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by Nuraya
Rated: 13+ · Assignment · Action/Adventure · #1994526
Alister tries to woo a friend into courtship, but potentially backs himself into a corner.
An assignment for Creative Writing Now. I've decided to write this partially in the world of an MMORPG, an online role-playing fantasy game (one that, to my knowledge, doesn't exist). Therefore, a lot of the dialogue is in the format of private messages (PM's) and chatbox messages.


*********************


Alister sat down and booted up his desktop, cracking open a chilled energy drink while he waited for the monstrosity to load. He started the MMO he intended to play, The Isles of Fantasy. As free-to-play game, it felt generic to Alister as fantasy role-playing games went, especially compared to the bigger pay-to-play names, but it was entertaining enough. He logged onto the game client and allowed his monitor to be overtaken by the exotically scenic lands.

Always first on his agenda was to check his private messages, his in-game e-mail. He found three new offline messages from his game friends, one from Kat Rophan and two from Ogden Demora, both of them his guildmates. He and Ogden had played together for months, while Kat was newer to the bunch. Ogden had invited her to join the guild.

The three characters occupied the guild alongside a myriad of high-leveled players, and Kat was on the lower end of the totem pole. Her level nineteen elementalist, therefore received a good number of hand-me-downs from the other players. Alister was one to give her a few himself.


He opened the post from Kat first.

Hey Alice. Next time you're in Wonderland I've got a few gifts for you, to repay you for the armor you gave me last week. Don't worry, my potions won't make you shrink. :) PM me when next you've descended the Rabbit Hole.

Alister grinned. Kat, who had a nickname for everyone, was forever making Alice in Wonderland references with him, having started as a play on his real name (which he had let slip in public chat once, unintentionally, being that sharing personal information was highly discouraged by the guild). Ever since, Kat had referred to the game they played together as Wonderland.

Alister played Aldren Fyn, a level fifty-three knight in light armor. Although he was often criticized for not utilizing the grand defensive powers of his class, Alister's preferred method of play was to wear light armor to keep his weight down and allow himself to hone his skills of evasion.

Only after a bombardment of whispers from Ogden in the chat log on the bottom corner of his screen did Alister remember he'd forgotten to bother reading his PM's. Ogden, a level forty-seven troll, burst into his screen where his own character stood idle, Ogden's green warty avatar leaping up and down, sporting a glowing club in one fat fist. Alister focused on his chat window.

[Ogden] whispers: Hey Al
[Ogden] whispers: Al. AL. Hey. Aldren.
[Ogden] whispers: Did you get my messages?
To [Ogden]: Saw them; didn't read
[Ogden] whispers: Then don't bother. I'll tell you now.

Alister stared at his screen a few seconds waiting for a response but when none came he switched back to his private messages screen, ignoring Ogden's PM's, and began to compose a message to Kat, who was listed as offline.

Kat -

Glad you like the boots. I'd love to see what you've got for me. If you have any new buff potions you can make, especially anything to increase evasion, let me know and I'll give you ingredients.

Just before Alister could send out his message to her, a new whisper from Ogden popped up in his chat box.

[Ogden] whispers: Check out what I got: [Dagan's Amulet of Lightning]
[Ogden] whispers: [Dagan's Bangle of Freezing]

Alister clicked the two bracketed links and two little boxes popped up under his mouse pointer, showing the stats of the "epic" wrist and neck slot items, the highest tier of rarity. The "Dagan" set, Alister recognized, came from the Forest of Carmon, a zone catering to levels 15-25, but that the epic pieces only dropped from the cave boss Mammon, who had the ability to stun any warrior or knight (classes that both Ogden and Aldren fell into) for several seconds, making the battle to find the epic Dagan set, if not difficult, at least tedious and irritating. Many gamers had wasted entire hours of playing without a single epic to show. Ogden, apparently, had acquired two.

[Ogden] whispers: Both parts of the Dagan set. There's a bonus to intelligence when you wear two or more.
To [Ogden]: That's great Og but you're a troll. You don't need INT. They're better for magic users.
[Ogden] whispers: They aren't for me.
To [Ogden]: For selling, or to put in the guild storage for newbies?
[Ogden] whispers: I got them for Kat. She said she wanted them. So... newbie it is.

