Lesson in Observation

Connor fumed to himself while he rubbed his nose. The stranger’s heavy footsteps sounded further and further away with each second.

“AI needs work?” he mumbled. The fury in his gut grew to a fever pitch. Connor was on his way home after a long, trying day at work. None of his plans for the day worked out and it seemed like every single one of his coworkers decided to have a bad day. Despite trying to keep his mood up; they all dragged him down. He was more or less minding his own business when he came across someone he thought might be a street performer. Instead, the stranger walked over and jabbed Connor in the face. He made an offhand comment to himself then walked away. 

“HEY!” Connor yelled at the stranger. The man continued walking. Connor gritted his teeth, threw down his briefcase and ran to catch the man. “I’m talking to you!” Connor growled when he walked in front of the man to block his path. “What’s your problem, pal?” he asked.

The stranger was almost a head taller than Connor and twice as wide. He looked down at Connor with a mischievous grin.

“Don’t have one,” he replied, then turned to walk around Connor. He sidestepped to block the man again.

“I don’t know where you were raised, but around here we apologize when we wrong others,” Connor said.

“You’re a naggy little NPC,” the stranger said. “Got a quest for me?”

“Yeah, apologize. Your reward is I won’t kill you.” The stranger burst into laughter.

“Quest declined,” he said and moved to take another step around the shorter, scrawnier man. Connor stopped him with a hand against his chest. “You don’t want to mess with me,” the burly stranger said with an eager tone in his voice; despite what he said he seemed to want trouble. After a moment of silence, his eyes widened and a weak almost inaudible crack came from his throat. He took a step back.The moment he did he inhaled with a heaving gasp.

“What the he-,” he was interrupted. Connor stepped forward again and pressed his hand against the man’s chest. He stepped back again, but this time Connor pushed him. Hard.

The stranger stumbled backward trying to stay on his feet until he hit the wall of a building. Not one of the passing pedestrians seemed interested in the altercation. Connor moved forward. He followed the stranger and pressed against his chest once he hit the wall. The stranger gasped again trying to fill his lungs.

“Look at me,” Connor said. The man looked down into Connor’s eyes while opening and closing his mouth; he resembled a suffocating fish. “Good, now look at them,” he waved his free hand at the pedestrians. “Tell me when you see a difference,” he said. The stranger’s head swiveled between Connor and the passers-by several times. After making a few comparisons the stranger’s eyes widened. He tried to speak but there was no air in his lungs.

“What was that?” Connor asked; he eased his pressure on the man’s chest letting him take in a breath.

“I’m sorry,” he wheezed out the little bit of air he took in. Connor released him and backed away; the stranger was quick to apologize again when he took in more air. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know,” he said with a sincere tone. He rubbed at his chest. “What was that?” he asked. Connor seemed satisfied the man learned his lesson. Now that his fiery mood was settling down, Connor thought the stranger might make a good friend.

“Breathless Palm,” Connor grinned. “It’s a Monk skill. Now that you can tell players apart from NPCs, I’ll tell you how to identify their classes.”

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