A vicious collision rocked the terrain, throwing Noka off balance and onto his back. His eyes flew to the source of the sound, over thirty feet in the air above, breaking through the icy wall.

It was him. Like an animal wreathed in flames, breathing embers of fury, it appeared as though he was at home within the pyre. There was a smile, one that betrayed feelings of joy and pleasure, with eyes filled with wrath resting above the unnervingly bright grin. He did not feel the fire burning against his back; no degree of hellfire could extinguish the living rage contained within that mortal shell. It was a beast, a monster, nothing human about its corrupt humanoid features. Arms extended out to clutch at what came within reach, legs retracted up like a gargoyle about to take flight; the image would burn itself into anyone's memory. Something shined in its hand, an extension of the arm to strike cold terror into one's soul. Worse than any demon or fiend, it was him. The charred bodies of paladins followed it through the gaping wound in the wall, like a psychopomp guiding damned souls through hell's gate. The bodies erupted forth swimming in flames as their ragdoll bodies flailed in the air. As it drew closer, the sight became clear that there was something-no, someone clenched by the neck within its left hand.

A Few Days Ago...


The clerk yelled out from behind his desk, the only person left in the waiting area was a solitary boy, average height with medium-length blue hair. Looking around to make sure no one was left, he stood up and walked over to the clerk.

"Got any skills?" The clerk didn't bother looking up from his desk.

"I'm sorry?"



"Things that would make guilds interested in recruiting you." The clerk looked up with a half bored, half annoyed look on his face.

"I don't think I have any…"

The clerk sighed, and pushed away from his desk, sliding backwards on his chair to reach a filing cabinet located behind him.

"Well, since you're late," The clerk didn't talk over his shoulder, instead opting to speak louder "There's really only one left with open spots." He ran his fingers over the files, pulled out a manila folder, and plopped it on the desk.

"That's great! I'll join right away!"

"Hold on, there's a reason why—"

"Will a guild member come down to give me a lift?"


"But the other people—"

"—Got here early. They got good guilds. You're getting this guild."


The clerk opened the folder and stared at the sole inhabitant of it. He looked up.

"Congratulations. You win a napkin."

"Instead of a guild member picking me up, I get a napkin?"

"Instead of a guild member picking you up, you get a napkin." The clerk repeated condescendingly.

"…Is the napkin special?"

"Very. See, on this side, it's an ordinary napkin. But! On this side, there's a map for you that leads to your new Guild HQ."

"So just follow the napkin-map?"


"Great! I'll make it in no time!"

Noka grabbed the napkin out of the clerk's hands and ran back to his seat to get his bags. Rushing out of the Guild Reference Office building, he followed the directions of the map to the guild Headquarters. The clerk tossed the folder over his shoulder into a trash bin, the word "Dires" written on the front of the folder.

"I'm quitting this job. First chance I get. God as my witness."