36 Inconvenient Truths
WHY DID I RUN?
AM I A FUCKING IDIOT?!
WHO THE FUCK DOES THAT?!
There are two types of Dumbass with Crush in this world: the Stalker and the Runner.
I am firmly in the latter camp.
(Granted, both types tend to outgrow these tendencies by middle school, but hey! Guess I'm a late bloomer.)
(I'll just feck off an die now. . .)
How I imagine the conversation would have gone, had I not been a total fucking idiot—
—or feckin' eejit, if Logane weren't agoraphobic and had been around to see that epic disaster:
Me as a Normal Person: "Why thank you, Kara Geir, for your thoughtful invite, I would love to join your party. Unfortunately, I'm on a hunt for some particular materials to upgrade an item I was bold and lucky enough to receive, so I will have to pass this time."
Goddess Her: "Wow, you're so cool and collected, and you already have an upgradeable item? Marry me, Erebus!"
Suave Me: "Sorry, but I cannot. Though the heart is willing, the mind knows it is yet too soon. Once I rule the Nine Realms, we shall speak of such things again."
Or, you know, something like that.
Determined to find an outlet to vent my frustration with my own shortcomings, I run to the far side of the Dolmen and search for someone more pathetic than me.
And then I see him.
(Author Reminder: Nightfury made his inglorious debut in Chapter 2, in the section of Trash Talk.)
(Blazing Fists: *waves at the lovely readers who have stayed with the story*)
He's playing a Draegkyn.
Nightfury is playing a dragonkin.
I'm so happy right now.
I feel like this man was put on this earth to make me feel better about myself.
"4-Man Party, searching for 1! DPS or Tank!"
"Must have solid armor! Running Nightmare Mode!"
Waving, I walk up to Nightfury and a Camazotz named Kane. He's the highest level among the party, at 6, and the insignia next to his name denotes him as Party Leader.
"DPS here!" I announce.
The Party Leader nods at me. "I'm Kane, and this is Nightfury." Then he gestures to a dryad and a D'Raven, the first one I've seen so far. This guy's only Level 4, though, so I'm not sure what the heck he did back at the tengu village. "These two are Lialas and Shadeslayer."
"'Sup, I'm Erebus."
"Your gear looks good," Kane says. "You want to join our party?"
"I do. I love a man who commits to his character."
"Kane, as in Bob Kane, right? The creator of Batman?"
Kane grins. "Yeah, actually."
"Great name for a Camazotz. Too bad your friend doesn't have your commitment to geekdom," I say, shaking my head at Nightfury.
"What the hell are you talking about?" Nightfury growls.
"Red scales? I mean, seriously. Clearly you should have gone with black to stay true to character."
Lialas laughs. "He has a point, dude."
"How many times do I have to say my name has nothing to do with a cartoon dragon!? I've never even seen that movie!"
"Too bad. It's a classic," Lialas says.
"What kind of pathetic childhood did you have?" I ask, aghast.
"It was perfectly normal, thank you very much!" Nightfury huffs.
"Not if you never saw HTTYD," Lialas says.
"For fuck's sake! This game's dragons are Chinese, anyway!"
I suck in air through my teeth. "Ooh, then that's even more embarrassing. You know Chinese dragons are diurnal, right? Maybe you should change your name to NightcalmZzz."
Lialas busts out laughing, and even Kane laughs before quickly covering with a cough. Shadeslayer the D'Raven looks bored, and Nightfury looks like he's about to explode.
This is my happy place.
"Forget this ass, Kane! Let's find someone else to join our party."
I cross my arms. "Not a good idea, NightcalmZzz. If you want to run Nightmare, you need me."
That gets Shadeslayer's attention. He sneers. "Really? And how many times have you run this dungeon today? We've already used up all three of our Normal and Hard Mode runs."
Oozing self-confidence, I answer, "Zero!"
The other four stare at me blankly.
Kane frowns. "And yet you think you can keep up with us on Nightmare?"
I tilt my head in confusion. "Of course?"
Nightfury grinds his teeth. "Just how good do you think you are?"
"Mmm, better than everyone here."
"Huuuuh?" Nightfury yells. "Who do you think you are?"
