New Grind, Same Problems

Chapter 2: Graveyard Shift Part 1

In a world far away, dealing with bullshit different, yet similar to your own. It is the mystical planet Birileth. A planet overflowing with beautiful creatures, wonderful cultures, and the blessing of magic upon the world and available to almost all its citizens.

Its also arguably on **ing fire. With the ability for anyone to do anything with enough money or natural strength, the world has been ravaged of its natural resources. Fresh water is scarce if you
e not paying for premium membership with your water company. The mana you
e using to fuel your car might be harvested by utilizing the souls of the dead. And of course, no one gives a damn cause they
e too busy being worked to death or they
e high, both, or something else. Maybe something nice like they have a family to care for. By working for a amorale company…

But don worry, theres still adventure to be had in this land! In fact theres too much adventure because of all that magic. Did you know some of the bears here can breathe fire? Its terrifying.

There are thousands of guilds across the planet. And all the ones that matter reside in the country of Alpherius, in the city of Providence. A city designed around the needs of adventurers…and then to profit off of them.

It has everything youd want! Taverns, beautiful people, wonderful magical items, weapons, armors, and lets not forget potions! Just uh, don be caught taking the wrong ones. This country ain nice about drug problems.

And of course, these adventurers are here for their rewards, collected from the government or more likely, their guild. Lets focus on one such guild.

A young woman paces back and forth in her neat, crimson office nervously. She has brown skin, golden eyes, and straight blonde hair, tied back into a ponytail. She wears a black leather jacket, an enchanted steel breastplate that has a red tint to it, dark red pants, and black boots with bloodstained soles.

”This weeks report doesn look too good. The adventurers Im in charge of are unhappy. And they
e not performing at their expected level. ” she thinks nervously.

Her name is August Caeser, shes the daughter of two of the founders of her guild, the Crimson Wolves. A powerful adventuring guild on the surface, with a rotten dual identity as mercenaries for hire.

She hears a soft ding in her ear, a sign from her Magic System that shes received a message. She concentrates on opening the message, and after a second, a black message box with crimson cursive appears before her.

August, come to my office please.

August sighs, and swipes the floating message aside with a quick wave. Then she picks up a thick binder filled with paper and exits her office. She walks through an open hallway, with a view of the guilds common area over a wooden guardrail on her right. Down below, it is a chaotic scene of proud, strong adventurers chatting, organizing groups, and obtaining quests.

Upstairs is where its neat, and everyone wears nice clothing as they organize this chaos.

”And ultimately, we profit more than anyone. ” August thinks smugly.

She sighs tiredly.

”But its also a lot of mind games, and being too nice to arrogant people who don really deserve the levels of respect I give them. Its exhausting. ” she thinks bittersweetly.

She arrives at a set of dark red double doors flanked by two guards in black plate mail, wielding blazing swords that are currently sheathed in bright orange steel sheathes. They
e that color because of the blades heat.

e an intimidating sight to August even now as an adult.

”Admittedly, its because Im afraid of bumping into them by accident and burning myself on the sheath again like I did as a kid. ” she thinks nervously.

August smiles lightly and holds up the binder. The guards nod, and open the door for August. She walks forward with false confidence, and enters what she considers her main battlefield within the guild.

Her mothers office. A room with gold painted walls, black marble tiled floor, and red curtains covering the windows. The room is massive, and filled with lots of space. On the walls are large shelves filled with trophies from her adventures. And souvenirs from those good times. The head of a dragon. The miniature replica of a town they once sieged. And of course, a portrait from their wedding day. They look so happy and young.

But today Julia is old, haggard, and almost too skinny. Her skin is dark brown and wrinkled with age. Her eyes are a dull gold, and her left eyes pupil is clouded over, unable to be seen out of. She wears proud golden armor layered with powerful runes, and her trusted revolver by her side.

To some, this may appear to be a show of strength and readiness. But to her daughter who knows her well, she sees the truth. Its worn out of paranoia and fear.

”Good morning mom. How are you today? ” August says warmly.

She smiles as she approaches, not faltering as Julia only returns her affection with a small smile.

