• Published 24th Nov 2020
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Level Up! - RisuUmbra



A new MLP MMO turns death game as the players are sucked into what they assume is the game... not as fun as you'd think

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Chapter 17: Second Contact

Chapter 17 Second Contact:

My internal clock is still heavily thrown off by the sun here, at some points it's like the day won’t end and others it's like the sun is fast forwarding. It may be only a few hours past noon from what I can see when I could swear we were in that house for much longer, or maybe this is because time rewound for me so everything feels off for a bit. Village looked about the same as we left it, everyone was pitching in the clean up, guard and player alike were dragging supplies or rubble to and fro trying to clean up in a timely manner. The bandits were nowhere to be seen so they might have been sent away to prison or something already. I trotted up to a nearby player, he was a familiar face especially with his shredded mane… I still don’t know his name.

“Hey, do you know where Sarah and everyone is meeting?” Lowering the burned wooden fence post he turned to look at me and when he realized who I was put a smile on his face.

“Oh Mr. Marcus! U-uh yeah they’re meeting over by the entrance to the square, you can’t miss em they’re set up outside on a table” The Mr. caught me off guard but I pushed passed it and thanked him, I guess I should expect some of the players to treat me a bit differently after seeing me basically dismantle that boss. They weren’t kidding about not missing it, I was expecting just a table set off to the side where the three would be sitting, but apparently not. Taking up a bulk of the road was a few tables and a mass amount of chairs like a makeshift forum area and there sitting in front of the crowd of what I assume is mostly players was Aaron, Sarah, and Eric talking animatedly with a few other players… this is going to be rough.

“Excuse me… pardon me, thank you… “ Sliding and nudging my way though wasn’t as difficult as I envisioned, the moment someone saw me they either quickly stepped aside (sometimes bumping into other players, annoying them) or just simply weren’t in the way. It wasn’t long before Eric spotted me first due to his height, a smile grew on his face when he locked eyes with me (he’s lucky I’m not an actual Pokémon trainer or else there would be a battle). Quickly turning and nudging Aaron next to him to get his attention, He along with Sarah who was probably confused by the sudden deviation in the conversation and turned to look at what caught both their attention.

“ Well, look who’s come back from the dead! Arcane Hope, right on time!” The moment Aaron used my pony name made me glance around and there sitting at the end of the table slightly obscured by the chairs and their occupants was an armored red unicorn, I assume he’s the captain of the guard that brought reinforcements. The captain had set his oddly roman-esque helmet onto the table and was now giving me a wide eyed look, I’m kind of at a loss of what to do now.

“Ah, so you’re the one who handled that mountain of a foe… impressive” He started giving me an almost appraising look while I approached the table, there was only one more open seat and of course it was next to Aaron. I didn’t let my emotion show on my face and went to sit, now isn’t the time to confront Aaron. The moment I was situated I felt and saw Aaron raise a hoof and slap it onto my back… which hurt a bit but I tried to not let that show.

“It was his idea to go ahead with his team while we ran for the guard and his plan that routed those bandits with minimal casualties, he is invaluable to our tribe” Oh Buck! They have a cover story and no one told me about it, I smiled gratefully for his words while internally I panicked and tried to piece together the cover story. He said something about a tribe so we’re all supposed to know each other, does he mean a nomadic tribe?

“Nice to finally put a face to the name Arcane Hope, my name is Worn Barding and I’m the militia captain over in South Town. I’m glad to have someone of your caliber on our side.” My caliber? What have they been saying about me? I was right about him being the captain but apparently the local government doesn’t fund them.

“I’m not as impressive as everyone makes me look. I assure you, I just work with everyone’s strengths. Now, we need to discuss what comes next correct?” Sarah and Eric seemed more than happy to get the useless platitudes out of the way and nodded in agreement.

“Quite right, the first order of business would be to make a decisive plan for our people. As you know Captain we have only recently decided to settle down and make a name for ourselves and our tribe, does anyone have any suggestions for us to pursue after this?” Okay so we are playing the nomadic tribe card here, Aaron probably phrased it like that for both my benefit and the other players listening in. Hmm, well I did promise Morgana I would bring it up.

“I think I have a pretty lucrative idea…” My words seemed to grab everyone's attention, I stood up slightly and started to project my voice to make sure everyone could hear me.

“What if we create a guild of sorts, a guild where all kinds of creatures can post requests for both job and aid. If they can pay the corresponding fee then we’ll send a member of the guild who has the needed skills” So far many eyes were lighting up at the prospect of being a part of a guild, but more importantly both Aaron and Worn Barding looked extremely interested in the idea. “This Adventurer's Guild would both teach any apprentice that join and employ them in low level requests and the higher they ranked the tougher and much more lucrative requests they could take'' Most of the players at this point had realized what I was describing and seemed to be completely on board, though it seemed the militia captain had a few questions.

