Up until this point you had wanted to avoid people, but you were far more confident now and having a fearsome water stallion on your side made you feel much stronger.
Towards the town Ægir walked, his watery ears flicking forward and back the closer he got and heard the hum of market chatter and other mundane noises coming from inside the older style brick walls.
“Easy,” you said in a calming low voice to him as he let out a snort of warning through his nostrils.
As you entered the town gates, the guards either side stopped chatting to each other and looked at you, watching you with awe as you passed slowly.
You smiled politely and nodded down to them as Ægir walked on stately, not stopping to talk.
Because you were used to having Ægir with you, you didn’t realize what a magnificent sight you were, atop such a fearsome looking creature, and you were a little confused when people started to stop and stare as you passed.
“Mummy a horse! A wet horse!” a small child called out loudly and Ægir’s ears flicked forward and back.
“Shhhh,” the mother of the child hushed, “don’t be so loud…”
You looked down at them and the mother had pulled her curiously little one back and hidden them behind herself, avoiding eye contact with you.
“Do I look like a villain?”
The further into the town you got, the more people were stopping to stare and a few had even started following a distance behind you, wondering who you were and what you were doing with such a giant horse.
You could hear whispers as you passed some, and news spread quickly of a newcomer on a fearsome stallion that was walking through the centre of town.
“Let’s keep going, Ægir,” you said to your steed, feeling like the crowd was starting to get a little too much.
“She’s with Migata,” you heard someone say to their friend as you passed, “I saw her at the interview with Free. I had heard she was mysterious and powerful but I didn’t know she had a water stallion as a pet!”
You passed on and didn’t hear the friend’s reply but it sounded like people were starting to put the pieces together.
“That’s not a pet,” you heard someone else say, “that’s the boss of level 5. I had to fight him. I couldn’t beat him the first time around…”
“It can’t be?” someone else replied them, “how did she get the boss of level 5 to be her companion?”
“Is it another glitch?”
“What class is she? Is she a beast tamer?”
Question after question floated past you on the wind as curious onlookers spoke their queries out loud.
You tried not to let it get to you but you were starting to think that maybe you had made the wrong decision, coming into town.
As you looked up, you could see the gates of the other end of town, looming up ahead, and you bent your head to Ægir who seemed to be picking up on your unease.
“Let’s go,” you said softly, “let’s get out of here.”
Just as you were about to urge him faster, a very large man stepped right into your path and Ægir stopped.
This man looked fearsome and had a heavy scowl on his face.
“Oh shit. This doesn’t look good…”
You straightened on the back of your steed and tried to look threatening yourself.
“Please, step aside,” you called to the man, who had by now, crossed his arms across his chest.
“State, ya business,” he growled.
“I have no business,” you replied, “I am just passing through…” You looked at his username. “…Grizzlee.”
The man scowled. “Who are you… U/N?”
“I am not here to cause trouble,” you replied, trying to make your voice sound gentler, “I am working on new skills and have been working my way up from level 1. This is my first time making contact with other players.”
“Are ya in a guild?” Grizzlee asked gruffly.
“Uh… I… I’m not sure if it’s a guild but I do play alongside Migata, Butterfli3, and O/N…”
“Butterfli3?!” Grizzlee asked suddenly, “the top player? Surely ya lying. I know Butterfli3 well and he ain’t one to have others ‘xcept his rat merchant, with him.”
“Well I don’t know how else to prove it?” you replied, “but I assure you I’m not lying.”
“If ya run with Butterfli3 then ya got skills,” Grizzlee replied with a smirk, “put ya money where ya mouth is.”
“I don’t want any trouble,” you said, holding a hand up in a stop sign.
“You’ll be gettin’ trouble if you don’t prove yaself,” he sneered, clicking his fingers.
A roar from nearby caused a panicked whisper to ripple through those in the crowd and some people left the scene immediately.
You looked around, wondering what was going on and why a bear could be heard approaching and Ægir stepped around a little, showing his discomfort at hearing a bear getting closer.
Suddenly from behind Grizzlee, a red bear appeared, and Ægir flattened his ears back against his watery head and snorted.
“Hey, it’s ok,” you said calmly to Ægir.
“Yur a beast tamer,” Grizzlee stated, “fight me.”
“I’m not a beast tamer. I’m dancer class but due to a side quest… of sorts… I managed to unlock the boss of level 5 and he is now my companion for life,” you said, your voice breaking a little as Ægir side stepped and then tossed his head impatiently, wanting to get away from the bear and Grizzlee.
“Ya lyin,” Grizzlee growled, “I know what I seen, and yur a beast tamer.”
“I’m telling you, I’m not,” you replied sharply, starting to get fed up with this meat head and his annoying persistence, “but if I must fight to be able to pass and move on then I will.”
“Aaah,” he said with a sneering smile, “there we go.”
“This is all very unnecessary,” you sighed, hopping off Ægir and landing on the ground beside him.
“What’re ya doin?” Grizzlee asked with surprise.
“I’m getting off to fight?” you replied.
Grizzlee blinked at you. “Are ya daft? Are you taking on me bear with ya bare hands? Or are ya givin’ orders to ya horse?”
“I’m fighting your bear by myself?” you replied innocently, “how else was this supposed to happen?”
Grizzlee couldn’t believe his ears.
Beast tamers usually sent their beasts to do the fighting and either stood back and gave orders, or, in the case of horseback, would ride their steed into battle but you didn’t seem to have understood that.