(This week’s audio recording: “A Big Disovery”, is the first sneak peak into the primal world of Naya, where civilization is confined by small cities protected from wild beasts by large walls.)
Writing Prompt: In a world where everything from clothes to tools to mundane objects has RPG-like stats and rarities, you become the first person to acquire a legendary item. Before you read this, it’s important that I point out that this is the first time I’m putting a content warning on anything I’ve written. This has more crass language and not for younger readers. This will never be the norm, I just want to make sure I consistently try new things.
“What do you mean I’m gorgeous?” I asked. I looked down at myself. I didn’t feel any different, at least.
“I mean front cover of GQ gorgeous.” Alex scanned me up and down, still awestruck. After a moment, she grimaced slightly. “If you had a wardrobe change, that is.”
Without replying, I left the kitchen and went down the hall, walking into the bathroom and flicking the light on.
The man that stood opposite me in the mirror bore only a shadow of a resemblance to the Danny I knew. I still had the same features, larger build, unruly black hair, and a field of stubble on my cheeks, but it was somehow better. I had gone from out of shape to looking fit. My hair wasn’t messy, it was charming. My stubble wasn’t disheveled, it was sexy. My simple t-shirt and jeans no longer looked lazy, but inviting. I looked exactly the same and yet completely different.
“Some ring you found there,” Alex continued, looking into the mirror from the hallway behind me. “That thing isn’t just something of extraordinary quality. It’s flat-out magic. Girls would kill to sleep with that body.”
“Is that a come-on?” I smirked.
She scoffed at that. “Hardly. Hot guy or no, you’re still an asshole.” It was a disappointing but unsurprising answer.
“Here, you put it on,” I said, taking the ring off and holding my hand up. Taking it off felt a little draining, as if I had lost a piece of myself I had never known was missing.
Alex frowned, staring at my outstretched hand. Hesitantly, she took it and stepped into the bathroom. She didn’t put it on, but kept turning it over in her hand, as if looking for something.
“What are you waiting for?” I had thought she would jump at the chance to be drop dead gorgeous. She already was pretty attractive, but not supermodel stunning.
She took a deep breath and slipped the ring onto her finger.
I felt my eyes widened as her body shifted, transforming subtly into a more beautiful version of herself. Her stomach grew less prominent, her shoulders held more confidence, her chest rounded out, and her jaw angled slightly differently. Her wardrobe of a simple blouse and leggings seemed less like she threw them on before getting ready for work and more like they were tailored to perfectly match her form. Or be torn off entirely. I couldn’t quite tell.
“Woah,” I breathed. She looked like the same Alex I knew, except this was an Alex that had won the genetic lottery. Her body was still the same, but now she looked like a more ‘finished product’, in the same way I had.
“This is incredible,” she said. She was still staring into the mirror.
“Oh, keep your pants on.” She turned to face me. “Danny.”
“You’re staring at my boobs even more than usual,” she chided. “And you’re not even trying to be discreet about it.”
Honestly I was so mesmerized I hadn’t even noticed. I snapped out of it. “Can you blame me?”
“I guess not,” she grinned, self-satisfied. She adjusted herself as she twisted around, fixing her shirt and looking back into the mirror. “It’s amazing. I don’t really feel any different but I bet if I walked into work like this I would get a promotion on the spot.”
She took the ring off, and as she did, the glow that had all but enveloped her seemed to fade, and just as her body started to resemble her old self, she put it back on.
“Alex?” I asked, frowning.
“I want to wear it a little longer,” she stated.
I wanted to protest, but I couldn’t. My base desire to look at her like this won over my apprehension at letting her keep the ring. I nodded dumbly.
I noticed a very faint blue shimmer as she started to walk out, and thought occurred to me. “Wait,” I said, grabbing her arm. She stopped, confused. I held my Appraiser bracelet to her chest, scanning her shirt.
“What the hell are you doing?” Alex asked.
“Hold still!” I demanded. When I finished scanning the blouse, my bracelet read ‘Rare. Elegant: +20% Form-fitting. Cozy: +15% Comfort.‘ Her shirt, which was presumably a common piece of clothing, was now considered ‘Rare’.
I showed her the readings, and she read it over twice in obvious disbelief. “So this ring doesn’t just make you stunning, it increases the quality of items you’re wearing?”
“Take it off,” I said.
“Excuse me?” she challenged, holding an arm up defensively.
“I meant the ring,” I amended. “Just for a minute.”
She relaxed and took the ring off again. Her entire body seemed to deflate slightly as her radiance became less assertive.
I scanned her blouse again. ‘Common.‘
“It’s back to normal quality,” I confirmed.
Alex left the bathroom. I followed behind her. “What are you doing?” I asked.
“I want to see if this works on everything,” she said.
Returning to the counter where I had opened the package, she picked up the ‘Uncommon’ knife I had left on the counter. She slipped the ring down the handle. It was too loose to fit, so she held it level. “Scan the knife now,” she directed.
I did. ‘Epic. Very Sharp: +80% Ease of Cutting. Permanence: -100% Dull Rate. Pristine: Stays Clean 100% longer.‘
I had never seen an item with a higher quality than ‘Rare’ before. Well, before today. I had no idea the stats on an item could get that high.
“This knife is the same quality as the Crown Jewels,” I murmured.
“I don’t give a shit about the knife,” she laughed, putting it down and holding the ring up triumphantly. “This is the most valuable thing on the planet!”
“It seems to increase an item’s quality by two tiers,” I theorized. “‘Common’ goes to ‘Rare’, ‘Uncommon’ goes to ‘Epic’. What happens when it enhances a ‘Rare’ item? The only thing above ‘Epic’ is ‘Legendary’.”
“Let’s find out,” she said, grabbing her prized ‘Rare’ hairbrush. She fit the ring onto the handle. It was too thick to fit properly, so she had to settle for holding the brush upside down so it would stay on. She leaned over me so she could read the bracelet as I scanned it.
I used my Appraiser Bracelet one more time. ‘Epic+. Efficient: -90% Brushing Time. Saturation: Improves Health by 70%. Luscious: Makes hair 80% more luxurious and beautiful for one hour after five minutes of brushing (This effect stacks).‘
Her eyes twinkled with delight. “It’s decided, then!” She walked over to the sink.
“What’s decided, exactly?” I had a bad feeling about this.
“You don’t have to pay rent anymore.”
“And why is that?”
“Because you’re so generous you’re giving this ring to me!” She held it up between us, still holding it close at the same time.
“Uh, no I’m not. I could probably buy my own city with that thing, I’m sure as hell not giving it to you.”
“No, you are. It’s either that or it’s going down the garbage disposal.”
I felt a spike of adrenaline as she said that. “You wouldn’t dare.”
“Sure I would. I could do amazing things with this. You’re just going to do it to get laid more than once a month. It’s no loss of value to me in either circumstance.”
“Or I could call the police,” I offered.
“And tell them your ‘Legendary’ ring was stolen? Who would believe that?” Fair point.
She took the ring and slipped it onto her finger again. As her body returned to a state of perfection, she started to unbutton her blouse.
She stepped closer to me and parted her shirt enough to expose some cleavage. Wrapping her arms around me, she leaned in and whispered, “Plus, if you’re lucky, you might still get laid more than once a month anyway.”