71 Arachne“s Panty Party
As we head over to Arachne's shop, Little Dude and I go over our plan to steal the Four Horsemen's thunder by racking up some Nightmare Mode First Clears.
To be honest, "plan" might be an overstatement.
It's pretty much just:
1) Collect Gear, Weapons, and Supplies
2) Use Taliesin's fae teleportation abilities to move our mixed Party to Dungeons where Polemos and his crew scored Hard Mode First Clears
3) Do the same Dungeons, but better
Everyone on board for this 'Plan' was a high-ranking beta tester, so we should be able to clear at least one or two of them before we meet up with Lialas for the next leg of our Main Storyline Quest.
Taliesin takes us on a slight detour to find Brodie his little Brownie buddy. I pop into a shop to buy supplies and potions, and by the time I'm done, Taliesin's waiting for me in his cat shift with a faery in a bright red vest sitting astride his back.
"Brodie, I presume?"
The little fae jumps to his feet, clambers onto Taliesin's head and bows so low his thimble hat wobbles precariously. "Greetings, D'Raven."
"Back atcha little buddy." I bow back, mostly because I like the cool "swoosh" noise my wings make when I sweep them back.
And also, like, manners and shit.
The Brownie gasps. "Erebus, Hero of Ages, bows to Brodie?!"
His yellow eyes widen in shock, his long, spindly fingers clasp his chest, then he falls off the shadow cat's head in a dead faint.
Oops. Forgot my Charisma increased again.
A bow from the NPC Whisperer is a potent blow.
Luckily, my Agility is also high, so I catch him before my brain even processes he's falling. He comes to as I place him back on Taliesin's back.
"You saved Brodie!" he gushes.
'No,' I think, 'I saved my own ass. Arachne would have killed me if I injured her future Shop Guardian.'
"Of course," I say. "It's what we heroes do best."
I'm laying it on thick, but the Brownie eats it up. An interesting bit of code has created literal stars in his eyes, and he asks if there's anything he could ever do to repay me.
Charisma build is best build.
I kneel down so we're eye level and bat my long eyelashes. "Heroes don't need rewards," I reply gallantly. "Simply pay this kindness forward to my dear friend Arachne. Serve her well, and that would be the greatest gift of all."
Literally. If he helps with her tailoring and increases her efficiency and output, her business will soar, and I'll get rich right along with her.
"So noble," Brodie gasps. Then I see the telltale glisten of fresh tears, and that's a whole lotta NOPE.
First, it was burly musclehead NPCs who couldn't hold back tears. I do not have time for the scrawny sidenote NPCs to start crying willy-nilly as well.
I about-face and hustle off, leaving Taliesin to find his own way.
At Silken Strands, I slow down to take in the changes wrought by the 1-Star upgrade. The building is now two stories, exotic flowers spill out of planters along the second-floor windows, and the huge ground floor windows have space for displays. Inside, the showroom has expanded, plus there are dressing rooms and a back room for storage.
I'm pleased to see that even with all the new display counters and clothing racks, it doesn't look empty. My business partner has been keeping busy, acquiring products to sell and making her own.
NPCs are browsing her wares, which is one of the best perks of the 1-Star upgrade. As soon as a store is visible on a city's map, it can attract NPC customers. This is especially important for Arachne, since she opened shop in a city that is currently devoid of players.
That's the other reason I'm so eager to beat Nightmare Mode dungeons. Once three Nightmare Mode dungeons have been cleared, inter-city teleportation opens up.
"If it isn't my favorite reprobate." Arachne's heels click as she saunters over.
"You wound me," I reply.
She arches her brow. "Oh? You've given up being a shameless scoundrel?"
I puff up my chest and rustle my wings. "Haven't you heard? I'm a hero."
A tinkle of bells signals the front door opening, and Arachne's black cat ears twitch. "So what have you accomplished since I last saw you?"
"Scammed a leprechaun and stole his life savings," a flat voice answers.
"That's more like it," Arachne grins, turning to the newcomer.
"Taliesin, gods damnit," I grumble.
"I would never lie to my favorite Pu`ca tailor," he replies, beaming at Arachne.
"I thought you were scared of her."
"Yep, totally, 100% terrified. That's what makes her so cool."
I get that.
Before the conversation can take any more turns, Arachne lays eyes on Brodie, and it's all over. She swoops down on the faery, and I almost feel sorry for the little guy. His eyes widen in fear as he takes in her predatory gleam, and he looks at me as if I might save him.
Barely sparing us another glance, Arachne waves us to the dressing rooms where our new outfits are hanging.