Alister sat back from his keyboard. Everyone Kat's level wanted them. Heck, a lot of players above Kat's level nineteen wanted the items. He took another swig of his drink and lit a cigarette. He saved his message to Kat as a draft and went on to his quest log instead.

Alister managed to take his knight through a side quest to retrieve stolen supplies from a troop of bandits and spent a little time in the marketplace trading for gear, but after some time the numbers and prices no longer held interest for him, and he left for the wilderness to kill off wild ogres. After slaying a few dozen, while wreaking havoc to a mutant insect nest, he received a notification that Kat had logged on. He immediately re-opened his draft, but instead of sending it, began to edit it.

Kat -

Thanks for the thought but you don't have to craft me anything. I really didn't need those boots, and they look great on your girl. I'll be online a few hours this evening. Hit me up and we can run some dungeons.

He clicked 'send', then sat back and stared at his screen a few minutes, idly flipping through menus and inventories, not really doing much of anything, until the guild chat started flooding his chat box.

[Kat]: Guildies! Guess who has two pieces of the epic Dagan set? <= This girl.
[Qidan]: Shiny. Gratz!
[Reaper]: Which pieces?
[Kat]: Amulet and bracelet
[Reaper]: Nice. You get the int bonus.
[Kat]: I do. :)
[Drit]: How many runs did it take?
[Kat]: *blush* I did not partake of the dungeon-running experience to attain the items in question.
[Drit]: Buy them off the auction house?
[Reaper]: Drit she's a 19. She wouldn't have enough gold for epics.
[Drit]: Duh. Then how?
[Kat]: *blushes more* Ogden got them and gave them to me.
[Drit]: D'aww. You two are such a cute couple.
[Qidan]: Couple? Who's a couple?
[Reaper]: You're slow, Qid.
[Reaper]: Kat and Ogden are a couple. Since, forever ago.
[Drit]: Since before little Kat joined the guild at least, probably.
[Kat]: ...Yeah :)
[Qidan]: Oh. Well, gratz! Again. :)

The guild's discussion continued, but Alister went back to slaying mutant bugs. He was close to leveling up but couldn't seem to concentrate on his quests, which would earn him experience points much faster. He hadn't known that Kat and Ogden were supposedly a couple. He supposed, looking back, it made sense. Ogden had introduced her to the guild when she was only level four. Had he, perhaps, introduced her to the game to begin with? Alister scowled at the thought that Kat knew any of the guild members in real life, but Ogden especially. The two of them had played together so long and, alongside Drit, the guild leader, they had founded the guild and located all the other players who had become friends. Alister's thoughts were interrupted whispered text appearing in his chat.

[Kat] whispers: Hey Al. Did you see my new accessories?
[Kat] whispers: Ogden had to have have spent hours farming for it.
To [Kat]: I saw it. Good for you.

He tried to sound encouraging, positive. Kat was too perceptive.

[Kat] whispers: You're quiet tonight.

She waited half a minute, but Alister had nothing to reply - nothing he wanted to say and still sound fair. Kat tried again.

[Kat] whispers: Wanna raid the Deathly Swamps with me?
[Kat] whispers: Ogden is busy tonight and Reaper is playing with a party outside the guild.
[Kat] whispers: Please? Drit and Migorn said they'll go too.

Alister couldn't help but allow his mood to brighten at the opportunity.

****************

The party of six consited of Alrdren the knight, Kat the elementalist, Drit the level sixty-two warlock, Migorn the level twenty-eight magician, Nalfar the level thirty-six archer, and Orin the level forty-four warrior. Although Drit held superior rank in the guild than Aldren, a veteran - second in command, Aldren had been selected for the role of party leader. Drit needed the availability to tend to his cat away from the game (which apparently had been ill since the afternoon) and the role of party leader came with the authority to distribute loot, a responsibility that required an active presence and attention.

The team was celebrating its victory against Drafar the Ungodly, the decaying beast of the swamps. A small, glowing box floated above the corpse of the fallen foe. Aldren moved to open it and reveal its contents to the group. Alister clicked the "share loot" button to display the chest's contents over party chat.

