ibicus was sitting at Frodo’s. Reading through the crumpled letter over and over again, tracing each word with his index finger. No matter how many times he read it, the number did not change: 400 million gold.
He had already been to Naji to check his account balance which had been a revelation. He had been forced to come to the realisation that up till now, he had spent ninety five percent of his hunting profit in this pub. Even if he had not wasted the other five percent, he still would not have had anywhere near enough money to pay the ransom.
He had frantically searched through his depot boxes, even right down to the last brown backpack that still smelled of Rookgaard, to find every last gold coin hidden in there. When he tried to sell some of his stuff, he found that the market had already been flooded by cheap products. He looked up the expensive items and realised that most of the selling offers had been put in by people somehow connected to Beefo.
Cursing under his breath, he realised he would not be able to hunt in the most profitable hunting grounds. He did not have time to deal with Beefo and his gang members, who were obviously sitting in those spawns. Had he had the time, he would have investigated why those cowards were trying to make so much gold.
The situation was hopeless. He had to say good-bye to his idea of selling items on the market. At those prices he would never make even a fraction of the ransom.
His acquaintances and so-called friends who were hanging out in the depot were also not very forthcoming. But, well, who could blame them considering these market prices? In other circumstances he would also have bought up all the items his money could buy in order to sell them later – at those prices there was a killing to be made.
What irked him most, however, was the fact that he could not reach any of his party members. Tabea, Emilio and Fridolin seemed to have fallen off the face of Tibia.
“Tibicus, you are a man of action” he tried to motivate himself and began to check his quest log to see if there were any tasks that would provide him with a little income.
He soon realized that he had little to no experience in solo hunting. Ever since he could remember, he had been a member of a hunting party and as a team they had grown with the challenges. Now he was on his own and had to find his own way around.
Things had changed a lot since he was able to equip his gear with imbuements. It would make it so much easier if he only had enough creature products to set up for a long hunting session. He checked his imbuements. He barely had five hours left. "Okay, this hunt has to be extremely effective. I can't afford to waste resources on fighting other Tibians. I can only hope that in the Hive there won’t be too much going on and those mutant insects will have a few rare items waiting for me."
Tibicus did not want to go there. He had to. He did not want to fill his backpack with mana and health potions. He did not want to stand knee-deep in ichor while oversized grasshoppers and wasps tried to pierce through his armour. The last time a Waspoid stung him in his thigh, he had been knocked-out from the poison for almost 10 days and had not been able to pull any armour over the swollen area for over a month.
When he had finally finished packing and headed for the ship, he looked through the open shutters of the houses in Thais. In one room, he spotted a terrarium with a small spider that happily emerged from under its stone. "Oh, if only you were bigger and stronger. Those creatures would be a great feast for you" he thought. Tibicus continued to walk towards the harbour when, all of a sudden, he had a brainwave.
"Wait a minute," he thought. “Ever since we smuggled Yielothaxes into the dormitories of Beefo and his gang, they avoid those things at all costs. If I remember correctly, Quentin diagnosed them with post-traumatic arachnophobia after our little prank." Tibicus smirked. “I bet that's where I can hunt in peace and quiet and who knows, I might even be able to kill enough of those nasty creatures to fight the Raging Mage! Oh, I’m going to beat the living daylights out of him! By the time I’m finished with him, he’ll beg me to take his elemental spike.”
His mood immediately brightened up. In the unlikely case of him finding an elemental spike at least some of his money worries would be dealt with. He knew it was highly unlikely to loot this rare item, but in his desperate situation it was the best he could hope for. Euphorically, he set off for Zao.
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