Because Sion had never entered the main city of the demon race, we couldn’t use the main city’s teleport function, and decided to rent some mounts at a nearby NPC mount farm. Neither of us had our own summonable mounts yet, nor were we level 100 in order to obtain the ability to fly in-game from the flying quest, so this was the fastest way to reach our destination.
Followed by Tian, even though I had already nearly forgotten about his existence, who merely listened to our conversations in silence, we went outside of Crea City. The farm was located a few hundred meters further ahead and could already be seen.
I suddenly received a short private message from Emeralda, who wanted to be added to our party of two, pardon, our three-man party, if I include the easily forgettable Tian. At first I thought it was just a request to use the auto-loot system, but I was proven wrong when he actually joined our group.
“Yo, you two! I just finished helping some guild members and thought that I, as the vice-guild leader, should lend you a hand on obtaining the castle, our future guild stronghold! Keruna, please share the quest with me, I’ll meet you in front of the castle when you start the quest. Just let me know when you two will arrive there.”
Without a second thought, I shared the quest information with Emeralda and was thrilled that a healer joined us on this quest. This will make everything much easier. Now I could let Sion act as the tank, Emeralda the healer, and I would be able to fully focus on being in charge of dealing damage, while Tian tags along with whatever he is good at. I probably have to ask him later on what class he is, provided I don’t forget that he exists, again.
“Sure, though we have to use mounts to get there, it probably will take around an hour to arrive at the demon lord’s castle.“
“Okay, no problem. Then I’ll run some errands in Crea City and teleport to the demon race’s main city later. It’s the first time we’ll meet in-game Sion, I’m really looking forward to seeing you in action, hope we get along well.“
Sion instantly looked over to me and gave me another death glare to remind me about my wrong-doings, but despite that, he replied politely to Emeralda.
“Yeah, I’m looking forward to it too. It’s the first time I’ve see someone from the plant race in-game as well.“
“Oh is that so? Not too many players play them with all the amazing races available, we’re a bit underrated you could say. Or more like, people prefer choosing races with good looks.“
Like my stupid superiors who even tell their employees to either create good–looking characters or interesting ones just so they can ogle at the avatars… But their own avatars aren’t even near a humanoid appearance…ah..why am I even thinking about them now?!
“Yeah, there are so many races to choose from, so races such as the plants are less popular. So why did you choose a cactus?”
“My hobby is gardening, and I really like cacti, I even have a small collection, and when I saw that a plant race existed, I opened their race creation window to see how my avatar could look like. When I spotted the cactus subbreed I was instantly drawn to their funny appearance. The plant avatar’s equipment looked specially intriguing. Well, you guys better hurry up, or else I’ll be done with my shopping before you even reach the mount farm. See you guys later!”
With that, the two ended their little chat, and I returned from going through bad memories of my superiors. We soon arrived at the mount farm located on the outskirts of Crea city, called “John’s little farm”. Contrary to its name, the farm was a large open area with many barns. In these barns, there were all kinds of mount species waiting to be chosen from.
Besides renting, it was also possible to purchase them. However, because the prices were ridiculously high, most people couldn’t afford them at the early stages of the game, and would either do quests to earn their own mount, or simply rent them for a while. There were even flying mounts, like dragons, griffins, and birds, but they couldn’t be rented without first passing the flying quest at level 100.
While going over to a barn with fast land mounts we passed an area dedicated towards at least 10 different dragon mounts. It was hard for me to not stop in my tracks and constantly throw covetous glances at these majestic creatures. I desired to finally be able to fly, and even more so to ride on the faster flying mounts. This was by far the easiest and most comfortable way to venture further into the lands of Mirage of Eternity. Thinking about this made me curse my despicable superiors even more because these cheaters were very well capable of flying with their avatars, which were kind of like mounts in themselves.
Fienja as a dragon soaring the skies…
Is there anything better than being able to turn into a dragon and fly around this way?!
And that Kaje…
Despite being a deer, she could just “run” through the skies and float around the world like that.
If that isn’t cheating, then I don’t know what is!
Eyeing the dragons enviously from the corners of my eyes – especially the black one with red-glowing markings over its body – we advanced bravely forward and finally reached the barn with the fastest mount species.
