CAPS – Chapter 18: Meeting

Shen followed the old man’s directions and headed up the road toward the small rise of buildings. 

It was more of a small town than a village. Some shops and restaurants formed around a circular boardwalk. At the center was a large fountain. 

Judging by the body language of the players in the town, this area was mostly populated by starting characters. Several hundred people were looking around, gawking, chatting in small groups. 

Some appeared to be completely new to DR, while others seemed t have to come from other worlds like Shen.

He walked to the center where the fountain was and turned, waiting for Tif to arrive. There were several other people at the fountains, but most appeared to already be in parties. 

Shen opened the SenseDrive overlay menu an opened an app called MetaChat that connected his phone with his game. He found his chat with Tif and typed in a new message.

Hey, I’m at the fountain in the village. 

Tif did not respond right away, which was unusual. He was generally quick to reply to Shen’s messages. 

A minute later, the SenseDrive icon in the corner of his screen pinged. 

He opened it and saw Tif’s relpy. 

Okay Master I am coming. Just give me a moment.

Shen put it away again and noticed that his “Level 1” icon that had appeared in the real world since his resurrection was strangely absent here.

He almost decided to log out just to check to see if it was still there when he woke up. But Tif was on his way, and he told himself he would find out when he was done with this session. 

As he waited, Shen looked around at the details of the world. The graphics were superior to Constellation’s. The reflections, colors, shadows, and movements of the other avatars were dizzyingly realistic. 

He looked down and saw his reflection in the water of the fountain. He then realized he had not been given the option to change his character’s appearance. 

He saw a young man in the water who was on the smaller and skinnier side of typical avatars. His face was not attractive or unattractive, just plain. 

It was a strange contrast to his old avatar in Constellation, who was tall and muscular and handsome. 

Shen had heard that Aurora’s Blessing did things differently than what was common for DRMMOs and assigning a random avatar to players seemed to be one of them.

He tried speaking a few random words and noticed that his voice was also altered. Though it still held a similarity to his real voice. 

“Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to change my look later,” he said, looking down at his own body. It wasn’t very appealing, which was part of the fun of playing in a virtual world.

Several minutes had gone by. He checked MetaChat again. Still nothing. 

What was taking Tif so long? It was impossible to get lost from the docks. All the new players were steaming in. Some stopped, bust most were moving on in the direction of the first city. 

He sent him another message. Did you find the circle?

Yes, Master, I am here. 

You are?

Shen looked around but didn’t see anyone that might have been Tif. Everyone else near the fountain already had companions. 

He walked around the fountain, passing the different parties. There was only one person who was alone like him, but it was a pretty girl who looked to be about 18 or 19 years old. 

Where? Shen asked in the chat. 

I’m at the fountain.

Then Shen noticed the girl close her menu just as he received the message.

Wait a minute.

“You’re Tif!?”

“Master?” The girl said. Even her voice was extremely feminine. 

“I can’t believe it,” Shen said. “The game randomly gave you a female avatar?”

“Ah, yes it seems like it,” the girl who was Tif said, looking at Shen’s avatar, showing a bit surprise of her own at Shen’s lackluster avatar. In comparison, Tif looked like the type of avatar you’d spend hours crafting to get everything just right. 

With the improvement in graphics, Shen had trouble not gawking at Tif’s curves as she moved. She was stunning. He was stunning, Shen corrected in his head and rubbed his hair. 

“If the game randomly assigned you a female avatar, I bet we can change our appearances later. It’ll probably cost money though,” Shen said, wishing Laaysa’s research had given some details on this. Although she, of course, wouldn’t have wasted time on the cosmetic aspects of the game. He could discover those for his own as he played. 

“Let’s party up,” he said to Tif and sent a party invite. 

Once she, that is to say, he joined the party, a screen popped up showing Shen Tif’s stats. He noticed that they were different from his own. He opened his own screen to compare the two.

“Huh… you have more constitution and strength that I do,” Shen said.  “Looks like starting attributes are also randomly assigned.”

Tif opened his menu. “You’re right. Your agility is higher than mine though.”

Tif: Agility: 5, Strength 7, Endurance 7, Constitution 7

Chryses: Agility 10, Strength 6, Endurance 5, Constitution 5

They also each had 5 attribute unassigned attribute points. 

“Laaysa didn’t tell me about character creation at all. But I do know a bit about how the attribute points work. Strength determines how much you can carry and the strength of your attacks. Agility determines the speed of movement. Endurance determines how much energy you have for movement and attacks. Constitution determines your health.”

“Hmm… but what kind of build should we do?”

“Not sure. Laaysa didn’t recommend any. She said it would depend.” Which Shen thought was unusual for the Chief Strategist, who typically gave out very precise strategies. “But the combat here is really different from Constellation. Apparently, strength determines how high you can jump, knock-back distance, and the weight of the items you can lift. And people with high agility can slow time.”

“Slow time?” Tif asked. It was so strange to hear her girlish voice. 

“Yeah… I’m not sure how it works though. Guess we’ll figure it out as we go. Let’s just leave the points unassigned for now.”

While he was looking at his character account, he noticed that he had 500 copper coins, a short sword, the simple clothes he wore, some fruit, and an iron ring. 

He noted that a person could exchange credits for in-game currency right from the inventory screen. He clicked on the banking icon, and the game asked for permission to connect to his real-world bank account through his SenseDrive. He accepted. 

One credit provided 100 copper coins, which were equivalent to a silver coin. It took 100 silver coins to make up a gold coin, the highest denomination of currency in the game. So one gold coin was equivalent to 100 real-world credits. 

This meant he could quickly spend all his savings if he weren’t careful. But it also meant he could potentially make real money through any game currency he earned. 

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