"I-I'm more than just a desktop pet!" Ruby interjects.
"Actually, you might find much popularity if you went that route," Cautaa says, eager to keep her distracted from the training courses. "There was quite the popular outbreak of portable digital pets in Ironcastle…"
"Yeah, I know," Ruby says.
"You knew of Ironcastle's trends…?" Cautaa asks.
"No, but we had something pretty similar here in Agatecastle," Ruby says. "This was before my time, but about 20-odd years ago, they were all the rage with young souls.">>757546
Ruby shrugs. "For most of this, I'm just borrowing the facility's processing power. I'm only so powerful as the hardware that hosts me at any given time, so when I manage to find my way into beefy enough systems, I like to splurge. Plus, it's not like there are many people around who would complain about me using up all the RAM right now…">>757542
"Oh yeah, a couple of them came by a few weeks ago… I just lured them toward the arcade cabinets with some pretty lights. They played for a bit then wandered off.">>757544>For Deadweight and for anyone else who crosses the loading zone into the Stealth Training Course
As you cross the boundary, you can see a tiny Ruby appear in the corner of your HUD, despite her earlier protestations about not being a desktop pet. "That's kinda up to you. All you have to do is get to the end of the course one way or the other. But I doubt you'll beat my time," she adds with pride.
On the other side of the boundary is a small area that resembles the entrance to a public garden. There is a gazebo and some benches and tables here. A river runs before it, and a bridge connects to the other side, and the river serves as the boundary into the training course proper. On the other side of the river there is a very dark forest; the skybox is full of PNG trees and clouds punctuated by occasional sunlight, and the actual polygonal tree models that constitute the forest are closely clumped together.
There are three paths from the bridge: One well-worn trail to the north, a blocked-off trail to the northeast, and an overgrown, disused trail, full of fallen trees, to the west.