[x6 Healing Potions]
[x6 Exp Bonus Potions]
[Dagger of Cestia]
[Cap of the Four Winds]
[Malfar's Bludgeon]

Alister auto-distributed one each healing potion and experience bonus potion to every player, depositing the items directly into each character's inventory. The latter three items were soul-bound and non-tradeable, requiring a large number of "seals" from the in-game cash shop to "re-seal" the item for a single trade. As such, each item had to be doled out to the most worthy character.

Nalfar, being the only thief-type character, the only one capable of equipping the dagger, was given the item by default. The Cap of the Four Winds, a "unique" tier armor piece (a tier second only to "epic") was of interest to Kat, Migorn and Drit, as it gave a strong bonus to the intelligence stat, the focus of all magic-users. The cap had a minimum usage level of thirty-five making it so that only Drit would be able to use it immediately (although it would not do well to replace his higher-level gear), but Migorn and Kat still sought it out.

Aldren announced for everyone interested to "roll for it", referring to the button on the bottom of each player's screen that would activate a virtual twenty-sided die, and the highest number would be the winner of the roll and earn the item. Migorn came out with an eight, Kat an eleven, and Drit had failed to respond. Aldren gave the item to Kat, who filled the chat box with cheers and fixed her avatar to spin around in a little dance.

Lastly, Malfar's Bludgeon was a special item, not only highly useful for warrior and knight classes, but highly coveted in the auction houses by most players regardless of class, and worth raking in deal of gold to anyone who managed to sell one. Each party member was interested, including Aldren himself. Drit had come back to the screen (without remorse of having lost the roll for the cap). Aldren initiated another roll.

[Migorn]: 17
[Drit]: 12
[Nalfar]: 14
[Aldren]: 4
[Kat]: 7
[Orin]: 18

Most of the party members groaned (including Aldren, although he was silent about it as far as party-chat went), but Orin was beside himself. Not only was the item an extremely rare and hard-to-find drop, but he could actually make use of the weapon. Aldren opened the list of party members to distribute the hammer.

Anyone on the list could use the amount of gold the Bludgeon would get at the auction house, especially those still in the lower-levels. Players paid millions of in-game currency for an item of the Bludgeon's caliber. Those millions, in turn, would be plenty to buy a full and well-embellished set of mid-level gear of the highest tier of rarity. Alister smirked.

He moused over the list of names, appearing in the order in which the players had rolled, Kat's name just a few pixels above Orin's. He clicked on Kat, and the Bludgeon was placed into her inventory, automatically soul-bound.

[Kat] has received [Malfar's Bludgeon].
[Orin]: WTF
[Orin]: I won that roll!
[Kat]: Why did you give that to me Al?
[Aldren]: I am so sorry, my mouse slipped. Kat's name was right above yours.
[Orin}: wtf
[Aldren]: It was an accident.
[Orin]: bs!
[Drit]: Cool it, guys.
[Drit] whispers: Nice going, Aldren.
To [Drit]: Shut it.
[Drit] whispers: How are you going to fix this? I think you owe Orin some cash shop seals.
[Drit] whispers: I think the bludgeon requires thirty seals, and they're not cheap. Ready to shell out $30?
To [Drit]: I don't think so. It was an accident.
[Drit] whispers: Hey, man. Orin's seriously p'd off. He's whispering me like crazy, trying to get me to fix it. You gotta do something.
To [Drit]: Look, I don't have thirty bucks. Can't Kat just keep it? I'll take Orin on another run.
[Drit] whispers: Is that what this is about? Kat? I know you two are tight but this isn't cool, Al. Orin won that hammer.
[Drit] whispers: Hey, if you two can't resolve this peacefully, I'm gonna have to kick you from the guild.

Alister sat back. Shit. Was he being too transparent? This wasn't how he'd expected things to go.

[Drit] whispers: You're gonna have to make up your mind, buddy. Either shell out the cash, or I'll have to kick you.

Shit. Stupid, Alister thought. What was I expecting would happen? For Kat to jump into my arms, because she thinks I made a mistake and gave her a valuable item she can't even use? No. He knew what he had wanted. For Kat to notice him, for Kat to give him her attention.

[Kat] whispers: Aldren. How are we going to fix this?

Now he had her attention. Now, he just had to figure out what to do with it.

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