In front of the barn sat an NPC on a chair, already looking at us with greedy eyes as new victims. With that look I really felt like a piggy bank who was about to be smashed. These days, even the NPCs are very realistic, but they sure could have toned it down a bit. His intentions were too obvious and I, as the customer, feel awful renting anything from that guy. However it couldn’t be helped, as there’s no other way to get to the demon lord’s castle as quickly, my future in-game home. I reluctantly came closer to that greedy NPC and as soon as I was only a few meters apart from him, he suddenly stood up, no, jumped up, preparing to pounce on his prey, the piggybank. Rubbing his hands like the perfect, evil salesman smelling money, he came closer and greeted us.
“Welcome, dear customers! It sure is a nice day for a long journey. Do you intend to buy one of our best mounts? I can guarantee that they are the fastest in Crea City.”
In other words, he skipped the possibility of renting and went right to selling to earn the greatest amount of money? What a truly despicable NPC! I purposely skipped the greeting and went right to business. Who would want to stay near that sleazebag any longer than necessary?
“We would like to rent two mounts…”
And sure enough, after these devastating words were spoken, the huge, friendly smile cramped for a brief second, before the NPC lessened his efforts and gave us a professional “basic salesmen smile” which wasn’t nearly as bright as the previous one. I slowly began to think that this guy was more detestable than my superiors. They at least made sure other people didn’t notice their bad moods immediately and pay them back when they aren’t prepared for it!
Now that I skipped any friendly talk, and crushed his dreams on earning a large profit, he too went straight to business.
“Please follow me inside, I’ll will show you all the mounts currently available for rent. How far do you intend to travel?”
I secretly gave Sion a sign to continue the negotiations because I didn’t felt like conversing with that NPC any longer. At this point I felt really tired and was fine with anything as long as we can get to the castle as fast as possible. Sion gladly took up the chance to choose our mounts and continued for me.
“We intend to ride to the demon race’s territory, if possible with the fastest mounts you have for this long distance.”
The NPC only nodded indifferently and led us deep into the giant barn until we reached a corner with some greyish wolf mounts.
“These Dire Wolves are a sturdy species with a lot of stamina, perfect for riding long distances at a decent speed without the need for taking stops and letting them rest before continuing your journey.”
God, couldn’t he speak in a more monotonous, indifferent voice!! Is there a quest available for assassins to get rid of this scumbag? I would accept it even without a reward by now! I better memorise his name…oh it’s John. The owner of this place? I feel sorry for his employees…
“I think they will do, but uhm..do you by any chance have a less ferocious looking one as well? I feel as if they would eat me up any moment…”
Ah…Sion don’t drag this out even more… And what kind of reasoning is that in the first place?! Do you want to ride a pink, shiny pony instead of a cool looking wolf?!
Even John gave Sion an irritated gaze and seem to battle with himself whether it was worth the effort to introduce another mount to him or not.
“Alternatively, we have Astral Horses which can run at the same speed but have less stamina, if your destination is less than two hours away from this farm, it should be possible to reach your goal without any rest, but if it’s further away I fear the horse needs a short break before you can continue riding it.”
Of course after hearing the word “astral” Sion’s eyes shone, and just from his face I could easily see that he wanted to see those horses. He looked over to me and seemed to beg me to go over to them. I sighed, and already feared that my prior thoughts would become reality.
In the end, I at least made sure to secure myself a Dire Wolf. The NPC put reins and a saddle onto the wolf and led it towards our next destination the Astral Horses, which weren’t too far away. It’s really surprising how spacious these barns are, but Mirage of Eternity is a fantasy world, so insanely huge barns are probably the least surprising things to encounter.
From afar, Sion had already spotted the horses, and just seeing them made his eyes grow bigger in admiration. Even I had to confess that these horses weren’t bad looking and my prior fears were baseless. There were six horses whose appearances were influenced by their respective elements of astral energy: Fire, water, wind, earth, light and darkness.
Finally we arrived in front of them and knowing Sion’s preference he would probably choose…
“The fire elemental one looks awesome and I have the highest affinity with fire astral energy. Is it available for renting? And how much would it cost if I want to purchase it?”
…the fire one. Of course it’s the dark red, bordering at black, skinned horse with the fire mane. But I can bet 100 gold coins that they are ridiculously expensive.
