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[PP - F10] Valaina's Blessing

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She didn't even turn around. Realistically, Lilik was not at all used to being referred to as Miss, or Ma'am, or Lady, or much of anything positive. It wasn't until the hand landed on her shoulder that the woman understood she was the intended target. Of course, that realization came a couple seconds after survival instinct took hold. The woman swatted the man's hand away, spun, and found herself in a ready crouch even before his hands went up in defense. When he said nothing, just gazed owlishly at her, Lilik straightened. "You don't just grab a woman like that," she informed him, tone icier than Frostbite Lake.

The man's face reddened in frustration. "I only touched your shoulder," he retorted. "Like this."

When his hand moved to demonstrate, Lilik again swatted it out of the air with the back of her wrist. "Nuhuh," she snapped, "what did I just say?" Visibly flustered, the stranger was unable to formulate a response. So the lanky woman blew out a breath, planted her hands on her hips and asked, "Is there something I can help you with, buddy? Or do you just get your rocks off touching women in public?"

"Yes." Horror burst across his face, and he hastily added, "No. I don't get my- I mean, there is something you can help me with."

Her eyebrows, dyed the same rich plum as her mane of hair, winged up. "Oh? And what might that be?"

The man straightened his tie, a clear effort to regain some semblance of composure. The color - was it 'burnt sienna?' - clashed with the dark brown jacket, which hung, ill-fitting, over wrinkled khaki pants. This was a man making every effort to appear more capable, more important, than he actually was. She knew the type. "Yes, well, my employer has asked that I find a suitable candidate for an operation of sorts."

Lilik's head tilted. "So a quest? You an NPC or something?"

The man blustered. "Me? No. Clearly, I'm not an NPC." 

"Right, yeah, because what NPC would wear that?" She scoffed, rolling her eyes to hide the faint embarrassment. Still relatively new to the world outside of the Town of Beginnings, Lilik honestly didn't know how NPCs dressed. She didn't know if it was typical of one to follow a player into a shop, or grab her shoulder. But like hell if she would let this traveling salesman know that. "Anyway, what does this have to do with me?"

"Well, I believe you would be a good fit for the job."


The not-NPC gestured to her, waving up and down her body. He kept the motion close to his body, however, so not to give Lilik reason to smack his hand away. "It is easy to tell from your armor that you're a high-level player. A frontliner?"

"Oh, you betcha." Looks like I'm not the only dummy in the room, she mused. Her appearance, though flashy, was constructed almost entirely of vanity items. Only her chest plate was actually enhanced, and that was a single slot of mitigation. Even her spear, which rode strapped to her back, was a step above garbage quality. Again, one more thing he didn't need to know. But she couldn't spend her entire afternoon toying with the village idiot. "But I'm afraid I'm all booked up. Important frontliner business, you know." She winked conspiratorially, then turned away. "I'm afraid I've got to get moving if I don't want to miss the next boss fight."

Lilik had nearly turned her back entirely when the man blurted out, "B-but there's a spear involved, like the one you've got! And it's made of gold!"


Level: 2 | HP: 40 | Energy: 4
» 2H Assault Spear - Rank 1 [Novice]
» Uncommon 2HAS [Damage]
» Uncommon Leather Chestplate [Mitigation]
» [5] Starter Healing Potions (Heals 50HP)


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Level: 3
EN: 6
DMG: 4
ACC: 1
EVA: 1

- One-Handed Curved Sword (Rank 1)
>>> +1 DMG

- [E] Crescent Elegy (T1 Rare Curved Sword)
>>> +2 DMG

- [E] Red Coat of the Traveler (T1 Rare Light Armor)
>>> Savvy 1
>>> +1 EVA

- [E] Aeolus Wind Charm (T1 Rare Trinket)
>>> Keen 1
>>> +1 ACC

Battle-Ready Inventory

- (3) Starter Healing Potions
>>> Heals 50 HP


He'd only been half listening, polishing an ornament that had no real value so that it could be made to look like it had value. Though a polished turd was still a turd, people liked things that had a shine - and Jackpot was no exception.

That could catch a sum.

One might think that he'd be more concerned about a woman being accosted by a strange man in his shop, but he was actually content to simply eavesdrop and see where the conversation led. Between her, him, and the stealthy goon who'd filed in silently behind them, it had been a strange day to begin with. When the going gets weird, the weird turn professional.

But why her? And why here?

He shifted to lean against a desk behind his counter, diligently rubbing the paint thinner-soaked cloth against a particularly stubborn smudge. He was aware enough not to let his amber eyes wander their direction, keeping the unfolding fiasco keenly in his peripherals. The concentrated, furrowed expression he wore must have certainly dissuaded the notion that he could possible be paying attention to them. Definitely.

It doesn't matter. Col is col.

Why did they not refer to 'gold' by the term 'col' in this world, anyways? Surely they were interchangeable. It certainly appeared so, on the surface. Though, he had to admit that saying, "There's a spear made of col!" didn't have the same ring to it. 

What the hell is this guy wearing?

A suit. In Aincrad. Who'd crafted such a gaudy outfit for the man? Surely it couldn't be a mob drop. The craftsmanship was fine, but the color scheme was all off, and it didn't fit properly. Must have been a hand-me-down.

Amateur, he concluded as he inspected the globe, issued an idle nod, then tenderly placed it on the shelf behind him. His work complete, he opened a drawer in the desk he'd been leaning against, deposited the rag, and closed it. His arms folded against his chest as he pitched his eyes toward the quarreling duo, casting aside his hesitation. If they were going to have a spat in a shop, they shouldn't be surprised to find the shop owner's eyes glued to them. 