Shadeslayer glares at me. "Think you can just look at us and know our levels?"
"Literally yes," I say.
"Chill out, everyone," Kane says, grabbing Nightfury before he can try to deck me.
"Wait! I know this asshole!" Shadeslayer says, triumphant. "It's Boxers Bro!"
My smirk freezes on my face.
"What?" Lialas asks.
"I've been checking forums for D'Raven info. I knew I recognized this idiot. It's Boxers Bro!"
Shadeslayer pulls up a video posted by someone named Taliesin. It starts off with a close-up of my face as I exit the Teleportation Portal, but then the video slowly zooms out and pans down...to the godsforsaken pink boxers.
Gods fucking damnit.
Lialas and Shadeslayer laugh their asses off, and I can't even blame them.
They turn off the video before Video Me disarms those two morons or tricks the thief into committing suicide by spontaneous combustion.
I re-cement my commitment to strangling the boxers designer at some point.
"So, are we running this dungeon, or not?" I ask. "Most of the other parties have already entered."
It's true. The side of the hill we're on is almost empty.
"You're still gonna stand there and pretend you're a hotshot?" Shadeslayer jeers.
I ignore him. "If you want me to carry you all, the Party Leader should set the dungeon to Equal Distribution for EXP and loot."
Nightfury is so red by now, I can't tell the difference between his skin and his scales anymore. "Fuck that! You wanna leech, go find some other suckers."
Shadeslayer nods firmly.
Lialas rolls his eyes. "Whatever, I just wanna run this dungeon and move on. Not like we're going to clear it anyway. We didn't even clear Hard Mode."
"Shut up!" Nightfury snaps.
"See, you need me." I smile.
"We need you to fill our party," Kane interjects before Nightfury can yell again, "but I'm setting the dungeon to Contribution. We find this way more fair, don't you think?"
I shrug. "Sure, if you don't want any EXP..."
I accept the official Party Invite and head toward the entrance. Lialas walks with me, smiling and unconcerned, and strikes up a convo about how awesome VR is.
I decide to share any sweet loot for healers with him.
"I'm going to kill him," Nightfury growls under this breath behind me. I can practically feel his eyes burning into the back of my skull.
Kane whispers back, "There's no PvP in the realm yet, you know that."
"Fuck it, I hate him. We're doing Nightmare Mode. We can probably MPK him."
"Shouldn't be too hard. He can't have many skills. D'Raven's too damn hard, with the skill proficiency requirements," Shadeslayer grumbles.
Kane sighs. "I won't stop you. But don't ruin our whole run just because you're feeling petty."
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I chuckle to myself. Obviously, my Perception stat is high enough for me to hear the entire whispered conversation. So, they want to MPK me, huh? (Monster Player Kill: basically, it's when you lure a monster to attack and kill another player.)
This should be fun.
| Inside the Dolmen Dungeon |
A beautiful Valkyrie stabs a zombie in the eye and explodes his head.
"But why did he run?" she asks, brow wrinkled in confusion.
A petite Draegkyn named Jade Thorn leaps into the air to behead two undead monsters. "Maybe he was late for an appointment."
"Maybe he really had to pee," a young Pu`ca offers, as he shapeshifts into a horned cat.
"That's not a feature of the game," Nanuk, a stern Angakoq Shaman, says. "And we wouldn't even be having this conversation if you'd arrived on time or kept your party chat open."
"My bad, big bro!" the Pu`ca apologizes. "But I was trying to track this super cool player! He was just too fast."
"So you've said," Nanuk replies flatly. He freezes two zombies so his little brother can slice them up easier.
"Why do you even care about that moron, Kara?" an Anubis Warrior named Rahotep asks in a voice he would assure you is not whining.
The Valkyrie, Kara, bites her lip and frowns. "I'm not sure."
Jade grins. "Maybe you're in luuurve."
Kara thrusts her spear through three zombies at once. "Maybe I'll impale you."
"Just kidding!" Jade assures her before sliding into the middle of three monsters.
"There's just something about him. He seemed so familiar, somehow..."
"You probably knew him in a past life," Jade says.
As a shiver travels down Kara's spine, she wonders why that insane idea seems so right.