3 Burning Aura

    The flames from the warehouse climbed high into the night.  The inferno only a few feet away was filled with screams of the dieing and the acrid smell of burning flesh.  Smoke, fire and the screams of the agony, pleasant music to the ears of an arsonist who lived for revenge.

    Nix sat upright in bed, the smell of smoke filling his nostrils.  He should have been surprised to wake up in a bed of flames, but he wasn't.  He quickly patted out the flames and got out of bed.  The clothes he had gone to sleep in had been reduced to ashes.

    He wrapped a charred blanket around himself and went off in search of Hyai. Luckily she had mentioned where her room was.

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    A sleepy-looking Hyai opened the door at his second knock.  "Is there a problem Nix?"

    "Is waking up on fire a problem?'

    "It could be. Go back to your room and I'll be right there."

    A few minutes later the Inn Keeper entered the room.  Immediately she walked over to the window and opened it.  She frowned at the burnt blankets.  "What happened Nix?"

    "I was dreaming of fire I think.  The smell of smoke woke me up and I found this."  The sheets seemed to be unaffected, his clothes and the blanket were the only victims of the sudden night flames.

    Hyai didn't seem angry with him, she was quite calm while she asked him a few questions.  "Could you display your stats for me Nix?"

    He nodded and displayed them on his hud.


    Level 1

    Strength 35

    Endurance 44

    Intelligence 25

    Dexterity 25

    Perception 25

    Cold Resistance 90

    Fire Resistance 100

    [Burning Aura]


    Hunter 100

    Leather Making 100

    Tailor  42

    "You have a natural Fire Aura.  That's really rare."  She smiled when she said it, "people with strong ties to the elements sometimes have them.  I've never heard of this one, but you'll have to pick up an aura limiter to prevent you from burning down buildings."

    "Problematic, my funds are quite low at the moment."

    "You have some useable skills.  Perhaps you should head down to the Adventurer Guild and take on a few quests."

    Nix nodded while he looked at his stats.  His strength and stamina had jumped drastically.  The lifestyle skills he possessed were now separate.  Gladis Corp lifestyle players obviously enjoyed benefits that others did not.  Then there was the biggest change of all, he now possessed a level.

    "You must have come here directly from your starter city."

    Nix nodded, "where can I train weapons?"

    "The Weapon Master Guild."  Haiya favored him with a smile, "not going to take the path of fire?  You seem to have an affinity with it."

    Nix shook his head, "I've already been down the path of fire, this time I'll do something else."

    "Were you perhaps considering a Lifestyle path?"

    Nix kept his face expressionless.  "What makes you ask that?"

    "Your stats, only Lifestyle players have dexterity and perception.  Normally those two would be replaced with agility and something else."

    "I considered it briefly."  Somehow he had the feeling that the character generation screen he had seen, was nothing like the ones normal players experienced.  "I'll replace those blankets Hyai."

    The Inn Keeper waved it off. "We're friends, it's a small thing.  Wait here for a moment."

    A short while later she came back with a box of clothes.  "Not sure why I kept these, they should be close to your size."

    Nix looked through the box, there were a few other items as well.  "Hyai... Is it okay for you to give me these things?"

    She nodded and pushed the box toward him. "I've clung to these out of sentiment."

    "Thank you Hyai."


    An hour later Nix was walking down the boardwalk of the aptly named Guild Street.  He was dressed in the brown leathers that Hyai had given him.  Her husband had been a hunter in his adventuring days, before settling down to run an Inn.

    The Weapon Guild looked a lot like a warehouse he had once burned down.  It was a large, ugly rectangle building with many large ground-level windows that let in the light.  There were more than a dozen different booths.  Initial weapon training was free of charge, which also came with a beginner kit.

    He had never owned a gun in real life.  However, he was drawn by the image of the rifle on the sign above the old man's booth.  The man's face was wrinkled and weathered by years spent outdoors.  He wore his white hair in a long ponytail.  Despite his age, he stood ramrod straight.  His fierce eyes took in Nix when he stopped.

    The old man bowed slightly.  "Greetings friend.  I'm Salvo, a marksman of the Weapon's Guild."

    Nix returned his bow.  "I'm Nix.  I am interested in learning the Rifle weapon skill."

    Rifles and Pistols in Colonial did not require bullets.  They fired a magic-based projectile that did physical damage.  Guns came with a core, that needed to be replaced after several thousand rounds had been fired.

    The free weapon was an open site rifle with a sling.

    Tucker Rifle: Basic

    Description: An easy to use

    rifle with decent accuracy.

    Bind on Pick-up.

    [Do you wish to place this item in your inventory?]

    "Yes."  His inventory automatically opened.  He was sure that he didn't have access to an inventory back at the Gladis Hub.  It was much bigger than he would have guessed, and surprisingly it was filled with a complete set of advanced Tailor equipment and a lot of different materials.

    He decided on a whip as his secondary weapon.  There was no real reasoning behind it.  He liked the way it looked.  Since both primary and secondary weapons could be reset for a small fee, he didn't worry about making a bad choice.

    His last stop was the Adventurer Guild. Initially, he had wanted to spend the day in the library but the need for credits caused him to delay those plans.  The Adventurer Guild in Cyphix was a small brick building with a half dozen self-service kiosks in it.  Registration was a simple eye scan and immediately he had access to the Quest menu.  They were listed by level and were limited to three quests at a time.  The daily limit for quests was 15.