“This seems like a fantastic idea, but what would this mean for the town’s safety and economy?” It was almost like a tennis game, at one moment the ball was in his court and the moment it bounced to my side everyone’s eyes swiveled to me for my return.

“Excellent question, of course we will be evaluating every members’ skills and abilities and pitting them against the standards of the local militia. The bar standard would be the minimum rank needed to take on requests that have any kind of mortal peril in it, further ranks would include just as many test and skill checks. When it comes to the economy there is nothing to worry about, there will be a fee required if someone wishes to post a request and a reward posted along with it, the reward itself with have a slight fee attached to it which will be given back to the guild itself that will be used to pay guild expenses like tax, equipment, salary, and training. Do you have any other questions?” My speech seemed to render everyone silent, don’t underestimate my trope knowledge.

“Well it seems clear to me what our nex-” [6th Sense] is going haywire! I almost threw myself off my chair as a black silhouette flew out of the crowd and over where my head used to be, my wisp snapped into existence next to my head but by the time I was ready to fire whatever that was had disappeared into the crowd. Every player in the vicinity was ready for a fight, for a moment it was dead silent and in that silence the sound of something hollow landing caught all of our attention… It was a rolled up scroll sitting on the table.

“... Mail’s here” I was sent a few flat looks from the crowd for that, my [6th Sense] wasn’t buzzing anymore after that so I assumed there wasn’t anything dangerous about the scroll. The scroll was made out of vellum instead of paper and was banded by a simple blue ribbon, a prompting look from Sarah and the Captain made me stop examining the outside and unroll the letter.

“Our Dear Sister Tribe, with the most joy filled hearts we are happy to tell you that your cousin tribes have decided to follow your lead and settle down leaving behind our nomadic ways. With the advent of our new lives on the horizon our leaders thought it would be prudent to host a summit of a sort, To share information and make our time adjusting as easy as possible. We feel that just as many of your people feel the nigh daunting feeling of change as ours does and we wish to instill a feeling of unity in these trying times. The location of the summit will be at Mount Canter and the former capital… Canterlot! Signed… The Changeling, Griffin, Pegasus, and Diamond Dog Tribes!” This… so this is where all the other players went! This is why there are only unicorns and earth ponies in our group, I'm guessing that the few Pegasai that slipped through was the work of the spirit.

“ Ah… This is fantastic news I hope” The stunned silence was broken by a slightly confused militia captain Worn Barding, we were all caught flat footed and had yet to recover from the reveal. My throat was extremely dry after so much talking, I'm starting to think I might lose my voice after all this, thankfully Eric/Flint recovered quickly and was able to divert the conversation.

“Yes, this is very good news for us, since its a personal matter we’ll have to talk more about it later… We had just finished talking about establishing the Guild right?” The deep rumbling baritone of Eric’s voice was much more reassuring than I sure felt and thankfully the militia captain felt the same.

“Ah right, I’ll need to speak to the baron of South town first before your guild can really get started, but I don’t think it’ll be that much of an issue. He’s an old friend of mine and will trust me when I say that this will benefit us all.” And just like that the main problem of this forum meeting was resolved, we all rose from our seats to walk the militia captain back to his troops so they can begin their march home. There was some light conversation on the way there about how someone will have to travel to South town to meet with the baron, while the conversation was light and pleasant there was a deeper tension to it. Like the only person not aware of an invisible threat was the captain, the moment the captain and his guards were gone another much more serious meeting would start.

“Thank you all again for your assistance in stopping this threat dead in its tracks, especially you Arcane Hope. Are you sure you won’t reconsider joining my militia? We could use somepony like you on the team” God, this was like dealing with an overly persistent door to door salesman.

“I’m sorry, but I’ll have to decline. My tribe is very important to me, but when the guild gets established I’ll only be a request away” Worn gave me a joking look of sadness before barking out some laughter and turning to the assembled militia men and medics. I didn’t stick around to watch the captain bark orders and turned to return to the meeting area with Aaron, Sarah, and Eric. The village looked completely different, houses had been patched up, the debris had been disposed of, the bodies that previously littered the streets were nowhere to be found, and I couldn’t spot a single blood splatter. If ponies are good at anything… it’s cleaning up after a disaster, of course this didn’t change the fact the villagers still carried around their weapons even now. I saw a mother pass by me with her daughter sitting on her back holding groceries and a blood stained farming sickle strapped to her side, we had forever changed this village and I don’t know if it was for the better or the worst.

