pushed himself off the ground, a hairbreadth away from their horns.
The three small rabbits got caught in the attack and were stunned momentarily. Zero sprinted forward and killed them off one by one. One after the other, the small rabbits attacked Zero from both sides, and he danced out of harm’s way. He rushed towards a large black boulder and the rabbits pursued. Off in the distance, some newbies were watching. It must have been a strange sight: a doglike/foxlike creature being chased by rabbits.
Zero smacked one of the rabbits in the face with his tail and caught it with his mouth. He slammed into another one, crushing it under his weight. At the same time the last rabbit got stunned with his Stink Bomb breath. In one fell swoop he got rid of the last small rabbit, just before he was rammed into by the white horned rabbit and was sent flying towards the black boulder.
“Oppf!” His breath escaped his mouth. “This game can be too realistic,” Zero grumbled.
Even though the small rabbits were gone, he was still struggling. A horn attack come flying towards him at a lightning speed. He pushed himself to the right. As his claws ground against the black boulder, they let off a small electric spark. At the same moment, he used his abilities.
A huge, fiery explosion blew the two back.
“OPPFF.” Zero’s breath was knocked out of him. He lay splayed out on the ground.
|You have leveled up!|
|You have leveled up!|
|You have leveled up!|
|You have leveled up!|
|You have leveled up!|
|Lucky 7 Rabbit Scarf was obtained.
New Skill Exploding Breath was learned.
For defeating a Lucky Rabbit your fame has increased by +50
“Oww.” He sat up. He was badly battered. There were large scrapes and couple missing patches of fur. Here and there, he had burnt fur. It hurt, but he ignored the pain.
“A new ability and a scarf? Nice!” said Zero excitedly. He hadn’t expected new abilities so soon.
“Identify Lucky 7 Rabbit Scarf.”
|Lucky 7 Rabbit Scarf
1/7 chance to obtain a very rare items through a dice roll. A dice will appear for you to cast.
7- a rare item
Level Requirement: 50
Zero pulled out a piece of bread and ate it slowly in order to restore his health.
“Identify Explosion,” he said as he chewed.
|You have learned a new ability! Exploding Breath Beginner level 1 (0%)
An ability that causes an explosion when the Stink Bomb ability and the flint stone are used simultaneously. Be careful or you might be caught up in the blast as well. Cannot be used in human form.
“Flint stone. Hmm.” He looked around, confused. He looked down. Underneath his paws were small black rocks.
|You have identified Flint.
A special type of rock that can be used to make weapons or to spark a fire.
“I’m guessing I created a spark to detonate it. I should go gather some more. It might be useful later on,” said Zero.
He put the small piece of flint into his bag. Looking around, he saw more black rocks scattered around him. He quickly zigzagged from one location to the next to pick up the small pieces with his mouth to store them away. As he was picking up one of the larger flint rocks, something moved in the bush. It startled him to the point of crushing the rocks into thousands of smaller pieces. A small frog jumped out in front of him.
|You have learned a new ability! Crush Beginner level 1 (0%)
Your jaw will be able to crush through rocks. Increasing it will allow you to crush different things. Cannot be used in human form.
“Oh my god…I thought my jaw would break.” With a small puppy-like roar he frightened the frog off. He was a bit annoyed that something so small had startled him.
Throughout the day he collected plants and flints, and he fought horned rabbits in both his forms. When his bags became full, he went into town to store them away.
Zero walked into a storage facility pulling behind him two heavy bags. A young women with red hair looked down from the counter.
“Oh, it’s a kid. How may I help you?” she said with a smile.
“I would like to rent a storage space, please,” said Zero in a whisper. He did not want to draw attention.
“Our smallest unit rents for ten coppers a month. Where’s your mom, kid? Isn’t it too dangerous to be running around by yourself?”
Zero pulled out ten coppers and slid them to her. He gave her his best child-like voice.
“I don’t have parents. Can you please store these?” He dumped the flint stones onto the counter.
“Are you sure? These are rocks.” She looked at him with wide eyes. Rocks were not something she expected to see being stored away.
“Yeah, I know. I’ll be bringing more later,” said Zero, who didn’t notice her surprise.
The women stared stunned. No words escaped her mouth as she looked upon him in disbelief.
“Please hurry. I have a time limit.”
She nodded and continued to store it away.
For a week Zero killed rabbits, mice, and snakes. In his Human form he collected as many flints as possible to level up his skills.
“Just one more rabbit for today,” said Zero in a happy tune. He could not wait to try out a different experiment when he finished collecting the flints.
Zero caked himself completely with mud to dampen his scent from the grazing rabbit and slowly snuck up behind it. He noticed that even in this game real life hunting applied as well. With snake-like precision, he hit the rabbit in the back of its neck with a hand chop. In one hit it snapped the neck clean, giving it a critical damage.
|You have learned a new ability! Precision Point Beginner level 1 (0%)
After countless hits on pressure points of different creatures you have honed the ability to direct your attacks on points that can kill. Critical bonus +10% of every attack that hits a pressure point. Repetitive attacks on one point increase the damage exponentially. Can be used in all forms.
|You have learned a new ability! Camouflage Beginner level 1 (0%)
Using the natural surroundings to create disguises you have learned how to cloak your scent and presence, but it will become ineffective if your smell has been caught by the enemy. Your location could be revealed.
Your agility will be increased. Can be used in all forms.
|You have learned a new ability! Hand Mastery Beginner level 1 (0%)
You have great control of your hand in combat. Able to wield multiple weapons.
Your strength will be increased. Can be used in all forms.
“Not bad. Three new skills and they’re all things that I use in real life. Does this mean that whatever you know in real life can be used here if certain conditions are met?” Zero wondered. Happily whistling, he skinned the rabbit with his sharpened flint knife. It was a gruesome sight to see a kid’s hands covered in blood, gutting a rabbit for its fur and meat.