77 Alice Lupin
Around a week before Aries was taken over by the hackers, Alice Lupin finally arrived in the world. She was very late and had to do a great deal of catching up with her friends, but at least she made it. Her parents weren't exactly supportive of her being in a world that was very much like a game. It took quite a lot of effort to convince them.
Alice was determined to suddenly show up in front of Astrid, Lyria, Amelie, and Luna's faces and surprise them, but she wasn't sure where to start. She even forgot the name of the guild they were in!
Beastmaster was a new class that was still in development, but already available to play. She liked the fact that players could opt to bring their pets from the real world and have them be their shapeshifter companions instead of a virtual one. She brought along her cat, Kimmy.
She watched in awe as Kimmy was granted shapeshifting powers. At her command, she could have her cat transform into a limited number of beasts. This number would increase as she levels up.
She decided to start with leveling up first. Surely she would eventually bump into someone who knew her friends and then she could surprise them!
For about an hour, Alice was slaying large caterpillars. She managed to get herself to level 10. It was time she moved to a higher level monster to kill. As she searched for another monster, she was attacked by an aggressive purple caterpillar that spewed poisonous slime on her.
"Noo!" She watched in horror as her health declined fast.
She ran to the nearby waterfall to wash off the poison. While cleaning herself up, she saw what looked like a half-naked man bathing in the waters! He was busy washing his white hair with the falling water. The fierce look in his eyes made him look like an alpha wolf, which she found intimidating and cool at the same time. She noticed a few battle scars on his back and wondered if he got them while inside Aries. Alice quickly turned red and covered her eyes, but accidentally lost her footing and fell into the water.
"Oh crud!" she said as she tried to remain afloat. The middle portion of the body of water was deeper than she imagined.
"Hm?" The man turned around and saw the drowning girl. He swam to her and carried her to the shallow area of the water. "Are you alright?"
Alice was still red with embarrassment. "Thank you! Sorry to disturb you."
"No problem." He gave her a health potion. "You need this."
Alice smiled. He was such a nice person! "Thank you! Sorry." She bowed in apology.
The man was about to say something when his pants suddenly dropped to his feet! For a few seconds, the bottom half of his body was fully exposed to the innocent maiden in front of him. He turned red and quickly pulled them back up.
Alice covered her eyes instinctively. "I'm sorry! I-I didn't see anything!" she said in panic.
"I-It's ok. Sorry about that." The man rubbed the back of his neck. He wasn't sure what to say after that shameful moment.
"I'll get going now. Thank you! And sorry for the trouble!" Alice hurried away awkwardly, leaving the man alone in the waterfall.
"Did I scare her?" he asked himself.
Crud. That was so awkward, she thought as she leaned her back against a tree. She decided to head to town to sell the monster drops before she bumped into the man again.
Lamont was the starting town where new players first spawn into Aries. Even after completing tutorials and getting to a high level, players still return to Lamont for its marketplace and NPC shops. Alice sold her loot at the general store. When she was about to purchase some equipment, she found that her money wasn't enough. Upon exiting the building, she saw an ad plastered on the nearby bulletin board about part time jobs.
"This is it!" she said to herself.
There was one easy job she could take: being a mascot for a café. She would only have to stand outside the store and hand out flyers. Doing this would reward her with gold and some bonus exp for skills. She went to look for the café.
Potato handed Alice the fluffy alpaca costume and flyers. "You get a reward every hour you do this."
Potato was a part time worker at the Lamont Café, but she got so into the job that she worked full time. Gaylord would often complain that she prioritized her café job more than the guild. Players who stopped by the café were often generous and gave her some of their extra loot. She also had the privilege of hearing all sorts of tips, stories, and rumors from them.
When Alice put on the alpaca costume, she felt like a large marshmallow that could fall and roll any minute. She positioned herself outside the café and gave out flyers.
Suddenly, she heard familiar voices.
"I have no idea what dress to get."
"I'm thinking of getting a black one for a change. I'm always wearing light colors."
"That's a good idea. Maybe I should get a light one."
The assassin and the priest were deep in conversation when they walked by Alice. They were on their way to the Lamont marketplace to shop for dresses for the upcoming ball.
Lyria and Astrid!
"Lyria! Astrid!" Alice tried to call them.
"Did you hear something?" Lyria turned her head.
"Hm?" Astrid followed.
"I heard my name being called."
"Lyria! It's me, Alice!" Alice tried to get their attention, but the alpaca costume made her voice sound muffled. She resorted to using hand signs.
"Aww! It's a cute alpaca!" Lyria smiled at the mascot and took a flyer.
Astrid couldn't help but touch the fluffy alpaca mascot. "So fluffy."
"Astrid! It's me, Alice!" Alice tried again.
"Is there a new promotion?" Astrid took a flyer and read it. She couldn't understand what the alpaca was trying to tell her. "This alpaca cake looks delicious."
Lyria and Astrid then turned around and walked away. Alice tried to chase after them, but she tripped and rolled the other way like a marshmallow.
"Crud!" she cursed.
She finally stopped rolling when she was blocked by a man's feet.
"Are you alright?" The man asked. It was the same guy from the waterfall! He helped her up and dusted the dirt off her fluffy alpaca costume. "Be careful." He started petting her head. "So fluffy." He seemed like someone who liked cute alpacas very much, despite looking like a guy who could lead a whole police force.
Alice bowed as thanks, but her alpaca head fell off. She cried inside.
"It's you again," he recognized her. "What are you doing dressed as an alpaca?"
"Part-time job," she replied shyly. She wanted to run away as fast as possible, but she knew she would roll like a marshmallow again.
"You're in need of gold?"
"I'm still new here, so I'm broke."
He paused to think. His gaze landed on her shapeshifter. "I have a job for you that pays well."