    He picked up a wolf hunting quest to start and headed out.   A small mini-map popped up on his hud when he walked out of the town gate.  There were red dots scattered throughout the map.  "Nice of them to show me where the quest mobs are."

    Wolf infestation

    Quest: Local farmers are overrun with wolves.  Bring down as many of the creatures as you can.  Time limit: 4 hours.

    As he walked south, the temperature rose quickly.  By the time he had walked half an hour, he was comfortably warm.  Nix found a small meadow with an abundance of wolves, after setting up on a large boulder he decided to get started.

    As part of his skill training, he understood the basic mechanics of shooting.  He took aim at a nearby wolf and pulled the trigger.


    He took a deep breath, trying not to worry about the huge creature charging toward him.  He fired twice more before the wolf tumbled to the ground.

    [You have received 100 XP].

    [You cannot process the Wolf meat without cans]

    He looted the animal to receive 1 tooth.

    [Do you wish to skin the Arctic Wolf?]


    [Without a skinning knife in your inventory, you are limited to normal pelts.]

    [One normal Wolf pelt has been added to your inventory.]

    The next four hours was an exercise in patience.  Nix quickly decided to never grab this sort of mind-numbing quest again.  He managed to reach level four, and his rifle skill rose to 18.

    With his inventory full of pelts, he started back toward town.  The sound of fighting caused him to stop.  Was there someone else hunting here?  He was tempted to investigate, but the deafening sound of gunfire, followed by an explosion made him decide not to.  "I'm not strong enough to mess around yet."

    An uneventful trip back to the turn-in Kiosk netted him enough experience to make it to level five.  The added bonus of 3 thousand credits put some bounce in his step as he headed to the general store he had noticed.

    He bought a fine skinning knife for 3 hundred credits.  The Aura limiter that Hyai had mentioned was a ring that cost a thousand credits.  Nix winced in pain when he bought it.  The cans were only 1 credit each, so he purchased a hundred of them.

    There were some tables set up in the corner of the shop, so he took a seat and enjoyed a hot cup of complimentary coffee.  "Since I have the ability, I should start doing trade skills."  He examined the wolf pelts in his inventory. There were 83 of them, he had been planning to sell them but refrained when he saw they only sold for 3 credits each.

    [Do you wish to process the Normal Wolf pelts?]


    His hud popped up, and a progress bar could be seen moving slowly to the right.  "That's going to take a while."

    He brought up a world map and zoomed out so he could get a good overview of Colonia.  There were seven continents.  Three in the middle of the map seemed fairly close and could have probably been classified as archipelagos.  Set into a triangle of sorts, they were Hispana, Wisteria and Phelinomia.  His current location was Tunis, there were three other large landmasses.  Broyan to the south, Escavar to the east and Jhabi to the west.

    From what he could see, there were dozens of small kingdoms that were loosely aligned with each faction.  A few mid-sized territories had also formed, but no large empires.  He had just finished reading when his progress bar dinged.

    [115 Fine Leathers have been added to your inventory.]

    He checked the price of them with the store clerk and decided to sell them for 25 credits each.

    He decided to head out again, this time he would skip the quests and harvest pelts while he did some exploring.  Although it was only mid-afternoon, there were dozens of people walking out of the gate.  Groups of 4 or 5 hurried together while talking excitedly.  Nix fell in step with one of the smaller groups.

    "What's going on?" Nix smiled pleasantly, although being over-friendly wasn't his thing. The group consisted of three men, all relatively young.  They had the same black hair that looked like it had been cut using a soup bowl.

    "You haven't heard?  A Salamander has been found! One of the big Guilds from Escavar found it.  They are paying 5 thousand credits to each person who volunteers to help."

    Nix nodded nonchalantly. "Hmm... Sounds like easy money."

    The group parted from him a few minutes later.  He didn't ask to join them and they didn't offer.  NIx had seen big corporations take advantage of the masses.  This had that same sort of feel.

    The meadow he had hunted in earlier was now filled with dozens of small tents. Instead of lingering in the area he headed west, away from the crowd.

    A herd of deer next to a small creek served as the next hunting camp for Nix.  There were about twenty of them, all between levels 5 and 10.

    He started on the outskirts of the herd.  He had expected them to run when he fired but they didn't.  The one he hit, lowered his head and charged him.  It died five yards from him, having taken five shots.

    [You have received 300 XP]

    [Do you wish to process the Deer meat?]


    [2 cans of fine venison has been added to your inventory.]

    [Do you wish to skin the common deer?]


    [1 fine deer pelt has been added to your inventory.]

    Nix whittled the deer herd down to the last few before they took off running.  He didn't bother to chase them, he had made it to level 7 and had his inventory packed with canned meat and pelts.

    He washed his hands in the stream, taking a moment to splash a bit on his face.  Although the work wasn't hard, it had turned unseasonably warm.  Perhaps the presence of a Salamander had something to do with it.

    Nix sat on the bank and pulled his boots off.  They were a size too big, but since they had been free, he really couldn't complain.  He soaked his feet in the water and lay back on the bank of the river.

    He didn't notice the bubbling of the water until it began to heat up.  "The hell is that?"
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