Julia stands behind her black desk, a thin cigar in her hand. She takes a long drag, and exhales coolly.

”Im fine. Begin your report. ” she says firmly.

”Can you put out your cigar? You know I hate being around that smoke. ” August asks nervously.

”Ill quit smoking here when you quit vaping in your office. ” Julia says with an angry edge.

August sighs tiredly and shakes her head.

”So, I will go ahead and say that I haven met standards set in the previous quarter. More injuries, and an important death. Rest in peace, William Squigwald. ” August says hesitantly.

Julia glares at August for a brief moment, then looks away and walks to the window.

”William was worth a lot of money. He was a great friend of many Platinum and Star rank adventurers. And what killed him? ” Julia asks annoyedly.

August stays silent for a moment, embarrassed. Julia turns to August, and she breaks immediately as a glare is shot.

”He died from a fireball from a Gold Rank mage. I had no way of knowing this would occur- ” August explains nervously.

”Silence! Have the mage charged with manslaughter, and fired. ” Julia orders firmly.

August tilts her head to the side and her mouth hangs open, confused.

”We can have him charged, accidents like this are legal. Wed be opposing the Wizards Union if we tried changing that. ” August says nervously.

”Fucking ridiculous. ” Julia mutters angrily.

Suddenly everyone in the entire world is forced to experience a vision in their minds. It was a vision that was difficult for many mortals to comprehend, as before them were the physical incarnations of concepts barely understood by man.

Lynceil, the Goddess of Luck. Half the world saw her as a beautiful woman, in a glittering gold dress wearing beautiful makeup, and seemed like the physical incarnation of wealth. Her skin may as well be the color of gold, and her eyes green as money. Her hair black as oil, and she herself is more valuable than all these baubles.

And the other half saw her as an omen. An old crone in black robes covered in bloodstains and evil runes, holding a steel cane with a blade on the bottom.

Hades, Lord of the Afterlife. He is known to be an intimidating figure who has no pity for the living or the damned. He allows the scale of sin to judge their hearts. He is said to stand ten feet tall, with skin pale as snow. One eye is golden, and the other black. To some he is beautiful, to others fearsome. To some he wears a suit, to others he wears green and black armor meant for war, wielding a powerful glaive with an army of undead behind him.

And Lucifer, God of Change. An angelic being with beauty unlike any other. He appears as a young man with shining blonde hair, black eyes with red irises, and a bewitching smile resting on a face that becomes unrecognizable every few seconds, as it is constantly shifting. He wears what appears to be white robes, but if you focused on them, you would see the robes are composed of all colors, constantly swirling over one another. His skin, which seemed white before, appears to have the same effect as well.

”Mortals, we have reached an agreement for a Grand Necessity. The sake of survival. You have milked and abused your planet to the point we must intervene, and forcibly restrain you. ” Lucifer explains elegantly. ”You are also being forced to work towards your survival. If you all cooperate, nothing that bad will really happen. Your quality of life may lower a bit, but it will still be much better than the medieval days. You could still arguably live the lives of royalty. You just have to be willing to do whats right, and work together with each other, and with us. ” he explains kindly.

”But sadly, it is doubtful we can expect this from even half of you. ” Hades says bitterly. ”As such, it is worth establishing that if you refuse our quests, you will be punished. On a scale of one to ten. A punishment of one is merely losing some money. A five is having some of your life force and strength sapped. And a ten is losing your life. ” he explains firmly.

And Lynceil said two things at once. For the lucky half, with kindness and great energy, she say ”So please be good and do whats right for the world! We all need to live on it after all. And theres even rewards from our quests as well! ”

For the unlucky half, she viciously hissed ”All of you who hear this, I expect you to die from your own stupidity. We will take what we want from you with our punishments, and put you in the dirt so you may give some nutrients back to the earth. ”

And then, the vision ends, and the world is stunned. Most do not know how to react to these Gods and their announcement. They stand silently, contemplating fearful possibilities for their new lives. Will cars be banned? Will my home stay warm? Can I still have children? Will they ban weed again? And so many more questions that will be answered only with time,

… … … And that time is now as humanity suddenly has their magic systems hijacked by the Gods of Grand Necessity. These systems humanity relies on as it turned what was a wild, unknowable element of life into something predictable and well controlled.