John also didn’t disappoint me with him switching back to his large friendly smile, at the chance of capturing the helpless piggy bank once it jumped straight towards the devil’s den.
“Oh, the gentleman sure has good eyes! This horse is our pride and the best of our Astral Horses! Its skin color is also unique. Usually they have a brighter shade of red rather than this dark red one. Just for you, dear customer, we will give you a discount and sell for the amazing price of just 1000 gold coins!”
That’s sheer robbery!! There’s no discount! Even for a fast mount, 1000 gold is expensive, usually it’s around 800-900 gold. Not to mention that Sion has at most 200 gold available. And I’m sure that he lied with the “best out of our horses” crap which he was spilling. That John is such a fraud! Maybe I should liquidate him on the spot and just steal the mounts!!
Even Sion’s face turned white, and had to part with the idea of buying the horse with a sad face.
“Uhm… I don’t have that much money yet. I have to save for some time longer until I can afford it, I guess I can only rent it for now and buy it at a later time…”
John’s smile again changed but in regards of a possible future sale it wasn’t as bad as when we met him before. This doesn’t change the fact that he wanted to rip-off my friend which made me stare daggers at that fellow’s back, while I fought a mental battle with myself against using a real dagger to stab that guy. In the end I decided against it – for now – because we had to hurry towards the castle, and I didn’t have the time to dispose of an NPCs corpse. Furthermore Sion would probably stop me or nag for days if I took such drastic measures. Although he often rushes ahead of people, he has a strong sense of justice and would have been a good knight in medieval times. Maybe another reason why he had decided to choose one of the knight classes in Mirage of Eternity.
Of course John tried to get a higher price out for renting the mounts, but after I almost drew my dagger from its sheath with a cold stare, he, unfortunately, noticed my intentions and finally succumbed under the threat of being killed. Thus he settled down with a decent price to save his own life and we “only” had to pay two gold per person for renting the mounts for a day. Needless to say he would charge another two gold for every additional day but I’m sure I can decrease price if he provokes me further, with my dagger to greet his throat.
After wasting time over needless price discussions, we finally rode towards our destination towards the west, over the large grasslands and forests of the human territory, where Crea City was located, which was conveniently placed near many other races’ territories. Presently the human and demon races have a neutral relationship, but in the long history of the world of Mirage of Eternity this wasn’t always the case. Once in the distant past these two races fought many severe battles and there are still some ruins located on these plains which are silent relics of this ancient history.
After some hundreds of years of fighting against each other, the two races signed a peace treaty due to other races attacking their lands, which they had to take care of first, thus their hostility towards each other turned into a mostly neutral relationship over time.
At this point I was considering if I should remind Sion about the fact that one of the new threats to the demon race was his own race, the Sylphs. And despite a recently signed peace treaty after a long stalemate on both sides in a long war, the hostility towards each other’s race remained.
Of course we players don’t care about this at all if we enjoy partying up and making friends, but the demon NPCs won’t act kindly towards Sion because of their race’s history.
However he should know all this, at least he should… If he doesn’t, it’s not my problem that he did not study the lore of Mirage of Eternity. In the end I decided to not remind him of the deeply rooted lore which affects all NPCs and decided to just watch the show in case he truly had forgotten and makes any mistakes while conversing with NPCs.
The only exception out of the demon NPCs, whom I once again completely forgot was still following us until now and probably wouldn’t be hostile towards him, would be Tian who was happily riding on my wolf as well. He recognized Sion as his future lord’s best friend right now, so he didn’t care about the hostilities. Being broke, as he was right now from fleeing his prior home, he couldn’t afford to rent his own mount, and I’m too selfish to pay another two gold for him so I was stuck sharing my Dire Wolf with him like this.
Another NPC who probably doesn’t care about the race of his customers was that John guy…
At least as long as there is enough money involved, and he gets his share that is. I bet if I asked for a slow mount with much less stamina and was far cheaper, he would have treated me as if I had the plague.