Making it back to the meeting area I saw that the makeshift forum had been dismantled for the most part, a few players were milling around holding chairs or just hanging out on the leftover furniture. Getting to the house the meeting was set up in front of, I saw Sarah in the window gesturing with a hoof to come inside. The farm houses seemed to be almost carbon copies of each other, same kitchen layout, same living room, same staircase location. The main differences were the decorations and choice of furniture, this one actually had a sofa in the living room. That’s where I found the three, all hunched over the surprise invitation rereading it like it would magically give more clues about the other player groups… actually that might be possible here.

“I’m just going to start off by saying what everyone is thinking… this could be a trap, but we still need to know” My words pulled the three out of their muted shock, this is a massive game changer in the most literal sense. This isn’t just a small group of players against the world now, this could be a united force searching for a solution to all this and if there isn’t a solution then… we can at least make our quality of life better for ourselves.

“I’m with Marcus with this, there’s also the issue of us not knowing this world as much as we think… this isn’t the Equestria we all fell in love with” That might be the most I’ve heard Sarah speak all day, she brought up a very important point too. We are severely starved for information, I've only just figured out where we are on Equestria’s map and I have an inkling that the general government has diminished greatly if not disappeared altogether. I also have the whole fake video game/spirit issue to deal with, things are not looking the best at the moment.

“Well if information is an issue then I might have a solution that would also fix our estranged player problem… Markus, is your team ready for another journey?” Oh God, he wants to send us ahead! That would get the two people who suspect him the most out of his way for quite a long time… unless?

“I think we’ll have no problem reaching Mount Canter, but someone will still need to travel around and establish more guild halls for our new guilds… Hmm.” I feigned thinking for a moment before perking up as if coming up with an idea. “Aaron you’re pretty persuasive aren’t you? How about while me and my team are traveling to Mount Canter, you and a team of your choice could go town to town spreading word of our guild and establishing more halls along the way. That way all of our problems are taken care of in one fell swoop” I saw a slightly panicked looking Aaron begin to open his mouth to interject, but I had already cut him off and tore apart whatever paltry excuse he had left. “Don’t worry about needing to talk to the Baron or running things here, Eric and Sarah have got things well in hand-er hoof don’t you two” The two seemed to actually perk up at my acknowledgement, where before Sarah would look uncomfortable at the attention now she seemed to have opened up a bit more since then not even flinching when I involved her.

“Markus is right, I have experience running my father’s manufacturing plant back home so talking to officials and filling out forms is almost second nature to me and Sarah here is probably the most trusted player other than Markus and you, you have nothing to worry about here” I tried to keep my surprised look hidden from Sarah as she gave Eric a proud nod, whatever had happened for her to gain everyone’s trust must have happened after my team had split from the main player group.

“Ah… that’s… a g-great idea Markus” Aaron’s barely concealed snarl was hastily buried under a very strained smile, Eric and Sarah simply took the strained look as increased worry which they hastily tried to disperse, but I had caught a glimpse past the mask he shows everyone. Now he has almost no chance of hurting anyone among the players, but there is still the chance of him preparing something on his travels though I had bought myself some time to plan and prepare myself and others for his reveal.

“Then it’s decided! We’ll take today to get prepared then in the morning we'll hold an announcement to the players and tell them our plans going forward then set out from there. Thank you for inviting me to this meeting… oh and Aaron? … See you on the other side” I swear his rage was almost palpable and I relished in every moment of it, I assume [6th Sense] is the reason why I can read his emotions so easily. I really need to get around to fully exploring all my abilities, just because I have the skill doesn’t mean I know everything.

Author's Note:

AAAANNNNDDD BOOOOM! FINALLY GOT TO IT!
I don't know why it took so long to get to but now you know where the other species are.
The beginning of a new are is at hand... hoof... paw... whatever, it is time to travel and world build which is my favorite part.:trixieshiftleft:
The whole Adventuring Guild this was an idea from a friend of mine, I was originally going to have them just claim a desolated town and make it their own. Though in hindsight I like this much more.
SO MANY PLANS ARE COMING TOGETHER... I'm excited
One last thing, there is going to be a lot of new characters in the future because of all the traveling around so I was wondering if anyone wanted their own OC's to be in the stories and if you want them to be doing anything like being a potion maker in the woods or an traveling warrior that stops by to help the main characters... Heck they could even be a quest giver or something if it makes sense. Any creature is welcome as long as they aren't too absurd.

I hope you enjoyed and Happy Adventuring :heart:

UPDATE!!!
I finished a little something...

I really just drew a whole scene for the first time... I'm kind of proud of myself and I made their hair look not terrible and for the first time in a millennium Markus the muddy mage has misplaced his muck and is rocking the freshly washed look...nice

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