These systems are injected with a single thing for now. A new, mandatory quest board. And there are mandatory quests on these boards. Quests with deadlines. For most, they
e honestly not too difficult. The quests seem to keep in mind who the person receiving them are. For example, a young man is asked to sign up as a volunteer for the local church of Lucifer.

For a few though, like August and Julia, they were given something different on top of these regular quests. A grand quest, with a very long deadline.

August finds she has only one Grand Quest. It is: Convince your parents to stop supporting companies that destroy the planet, and abuse the people.

”This is impossible. ” she thinks fearfully.

Meanwhile, Julia has opened her Quest Board to find a quite a few Grand Quests. Shes shocked and offended at the sight of-

”So many damn orders from these arrogant Gods. What dare they order me to do? I don even follow them. ” Julia says angrily.

She opens the top one, and a golden message box appears. It reads the following in beautiful silver cursive.

Youve had great fortune for a long time. Its time to share your wealth with the masses. Donate at least one million dollars to the homeless.

”What the **? ” Julia mutters angrily.

She slams a fist against the wall, and opens another quest. This time a black message appears. It reads the following in bold white letters:

Your Guild has been responsible for the deaths of many by supporting companies such as Poseidons Waters and Vulcan. It is time to cut your ties with these companies and more.

The full list of companies is below.

Julia doesn bother reading the list. She swipes the message aside and screams loudly, expressing anger and fear. It makes August jump slightly, but otherwise shes used to her mother being like this.

”They **ing want complete nonsense. Abandoning these companies would ruin them. And some of them would come for us if we did that, Im sure. Fuck these Gods, Ill destroy their churches. ” Julia rants angrily.

Augusts hand moves to facepalm, but she stops herself. Maybe if it was anyone else, this wouldve avoided an offense, but her mother doesn even need the hand to reach her face to know what her daughter thinks.

”Oh, you think Im being **ing stupid huh? I bet your quest is something easy then. Show me your quest. ” Julia says angrily.

August freezes, hesitant because-

”Shell just yell at me more if she finds out. ” she thinks annoyedly.

August pulls up her Quest Board, and opens up the only other quest she has. A black message box opens. It reads the following in bold white letters:

Help the local graveyard with their undead problem. For Free.

August sighs when she sees For Free. Then she pushes the message box towards her mother. It floats across the room, and Julia catches it with one hand. She reads it quickly, and laughs angrily.

”Yup, easy as hell. I envy you. ” Julia says bitterly.

August sighs, and tries to speak but-

”Don **ing breathe hard at me, and just go! Nothing you say will make this better. I need to think, and speak with your father. ” Julia says angrily.

August glares, frustrated with her mother, and leaves the office. She returns to her own office with a blank look on her face. But inside, her emotions are a turmoil. Her mothers anger upsets her as per usual, but-

”This Grand Necessity changes everything. ” she thinks miserably.

She reaches her office, and gives away that shes upset by slamming her door shut. She closes the blinds to her office, and reaches into her black desk. She pulls out a small rectangular vape pen. But it has a secret.

”I need to get high and relax. ” August thinks nervously.

Its marijuana. A slight escape from her stressful life. She takes a long hit, and exhales with relief.

She goes over to a unique television. Its a flat screen with a little blue crystal sticking out the center. This crystal is what connects it to the massive Entertainment space within the world wide communication network.

She turns it on with a remote, and is met with a blank, blue screen.

”Show me news about the local cemetery. ” August says flatly.

A video appears. Its shoddy, as always with videos from the followers of Hades who share the news about the cemeteries they
e working at. All their good cameras get stolen by graverobbers when they take the time to steal stuff outside of the graves.

Theres a tanned young man with a black pompadour haircut, green eyes, and a nice smile in a black suit with a light green dress shirt, black and green striped tie, and black dress shoes with white soles. The suit looks a bit big on him, and August assumes this means he bought it second hand.