The scenery around us was as lively and beautiful as usual for Mirage of Eternity. My co-workers always poured a lot of love into the landscape and details. Whatever they touch turns out either awe inspiring, beautiful, breathtaking, or really frightening if the story and area were supposed to create fear in a player’s mind. One could just stand around and take in the details, impressions, and sensations which were brought about with the temperature and weather changes, as well as the night and day cycles and the four seasons. Or one could just observe the wildlife, the animals and monsters interacting with each other and their environment. It was even possible to encounter a young alpine hare playing around in the snow while a hungry wolf was stalking it, ready to strike and eat it. This was one of the aspects I always enjoyed about this game, as well as the lore which affected all NPCs and the interaction between the races towards other races and players.
Because our journey towards the demon race territory would take some time, we decided to take care of other stuff for the meantime. Luckily Mirage of Eternity allows players to browse e-mails and forums in a semi-transparent window, so we could still see the way in front of us while riding and take care of some private business at the same time. Needless to say, one still has to be careful and keep a good eye on one’s surroundings as to not ride straight into a monster mob or other players.
While Sion was browsing some news articles, I decided to check the company intern GM forum for news. As expected, there was a sticky thread about a warning to sell one’s real estate inside and around Crea City, one to announce our future event – of course with no further information about the actual plans of the natural disasters, typical of them – and one which was simply named “Food Thread“. Already knowing about the first two threads I decided to ignore these and clicked on the food thread which made me wonder why it has a sticky status and I began reading the threads posts.
#001 Fienja (Boss) – 15:00
Yo, your favourite boss here! I thought we could open a food thread in our beloved “random stuff” section where we can discuss about our canteen food, what everyone wants to be added on the food plan of our beloved canteen, and anything else related to food (sharing recipes, restaurant locations and so on).
Guess I’ll start posting something while I’m at it!
Today I had a strange food encounter… While I was eating some fried potatoes in my room as a fast food intake while preparing for our future grand event, Kaje entered the room with some strawberry-vanilla-ice cream she bought. And because it was melting quickly in this heat, I stopped eating my fried potatoes for a short while to finish off the ice cream before it fully melted. With my “good luck” of course said ice cream had to fall down right onto my fried potatoes…D:“
I felt devastated at first but as I was extremely hungry, I bravely continued onward and dared to eat the newly emerged ice-cream-fried-potato dish and found out it actually tastes quite good!O__O“
“Urgh… How the hell can she eat strawberry-vanilla-ice cream on top of fried potatoes….“
With the shock of reading about such a strange combination I spoke my thoughts out loud, which of course made Sion look up towards me and giving me a look between wondering what I’m doing and if he actually heard right.
“Did you say strawberry-ice-cream on top of fried potatoes??“
“Uhhh… Yeah, my company has an forum where we post stuff, and one of my superiors just posted a food thread saying she ate this because her ice cream fell on the fried potatoes she was eating…“
That was all what Sion could say to this while he seemed to imagine the taste of this and if he should or shouldn’t try out such a strange combination.
Be careful Sion, at the end they may even get a patent on this strange stuff…
“I wonder if that even tastes good. But your superiors seem to be strange people?“
“Yep, they are! Without a doubt!“
After the first strange post I continued reading a bit further just out of boredom and found out that the next post was from Kaje.
#002 Kaje (Boss) – 15:02
Haha, yeah that was funny to see and it indeed didn’t taste bad! °_°
Btw food!! I was thinking about ordering some sushi for us all because I suddenly have a craving for sushi and our canteen isn’t selling any today. So everyone who wants some (or other japanese dishes), please leave a message here within the next 30 minutes, then I’ll include you in my order. It will be delivered around 16:00 and you can grab it in our canteen~
#003 Maeda (Hidden GM) – 15:03
Here!! Count me in! I’m starving right now and can’t move down to the canteen yet, there’s no way I would miss out on delicious sushi, can you also order some ramen? Oh and some meat. Meat would be perfect! Any meat is fine for me right now, decide freely!!x-x
#004 Fienja (Boss) – 15:04
*raise hand* Me too! Just order the usual for me! Today we work until deep at night so I won’t say no to it!!
#005 Kaje (Boss) – 15:05
@Maeda: Got it I will order a large serving for you!
It was one of the moments in life where I asked myself if it was really a conversation between employees of the large Night Dragon Corporation with their superiors or just a chat between good friends fooling around. Others also added their orders in a really quick manner and when I saw that I still had time to join the food order chain, I remembered the in-game sushi and decided to post as well. The only thing bothering me was Maeda being the only one using his real name to post instead of his in-game one Azura…but no wonder with him genderbending in-game and confusing everyone.
