“Okay, so let me get this straight,” I said as I eyeballed the instructions on my computer screen while my gaming buddies, Yellowshoes and TheBigSix, waited for me to finish reading. “First, I have to disguise myself as a fair maiden in need.”
“Might be tricky,” TheBigSix pointed out.
I arched an eyebrow. “How so?”
“Have you taken a look at your avatar lately?” he asked, and I took in the sight of the little gargoyle with more hair sticking out of his nose than he had on his head.
“Afric doesn’t subscribe to the mainstream standard of beauty,” Yellowshoes argued, her tone fixing for a fight.
“Well, there’s the mainstream standard of beauty, and then there’s plain hideousness,” TheBigSix griped. “Afric’s goblin is hideous.”
“Hey! He’s not a goblin. He’s a gargoyle. He’s also considered quite handsome where he comes from,” I stated.
“And where would that be, exactly? Some rat-infested hovel that stinks of piss?”
“You’re cruising for a bruising,” I warned.
“Can you two focus? I have an early shift in four hours, and I’d like to get this sidequest completed before then.”
I sighed and brought my attention back to the instructions on the screen. “So, after I disguise myself as a maiden, I then have to ride out to Redcrop Manor, gain entry, seduce Lord Varady, and shag him to sexual exhaustion. When he’s finally fallen asleep, I have to sneak into his study, steal the Ruby of the Forgotten, bring it back to Laurel Garden, place it upon the Giving Fountain, and then all the mermaids trapped in Seacroft Cove will be freed?”
“That’s about the size of it,” TheBigSix replied through my headset, a rumble of amusement in his thick Scottish accent.
I blew out a breath. “Talk about a sidequest. My poor gargoyle is going to be exhausted by the time he’s completed all that.”
“But you love sidequests,” Yellowshoes said. “They’re your catnip.”
“You’re right. I do love a sidequest for my sins. I’m just wondering how I’m going to manage this disguise.”
“You could pay a visit to the Field of Bargains,” TheBigSix suggested. “Someone might barter with you and grant you the magic to glamour yourself as the maiden.”
I chewed my lip. “That seems like an awful lot of work.”
“It’ll be worth it to free the mermaids,” Yellowshoes urged.
“Yes,” TheBigSix agreed. “Just think about how grateful all those gorgeous mermaids will be after you’ve freed them.”
“My gargoyle isn’t interested in sexual favours. He’s like Varys from Game of Thrones, all political intrigue and whispers. The mechanics of power is what turns him on.”
“Well, then think about how grateful they’ll be to me,” TheBigSix replied. His avatar was a tall, silver-haired warrior with a scarred face and golden armour.
“I’m not here to facilitate your sexual exploits.”
“How does a person even have sex with a mermaid?” Yellowshoes mused, her multi-coloured unicorn avatar kicking back its hind legs. “Their entire bottom half is a fish tail.”
“They still have mouths,” TheBigSix muttered under his breath, and I chuckled while Yellowshoes made a grossed-out noise.
“You’re disgusting,” she complained.
“You love how disgusting I am,” he shot back.
“I do not!”
“Are you both going to accompany me to the Field of Bargains so that I can barter for this magical glamour then?” I interrupted because the two of them would argue for hours if left unchecked.
“Yes,” they replied in unison.
I grinned. “All right then, let’s get this show on the road.”
Several hours later, we’d successfully completed the sidequest and TheBigSix was off enjoying himself with all those freed mermaids. Yellowshoes and I decided to call it a day since she had to work and I had to meet my best friend, Michaela, for lunch. Glancing at the clock, I decided that I’d better get a move on if I didn’t want to be late. I stared longingly at my computer as I powered everything down. The addicted part of my brain just wanted to stay in all day and game.
When I was a teenager, I discovered Greenforest, an online game set in a high fantasy, medieval-style world filled with magical creatures, political corruption, power grabs, and adventures galore. After a few years of obsessively playing the game, on a whim, I created a stream for other people to watch me play. I never expected it to turn into an actual job, but over time, I accumulated an audience.
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