Taliesin's is a slim-fit sleeveless white tunic with gold trim designs and a single yellow detached sleeve, and dark gold trousers. With his long blonde hair, he looks like an alternate universe Cheerful Link.
It could not be more different from my new clothes:
|| Ninja-Soul Collector Hybrid Tunic, perfect for an inspiring emo or mall goth. Best when paired with a studded bracelet and a shinobi headband.
Increased Stealth, +15% Defense against attacks from Living Enemies, +20% Defense against attacks from Undead Enemies, +6 Strength, +4 Intelligence, +2 Perception||
The Brownie thread must have been a success; the tunic's even better than the sum of its parts!
The section that hangs lower is artfully tattered and really works that assassin aesthetic. She's also included a deep purple sash that goes around my waist underneath my belt and makes the sapphires on my Orion's Belt (Replica) pop.
The woman's a genius.
Unfortunately, she's also a devious minx who lives to torment me.
I stomp out of the dressing room holding the final clothing item I'd found hanging.
"Arachne. Really. This was the only pattern you could do for me?"
"I didn't want to ruin your aesthetic," she winks, "Boxers Bro."
"Noooo. You've seen the video, too?"
Despairing, I glare at Taliesin.
"Eep." Taliesin dives back into his dressing room. I throw a shoe from the nearest display at him through the curtain.
"The boxers look nice!" he calls out.
Sure they do.
They're white, and covered in dark pink and red roses, with stems covered in thorns.
"Try them on and check out the stats. At least nothing's written on the ass," Arachne says cheerfully.
Grumbling, I do what she says. Clothing can be handled manually like in the real world, or you can input from your Gear Window. This time, I just open that and unequip my pants. I manually take off the hot pink boxers so I can fling them over the dressing room curtain.
Then I equip my new boxers and check out the stats. I'm so impressed by what I see, I walk out of the dressing room still pantsless.
"Okay, these are pretty great," I admit to Arachne. She's imbued them with a spell in the thorns that reminds me of Sleeping Beauty and the spindle: anyone who touches the boxers without permission falls unconscious for 3 seconds and takes damage. More useful to me, the +1 VIT boxers give me a 3% Chance of Stun Counterattack from physical attacks.
I recognize these effects from a bra I'd tried on in the beta. "I know the original set were rose-patterned, but couldn't you deviate for the guy version?"
"Sorry," she says, not looking sorry at all, "but the Beast Rose dye is one of the key materials for the buffs, and they create that pattern. No can do."
My murderous aura dissipates in resignation, and Taliesin pops out of his dressing room.
"Besides, they look like your Emblem," Arachne points to the ink-black Windflower that magically appeared on my new tunic.
"Yeah, flowers are legit a part of your aesthetic," Taliesin agrees.
"The ones she made me have plants on them, too," he says and then pulls down his pants a bit to show me his new green shamrock-printed boxers. "+1 Luck stat, can you believe it?"
Arachne shrugs. "It was the special enhancement from the Brownie thread. I only added the shamrocks to the design to create a +10% Defense against Curses; the Luck was a bonus."
Of course it was.
Sighing, I just re-equip my pants and accept my fate.
I pay for my new gear with 15 gold coins. "Includes your 5% fee from the leprechaun gold," I tell Arachne, thoroughly enjoying her sapphire eyes widening in shock.
I also explain we're planning some raids today, and the dungeons should drop recipes and crafting designs. That snaps her back to attention, and she opens her status window to a blank Notes page and opens her in-game keyboard. She grills me on the dungeons I'm planning to hit, and makes materials lists for the designs available in each one.
Slack-jawed in shock, I hesitantly ask, "Um, Arachne?"
"What?" she mumbles, distracted.
"Did you memorize which recipes and designs were available in which dungeons, and which materials and ingredients were needed for each?"
"Of course," she snaps, brow furrowed in concentration as she furiously types. "Why?"
Freakin' geniuses, I tell you. "No reason," I reply weakly.
"Then scram. You're distracting me."
I chuckle. "Yes, ma'am."
My fake-salute freezes when a glinting golden knife appears at throat.
"Call me ma'am again, and I swear to Danu I will end you, Erebus."
Logically, I know there's no way she can stab me in a Safe Haven.
Further, I know that even if she could kill me on the spot, I wouldn't *really* die. This is just a game.
"Yes, Arachne the Young and Divine and Brilliant," I say quickly.
"Much better. Now scoot."
The second the knife disappears, I hightail it out of there with Taliesin.
Her angry mutter follows me out the door: "Ma'am? Really? I'm only twenty-six for gods' sakes! Dumbass boys being all dumb."