#013 Keruna (Hidden GM) – 15:08
Please add me to the list too. Just a bit of sushi for me.
#014 Kaje (Boss) – 15:08
@Keruna: Added you, but are you sure that’s all you want?
#015 Fienja (Boss) – 15:09
Keruna you should eat more! Don’t starve on us!
@Kaje: Or he’s actually in a diet secretly…?xP
#016 Kaje (Boss) – 15:09
lol Not that he needs to… xD Haha.
#017 Maeda (Hidden GM) – 15:10
Then I’ll eat his share!! I’m really starving here!!QAQ Boss, please tell them to hurry with bringing the food over!
And Keruna probably gets a warm meal by his loving girlfriend, that bastard…!y.y
#018 Kaje (Boss) – 15:11
Still single, Maeda? And here you already have a female character to easily get in contact with female players…o-o“
#019 Fienja (Boss) – 15:12
Though he can’t flirt with them this way!lol I swear one of these days I’ll switch his avatar with one that looks like him while he messes around with male players just to have a good laugh…xD
Keruna, you sure you don’t want to order more??
P.s.: We know that you’re still reading the thread, no way of hiding!xD
I was kinda speechless about this conversation and wondered why they think I eat too little at first, but compared to Maeda who could raid a restaurant and eat for three grown up men it kinda made sense. But Maeda in his own way is kinda impressive… to break the superior-employee relationship in such a way. On the other hand my superiors in general give off the feeling that they couldn’t care less about their status in our company. Guess the fooling around part is also at fault here. In the end I could only heave a sigh after reading the last line by Fienja and was reminded that others can see who’s reading the thread so I didn’t have any choice aside from replying once more. Why do they have so much time to write so many messages anyway?
#023 Keruna (Hidden GM) – 15:14
No, thanks. It’s enough, I’ll be eating when I arrive at home later on.
@Maeda: You really eat like a horse!
With that, I hurriedly left that thread before the conversation would drag on any longer and stray even more from the actual food ordering to Maeda’s private life which I couldn’t care less about. I had already heard his stories of not being able to find a girlfriend often enough when we eat together in the canteen. Last time, he asked me to introduce my girlfriend’s friends to him. Luckily they were all either married or in a happy relationship.
I could at least reduce the boredom of riding for a long time like this. After browsing a bit longer through the forum, we reached the demon race territory. Sion suddenly spoke and my attention instantly was drawn away from the forum towards the Astral Knight.
“Why is the land so barren? Does all of the demon race’s territory look like this?”
The landscape had changed from the bountiful grasslands to a much harsher environment. The ground was dried up and there weren’t many plants growing on it. I didn’t even notice the change in the landscape because I was too focused on the threads I was reading. I frowned a bit and took a closer look around me, coming to the conclusion that even though the demon race are known to live in harsh environments, this land was too barren.
“It shouldn’t be this bad. Maybe we experienced a drought without me knowing about it? It has been some time since I was in my race’s homeland.”
“This Tian can explain the matter to my lord if you allow me.”
I nearly forgot that Tian was sitting behind me, a walking information book about what has happened in this territory, which borders closely to the human territory and was the land of his previous employer.
“Go ahead. It would be good to know about what happened here.”
Tian politely nodded behind me and started to explain. Sion, who rode beside us, also listened carefully.
“Actually, the demon lord imposter who killed my prior master should be at fault for this. A demon lord’s reign also influences the weather with their magical power and influence the miasma around his lands. Depending on the demon lord who reigns, he can either influence his territory in a positive way – supporting his subjects and protecting them – or in a negative way – by spreading death and terror. For example it’s possible that a demon lord can cause droughts, storms and other natural disasters or he could make the miasma so strong that nothing will grow on the lands for many centuries. Of course that traitor took great care to suppress everyone by causing our land to fall apart and by bringing us close to starvation. We couldn’t even rebel against him in that state. Which made my resolve to find my master, your highness Keruna, even stronger.”
Uhh… When was I promoted from your master to ‘your highness’? I haven’t even I finished the quest yet, you know?
“Terrible! We better hurry and get rid of that guy before there are any more casualties.”