”Hello beautiful, living people I never see cause I live here. In the cemetery. Its ya boy, Lucius Dehaviell. Everyones favorite corpsewalker. ” Lucius says quickly and sarcastically. ”Ugh. ” He deadpans.

”In todays video, we announce that- ” he says calmly. ”The dead are rising! ” he says in a dramatic, opera fashion. ”And walking off. Somewhere east. Weve been having to chase after them, and walk them back here. So if you see any corpses wandering around, take them here so we can re-bury them. We have a reward of two hundred fifty dollars, after we verify they belong here. ” he says calmly. ”In other news- ”

Augusts focus wanes from the video at this point, as she recalls what she knows about the followers of Hades.

e **ing weirdo druggies. I bet whatever is happening is really obvious and they
e too high to realize that- ” August rants bitterly in her thoughts.

She stops mid-thought and glares at her joint. She pushes it against her shoes soles to put it out, an attempt to push away sudden disgust with herself.

The followers of Hades are indeed a strange bunch. They do not truly have places of worship. Instead, they at most have small prayer circles to Hades before they dedicate themselves to dealing with the dead. This is due to how busy they are unfortunately, as the murder rate is really high. 6.9 specifically.

During the day, most of them are solemn, respectful people that help people mourn the dead. And while they are all truly good, kind people, this solemness for some is a facade. In reality, some embrace the idea of death a bit too much, and ”Live every day like its our last! ”

So at best, these people are party animals, and at the second worst, they are daredevils who will inevitably get themselves killed way too soon.

However, there are the worst of these followers. The Necromancers. Those given this label are the ones who force the dead to rise once more, and do their bidding. Most live in some form of denial as the followers of Hades summon the undead to aid them in battle.

The key difference is that Necromancers force the undead to return. All other followers of Hades dedicate ceremonies, bargain, and connect emotionally with a desired follower in order to gain them as an undead ally.

August sighs, and decides its best to ready herself for her quest. She walks to a wall on her left, which is nearly covered with various pieces of equipment and armor.

She grabs a steel kite shield painted dark red, with a black wolf with its fangs bared painted on as well. Its enchanted with two spells. Mirror Force, which allows her to deflect spells. And Fortress, which increases its defensive capabilities and makes it easier to block. She will wear it on her back outside of combat.

On her hips is a black leather holster each, though they
e both shaped differently. The one on her left is long and thin. It holds her wand, a tool shes cared for since she was a child and first began learning magic. Its a light red rod with a small, golden crystal ball on the end. August has never learned what kind of crystal it is though.

And on her right is a black revolver with a red wood handle. And she wears a bandolier under her tunic, around her waist, that holds a few dozen common enchanted bullets. These bullets are all enchanted with a powerful Piercing spell to make them able to penetrate tough materials. And along the front of her waist, there are unique bullets painted jet black to hide their enchantments.

August looks in the mirror at herself, and nods. Shes sure shes ready, and heads out.

She does her best to move quickly out of her guild without drawing attention. She doesn manage it at all. Some adventurers glare. But most come up to her and ask whats going to happen.

”Ive got a quest that says I must leave, but Im not sure about it. Do you know what would be an incentive for staying? ” a confident adventurer asks.

”No, not really. Im not in charge of the treasury. ” August says quickly.

She sidesteps him, only to be met with another.

”I need to see your father! I am a platinum adventurer and he must explain what is to be done about this! Ive been given a quest to **ing help clear a cave of goblins! Thats way below my pay grade! ” a middle aged dwarf angrily yells.

”Well, sir. Im not his secretary. As a platinum adventurer, you know where his office is. ” August says curtly.

She moves around him, only to be met with another adventurer. A tall barbarian orc woman. August feels the urge to run from these people, and immediately gives in. She does a backflip over the railing behind her, and falls down to the first floor below. Then she runs out the guild hall, leaving behind a very confused orc and other adventurers.

”You guys know where the bathroom is? ” the orc woman asks nervously.

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