5 Fire Strands
Nix walked back toward town. Apparently, the Salamander hunters were completely clueless about their prey escaping. He walked into the same general store he had visited earlier. The shopkeeper was a pale, skinny man with thinning hair. He had told Nix to bring back any pelts or meats, and he'd give him a good price.
"Venison cans? I'll take everything you have, 150 credits each." The man's name was Brison, he also bought the fine deer pelts for 150 credits each. Nix pocketed the money and left with the promise that they'd do business again.
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Three blocks down from the general store, Nix found the armor and weapon shop that Hyai had recommended. As someone unfamiliar with virtual games or even gaming in general, he had borrowed one of the assistants to answer all his questions.
"So I can equip myself with heavy, medium or light armor? Why doesn't every go with heavy then?"
"You can't use magic while using heavy armor, also if you aren't strong enough you won't be able to move."
The assistant helping him was a petite younger woman with short brown hair and an easy smile. She patiently answered his questions, even though he had to repeat a few of them.
"I'll take this set of medium leather armor, I'll also take the Finisher Rifle."
"The Finisher Rifle is a very good choice, it's made right here in town by our own gunsmith."
Finisher Rifle: Fine Quality
Description: The Finisher is perfect
for the hunter on a budget. It features
good power at low cost.
"What's the gunsmith's name? Perhaps I'll visit her if I get the chance."
The assistant smiled pleasantly, "her name is Kyla, tell her Jonie sent you."
"Right, thanks Jonie" He paid 9 hundred credits for the armor and rifle and left the shop. There was still a few hours of daylight, so he decided to take advantage of it.
Keeping as far away from the hunter's as possible, Nix headed east, an area that his hud map had categorized as swampy. The trail he was on converged with another, three players were standing at the fork.
The group watched him approach, they consisted of two women and a man. One of the women stepped in front of him when he neared them, a friendly smile on her face.
"Hey there, want to group up with us?"
Nix shook his head, "pass."
"I'm a healer! You won't be able to find a group with solid heals." The woman persisted, her smile not slipping at all. She was obviously confident in her looks, braided black hair and blue eyes topped off a face that was made for modeling. It was hard for Nix to take her seriously.
"A healer?" Nix stopped and faced them.
"I'm Nezbit, this is Donri our tank and Sila is dps."
"Hmm..." Nix studied the group. Donri was wearing heavy armor, so being a tank must mean he protected the others. "What is dps?"
"Oh shit..." The woman called Sila spoke, "he's a noob Nez. Let's get going."
Sila wore her brown hair cut short like a man. This didn't match at all with her voluptuous figure.
Nez held up a hand, "just wait a bit. DPS means that their primary responsibility in group play is doing damage. With that rifle and medium armor, I assume you are dps also."
Nix nodded, "I suppose so."
"We need help bringing down one mob for a quest. The XP should be really good, and you can roll for loot."
"No thanks." Nix stepped around her and started walking again.
"One thousand credits." The man they referred to as the tank finally spoke. "I'm Don, we don't have enough dps to kill the mob before our healer runs out of mana."
Nix smiled at Don. "Two thousand."
"You cheap bastard!" Sila's face grew red as she shook her fist at him.
"Done." Nez made the final decision. "Follow us please."
Nix fell in behind Don, who was leading them off-trail. "What is mana?"
Sila frowned at him, "we are so boned."
"When I cast heals, it draws from my mana pool." Nez smiled patiently, "the creature we are trying to kill comes with three adds. Don can tank them all, but I basically have to spam heal to keep him alive."
Nix nodded like he understood. "I see. So, what's an add?"
"F*ck me." Sila, who was walking behind them, couldn't contain herself any longer. She stomped passed them to walk next to Don.
Nez sighed, "don't worry about her. We are getting frustrated. This is our fourth attempt."
"That's a big bear." Nix had followed them to a cave a few miles from the trail. A huge black bear was napping peacefully at the cave entrance. The name in red over his head said Bulo, the Tyrant King.
Nez smiled sweetly, "Nix meet Bulo."
"Let's move this along, I want to get back to the Inn in time for dinner." Nix pulled his rifle and moved a bit further away.
Don walked to the front of the group. "Fine, let's get going." He pulled a heavy-looking ax and charged in Bulo. The animal roared and swiped a huge paw at him.
Nix started shooting, pumping round after round into the bear. He could hear Sila doing the same. The life bar on the bear was steadily dropping. In the background, he could hear the healing chants of Nez.
Three smaller bears spawned in the cave entrance and started toward the group.
"Damn, the adds are early." Sila gritted her teeth in frustration, Nix didn't have great dps.
Nix caught the movement of the smaller bears. A small orange flame popped into his view, with an image of a hand. He imitated the movement, a moment later his hand erupted in flames sending a small strand of fire at the smaller bear. It wrapped around its feet, rooted him in place. Nix held on to his end, the strength of the bear nearly knocking him down.
"The hell is that?" Sila paused in her shooting, her eyes wide with surprise.
The rifle Nix had been firing was automatically sent to his inventory, another flaming image hovered in front of one of the other small bears. He sent a strand of fire toward it, effectively stopping it. "Not my best idea." The two bears tugged in opposite directions, the smell of burning fur reaching the group as the bears roared in anger.
Don had his back to the group but was easily tanking Bulo and one of the smaller bears. Sila had resumed her shooting while Nix struggled to keep his arms from being pulled off. Bulo fell after a few minutes, then Don and Sila killed the closest bear.
Don spun for the other two bears, freezing in place. "You're CC? Hell yeah!"
The fire strand held when someone else damaged the bear, however, it was already down to half its hit points. Two minutes later the group was high-fiving each other, all the bears were down and their quest was completed.
Sila approached him and handed him 2 thousand credits. "You should have mentioned that you're CC, I'm sorry for speaking as I did."
Nix waved it off, "mind if I skin these bears?"
Nez had walked up while he was being paid. "You're a hunter?"
Nix nodded. "Actually a tailor."
All three of his groupmates stopped and stared as he canned the bear meat and took all three pelts. The Bulo pelt had been given an epic rating.
He noticed their stares. "Problem?"
Nez shook her head, "did you say you are a tailor?"
Nez gave him a doubtful look. "To be a Tailor, you have to max out hunting and leather making."
"Yep. I should be going. Want to raise my Tailor skill so I can make something with that pelt."
"Right, we'll walk with you." Nez motioned for the other two to follow and fell in beside Nix. "If you have any questions, please feel free to ask."
"Oh ok. What is CC?"
Nez didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Her lovely face gave nothing away. "It's the ability to slow or hold people and mobs at bay. Those flame ropes of yours were CC."
"Right, okay. They are called Flame Strands."
"Damn Nix, what's the rating on that? Seven or Eight?" Sila spoke from behind them, CC support skills were always rated high.
Nix kept his face expressionless. "You're a really good guesser."
"I'm sorry for being such a bitch earlier." Sila's voice was smooth like honey while she tried to make nice.
"It's not a problem, you can always make it up to me."
Don chose this time to have a coughing fit, while Nez stared at the ground, her face turning red.
Sila laughed and slammed a hand on his back. "You just say whatever pops in your head."
Nix nodded, "less confusion that way."
An hour later they entered town. Nix left the group, intent on heading back to the inn to eat dinner and do some crafting. A hand grabbed him causing him to stop.
Sila leaned close and lowered her voice. "I'm at the Burly Bear, room 223. I usually stay up pretty late."
Nix smiled at her, "see ya later then Sila." He waved to the other two who were pretending they weren't aware of what was going on.