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After a moment's pause, Lilik gave a brief nod of her head. It was the smallest of gestures, and could be mistaken for a twitch by someone not paying attention. It was the most energy she would waste on the man. Of course, he didn't seem to mind; relief washed over his face, confirming the shift in power. The tables had turned in the tall woman's favor. She was the Queen, granting the peasant permission to continue speaking to her. 

"Valaina Verutum," came his hurried explanation. "It belonged to the famous demigod, Valaina." His wide eyes searched her face for sign of recognition, but he found none. So the frazzled man continued, rushing to fill the uncomfortable silence that yawned like a gaping cavern between them. "After Valaina died, my employer acquired it for his collection. But it was stolen, and he needs to get it back."

A single plum brow creeped up, the only indicator of Lilik's interest. "And if I go get the spear, I get to keep it?"

The man in the ugly, ill-fitting suit blustered. "What? No, of course not."

Wrong answer. "Okay, bye then."


Lilik's ruby eyes flashed, as hard and brilliant as the gems themselves. "Why not? Why the hell would I get a spear if I can't keep it? That's a sh*t quest."

The stranger's gaze narrowed, his expression shifting to mirror Lilik's. Interesting. He wasn't entirely spineless. "This isn't a quest, this is a job. And you will be paid really well, in col."

Dismissal came quick to the tip of her tongue, but she stopped herself at the last second. She was dirt poor, and filling her pockets meant she could buy some really nice things for herself. A custom spear. Better armor. A house. Her stomach leaped to her throat at the thought, but her face betrayed nothing. "Fine. Message me the details, then you can go. I'll make sure it's taken care of."

He looked like he might argue, and even opened his mouth. But it was a resigned sigh that came out, and with a twinkle of bells, he summoned his HUD to do so. With a hurried nod of his own, the burnt sienna-clad player evacuated the shop. Lilik remained where she was, reading over the message he'd quickly composed and sent.

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As Doctor Doofus took his leave, Jackpot's eyes remained steadfast on the woman that remained. She seemed to pay him no mind, her eyes illuminated by the dull glow of the message they traced. He tapped his finger against his folded arm, eyebrows furrowing in frustration from being so thoroughly ignored. He conspicuously cleared his throat, and when that garnered no attention he decided to speak.

"Legendary weapon, huh? Sooouuuunds coooool."

But no words came as a response. Not like that would dissuade him.

"Might need help for something like that. Help from someone with, say, resources. Probably." His eyes began to wander around the shop, stopping briefly at each of the various artifacts, buffs and equipment that lined the shelves and walls. This was by design, of course. If she didn't catch on on her own, perhaps he could guide her to the conclusion he'd hoped she'd come to.

"Someone who has experience with weapons," he prodded, continuing to build his case. "Probably someone who's identified a ton of them. You never know what a weapon you stumble upon might have - that's why nobody uses one before getting a Merchant to check it out, right?"

If she wasn't getting it by now, he'd probably have to be a bit more blunt.

"Saaayyy," he began once more. "I happen to have that exact skillset. How about I do you a favor and help you out on this one?" He had selfish machinations woven in, of course. He'd need compensation for graciously offering his services. "We could split the col, fifty-fifty. What do you say?"

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Her ruby gaze had just reached the message's half-way point when the shopkeep started blabbering. 

Once you've reached the city limits, you'll need to-

And that's as far as she got. Every time she inched closer to learning what she needed to do, the man's voice broke her concentration. Lilik's jaw clenched, eyes narrowing, as she attempted to block him out. She could practically visualize the walls she constructed in her mind, sound-proofed and all, meant to shut him up until she was done reading. 

Once you've reached the city-

"Someone who has experience with weapons." 

Maybe what she needed to do was envision him with a muzzle.

Once you've reached the city limits, you'll need to locate the-


The plum-haired player actually snarled. He might have heard it, and hey, all the better if he did. She certainly had no reason to hide her frustration. She was clearly attempting to read something, and he was being exceptionally rude trying to butt in. Besides, reading was difficult enough for her. Being reminded of her inability to listen to him and read along only infuriated her further. So she gave up, just in time to hear the guy pitch his proposal. I hope whatever else he said wasn't important.

"Look, asshole," she shot back, finally looking up from her HUD. "First, don't interrupt me when I'm reading. That's just rude. Second, no, you wouldn't be doing me favor, so cut the gallant knight bullshit. It's pretty evident that you just want some fast money, so don't sugarcoat it. Which leads me to three." The long, lean woman leaned forward a bit, and plucked a teleportation crystal off a nearby shelf. "Seventy-thirty. And you give me one of these."

Edited by Lilik

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Jackpot grimaced at her vulgar display, doubling back a bit and raising his hands instinctively. But why? It was his shop, after all, and she was wasting his time by loitering in it without so much as acknowledging the owner. Still, her demeanor was frightening enough to make Jackpot think twice about pushing the subject. That is, until he heard-

"Seventy-thirty. And you give me one of these."

"Hah!" he scoffed, allowing his upper body to tip backward in dramatic lackadaisical fashion. He may have been a timid fellow, but he wasn't a fool. Nor was he a bad salesman. "You wound me. Though, it's doubtful you could, with a spear like that." He pointed first to her weapon, then gestured toward the rest of her equipment. "You might have goons like that guy fooled with your getup, but you're talking to a Merchant. You might as well be walking around in a wet paper bag with a toothpick as your weapon."

Not that his own gear was much better, of course.

"Though, I'll admit that it fits nicely. Show off what you've got, girl."

He'd adequately fired back. It was time to talk business.

"Fifty-five, forty-five. I find the thing, you kill the monsters. And I was planning on bringing along some gear, anyway."

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