8 Returning the Favor
The Magenta Bear Den was always filled with players farming for the valuable magenta ores, which is used to upgrade equipment. The bears that inhabit the place dropped the rare ore occasionally. They were the fastest ore-dropping monster to kill, which is why players often preferred killing bears.
Luna lured all the nearby bears and killed them with one swoop of her blade. Astrid stayed in a corner, luring the bears there and using an area of effect skill Earth Strike to kill those at close range.
As Astrid picked up the ore that dropped, she noticed a white haired mage yawning and casting an area of effect skill. He looked extremely bored repeating the cycle of casting and collecting loot. She stood still for a moment and stared at him.
"What's wrong, Astrid?" Luna asked.
She still kept her eyes on him. "It's Garth."
"That's Garth? Woah. He looks strong. Are you going to talk to him?"
"He looks busy..."
Luna gave her a push. "Go! At least say hi."
"But what if I'm disturbing him?" Astrid was suddenly bashful.
"He looks pretty bored to me. Go entertain him!"
Astrid took a deep breath. "Ok. I'll do it." She couldn't understand why she was feeling a little nervous. They've met several times at night before. This was their second random encounter during the daytime besides the day she first saw him.
"Garth!" Astrid called.
Garth was startled a bit upon hearing his name. It was like someone shook him from his sleep. He turned his head and noticed her. "Hey Astrid." He rubbed his eye.
Astrid approached him. "What are you up to?"
"Farming for ores."
"Here." She offered him the ores she collected.
He stared at the ores on her hand. "But aren't you farming for these too?"
"It's fine. Take them. I'll help you farm."
He smiled. "Thanks. I'll pay for these."
"No need to pay me. You've already helped me enough. I want to help you too."
He didn't argue with her. He stood and watched as she killed a nearby bear.
"Got another one." She held up an ore while grinning. She didn't notice the bear boss and its minions coming up behind her. The moment she turned her head, they were all frozen. "Huh?" She looked back at Garth who gave a thumbs-up.
"Keep fighting. I'll watch your back," he said.
She smiled. "Thanks."
They continued to farm for two hours without talking much until Garth spoke, "I think this is enough."
Astrid nodded and stopped fighting. "Alright."
"Astrid, wait for me at the town square." He immediately teleported.
Luna ran to her friend. "I heard the whole thing. Ooh!" She nudged her.
Astrid blushed a little. "I'm just paying back his kindness. That's all."
Luna snickered. "Have fun in town. I'll stay here and farm some more. Report to us later tonight when you get back to the base, ok?"
"If something interesting happens, that is." Astrid teleported to town.
Once she was at the town square, she sat on a bench. It wasn't long before she heard her name being called.
"Astrid." Garth sat beside her on the bench. He gave her cat ears. "Here."
"Cat ears?" She stared at the headgear.
"Try them on."
He stared at her, waiting for her to put the headgear on. She was a bit embarrassed to wear the ears, but she tried them on anyway.
"Cute," he commented.
She turned red. "Thanks."
"It has plus 20 agility, so you'll be faster now."
"Plus 20?" She was shocked to hear the number.
"It's a special version of the headgear, so it adds 10 to agility instead of 5. I added in two agility cards and a defense card to it."
There's no way she'd stop wearing the cat ears after hearing the status point bonuses.
He smiled. "You're welcome. See you tomorrow." He stood up and teleported back to the Black Rose Headquarters.
"Nice cat ears, Astrid." Luna began nudging the guildmaster. "So, did anything happen?"
By the time Astrid returned to the base, Luna was already sitting in the bedroom room with a sweet roll. Lyria was in the living room with a cup of tea.
Astrid pointed at her cat ears. "He just gave me this. That's all."
Luna smirked. "That's it? Are you sure that's it?"
Astrid blushed a little. "He said they were cute."
"Oh my!" Luna jumped on the bed and started rolling around. "So now you're never taking them off?"
"Of course not. This adds 20 agility."
Lyria was shocked to hear the number. "I bet that headgear is worth a lot in the market."
"I don't even want to check the price."
"Oh yeah. Magnus suddenly gave me 15 wolf cubs. What do you think I should do with it?"
"Wolf cubs?" Luna got off the bed.
Lyria removed all 15 of them from her inventory. The little cubs walked around the room. "Yeah. Wolf cubs. Are they useful by any chance?"
Astrid's jaw dropped. "That's a lot! And he just gave them to you?"
"How did he get all these?" Luna picked one cub up.
"Boss hunts, apparently," Lyria replied.
Amelie squealed. "They're so cute!"
Astrid was deep in thought for a moment. "Fifteen is too many, but wolf cubs are indeed useful. When they grow into mature wolves, they can fight with you in battle and you can also use them as mounts. I suggest keeping one for each of us and selling all the others."
"Can't we keep all of them?" Amelie asked. "It would be too mean to sell them."
"This house is too small to accommodate fifteen wolves."
"Then why don't we just upgrade the headquarters and make it bigger?"
"Easier said than done. Right now, we need to use our funds for our equipment and preparations for the event."
Amelie sulked. "They're too cute to sell."
Luna shook her head. "Amelie, we can't just keep every cute pet we run across."
"It's Chris! And I want to collect them all and become the very best trainer that no one ever was!"
"Listen, Amelie, if you really want to keep them, you can keep them all in your inventory. I have no objections," Lyria said.
"My bags will become full..."
"Exactly why we're selling them."
"Fine! We can sell them, but I want to make sure they get into good homes."
Astrid nodded. "Alright. You're in charge of selling the rest of the wolf cubs."
Amelie did a salute. "Leave it to me!"
"Anyway, let's sit down and discuss our strategy for the world guild war."
Everyone gathered in the living room. Luna brought out the magazine from the room and opened it to the page where the details about the event were written.
Astrid started, "We have a week left before the start of the one on one battles. According to the rules, each guild has to send representatives to fight five matches. Representatives can play more than one match. The other guilds will probably send in their best fighters, so if we want to have a good chance of winning this, it might be best to pick two representatives and spend the remaining week focusing on raising their levels and getting them good equipment."
"Full support priests are definitely not made for player battles, so it's going to be one of you three," said Lyria.
"Wait. A representative can fight all five matches, right?" Luna asked.
"Yes. It's allowed," said Astrid.
"Why don't you fight all five matches, Astrid?"
"I mean, if we focus all our energy on making you powerful, you can probably score us some wins and get us through the first preliminaries. We just need three wins out of five to qualify."
"I don't know..."
"Think about it, Astrid. How long did it take Garth to get you to level 60?"
"Around a week I think."
"We'll be up against players who are at least level 90. Even if you manage to get one of us at level 60, we still won't stand a chance. We might as well just focus on making you powerful."
Astrid shook her head. "I'll definitely collapse from exhaustion if I fight all five matches."
"I don't think that will happen. The matches are spread out across the week. So, you'd fight maybe one match a day."
Astrid still didn't like the idea. "I'll agree to becoming a representative under one condition."
"You become a representative too and fight one match."
Luna gave it some thought. "I can't assure a win though."
"It's alright. Just do your best. I need you to fight the third match, so I can have a short break in between two sets of consecutive matches."
"Alright. I can do that."
Astrid turned to the rest of the members. "I'll need four skill reset items and a lot of magic stones."