Entin leaned back against an old tree out beyond the safety of the city’s walls. There was an energy out here in the Wilds that didn’t exist anywhere else. It was freedom and the lack of fear—Bailey wouldn’t find him here.
Everything changed in that spark of a moment their lips touched. She was his best friend, confidante, sharer of pain and sorrow. They had been through so much together. Perhaps that was why he avoided thinking of her in that way.
But now. . .?
He sighed. Now there was a new set of swirling butterflies in his chest. Things just got complicated and awkward. And he was without the one person he would have—by default—turned to for advice.
Then there was Eizel. All of her perfection seemed to melt away, replaced by something else. Maybe it was the realization that she had the wealth and influence to help others and chose to do nothing. Or maybe it was the fact that she treated him like scum until he had something she wanted.
It spoke volumes the mere fact that he felt more comfortable here than sharing the space of an entire city with either of them.
A few days ago, the Wilds were an arcane place, a dangerous place. Though being in that dungeon had changed him. Dungeons were all about large risks for large rewards. But the Wilds? Death wasn’t such a terrible thing. It was a cycle in the pursuit of progression, not something to fear.
He watched the blue flags dance in the wind above the City of Creannan, his home from home: beautiful, grand, and everything one would expect from a fantasy city.
Somehow, it had only been a few weeks since they digitized. It felt like ages ago, another life, one full of ambitions and limitations . . . and starving, pain, death.
This world was different.
In their timeless immortality, possibilities were endless. He didn’t need to follow society’s expectations, didn’t need to be a market Runner or some employee doing mundane work. He could forge his own path.
Lourne and the others didn’t want a Runner while they adventured in the Wilds. They had progressed in the dungeon as far as they were willing to go and now waited for it to reset.
Much to Entin’s relief, Ruben wasn’t upset about his items. “That stuff?” he had said. “Y’know, boss don’t let me get the good stuff. It’s no bother, man. Gotta keep moving forward, ya hear me?”
The treasure items went to Entin, and they split the coins. Lourne thought it only fair, given how they all died. Without their lucky Runner, none of them would have earned scrap. Though in exchange, they took the random loot drops, saying it would go far in replacing Ruben’s gear.
Entin reached out with two fingers until they touched that invisible sheet of cold glass, then slid them to the left, trailing a line of blue pixels. His game screen materialized from transparent shapes.
He didn’t carry much, just a vial of water, his clothes, and a dagger. With a force press on the dagger, it slipped from his screen and turned into a shimmering outline.
Entin took it, and the dagger fully materialized into light-blue steel, accented in gold. With a twist of his wrist, he summoned the dagger’s Information Box.
- Damage: 88 - 121 Physical
- Durability: 99/100/100
- Perk: Speed I [Increase Speed Attribute by 1]
It was the perfect weapon for a Runner. Not a Runner in the traditional sense. No, a Dungeon Runner. And the dungeon was calling for him to return, promising mystery, adventure, and loot.
He held the dagger out. His gray eyes reflected in the steel, revealing a piece of himself he thought had long died and withered away with the real world. It revealed a renewed excitement and a fiery sense of determination.
So it went without saying . . .
This dungeon’s call? He’d gladly accept.