This answer was from Sion who was eager to help Tian after he has heard Tian’s touching story, for innocent Sion… and just him….
His sense of justice seemed to have been triggered now. Although I wasn’t very happy about this story either, my thoughts were on the damage that NPC caused to the castle and the surrounding villages instead of the well being of the NPCs. I also had to think about the demons I will have to recruit to replace the ones who died and the repairing costs to fix the chaos that idiot, self-proclaimed dictator NPC probably had caused. If the whole area was in this state it will take a long time to recover and we won’t be able to raise any taxes from the demons who are under our protection either, seeing that they were near to starving to death.
To make matters worse, we soon reached a small village of our future subjects. This made the furrow in my brow even deeper because we could see the damage he caused with our own eyes now. The whole village was drained of its life and the few villagers we actually encountered were very thin, with no strength left. Barely able to walk, they didn’t even seem to take much notice of us as if they were already walking corpses. Their clothes were also torn and there were even some children sitting on the side of the street who looked over to us with half-dead eyes seemingly trying to beg us for food.
Sion couldn’t even watch this scene any longer and at least gave the demon children some bread he stored in his item bag. Even my heart had a hard time dealing with this misery. Despite them being NPCs the realism of the game and the amazing AI which the creatures and NPCs possessed made one think that they were actually visiting a medieval village near to its complete collapse. All kinds of feelings surged inside me while seeing the situation with my own eyes. Sadness, sympathy, the urge to help them and also anger with the desire to make the one responsible for this pay dearly for his deeds. Even the houses we passed were in ruins and we could see large cracks in the earth along our way, probably caused by an earthquake that bastard caused.
“Let us kill that demon slowly for this and make him feel the pain of the villagers. When his life is down to 10%, I’ll use my poison and let him die from its effects slowly while we watch him pass over to hell.”
I really couldn’t contain my anger anymore and was dead set on making that guy suffer a lot. Even John was an innocent lamb compared to that monster.
“Yes, master! I knew you would fully support our cause and bring salvation to this area and my kin! I knew you would be a splendid demon lord when I met you for the first time.”
Somehow I had the strange feeling that Tians loyalty grew with every sentence I said and it actually will reach its peak before we even slayed that bastard. I hope he won’t follow me every time I log into Mirage of Eternity without taking a break, that sure would be uncomfortable.
Sions face also showed an ironclad determination to kill that traitorous demon who betrayed and killed the original lord. After seeing this scene we hurried up even more to reach our goal, the demon lord’s castle and it didn’t take us long to finally arrive at the destination, an area which was around 500 meters away from the castle and where we intended to meet up with Emeralda.
But just when we dismounted I got a private message from the disaster defence forces president. I already guessed that the content was the next secret meeting announcement where we would discuss the countermeasures against our superiors event. A meeting I can’t skip. I briefly told Sion that I just received a very important message regarding my work and instantly opened it.
Emergency DDF meeting
Dear co-workers, friends, and overtime buddies,
after a thorough investigation in the short amount of time succeeding the grand announcement of our two honourable disasters, the supreme gods of extra work, we finally concluded all preparations and can hereby announce another secret meeting of our disaster defence force! We would like for all members of our special force task group to meet up at our usual hiding space at 17:00.
We know that this time may be inconvenient for many of you but the disasters will be taking a break around that time and take a quick walk outside the company, which will be the best opportunity to discuss our countermeasures without raising suspicion.
The president and vice-president of the DDF
(As usual we won’t write any names down in case the disasters ever find out about our meetings.)
This sure was bad timing. Just when we were so motivated to finish this quest, but from the beginning I feared the DDF meeting would take place soon, so it didn’t surprise me too much. It was still better to receive the message now and take part in the meeting than getting it while we were in the middle of our quest. I had still over half an hour left so I decided on grabbing the ordered sushi from the canteen and then hurry directly towards our meeting room and eat there. Before that, I had to inform Sion and Emeralda about my absence. The meeting would probably take around an hour, and afterwards I could finally go home. This would take only a few minutes walk, because I was lucky enough to find an apartment near our company’s building. If both would still be online for a few hours longer we could meet up then and continue our quest.
Without further delay, I informed Sion about an important meeting -of course without revealing any details- I had to join soon and he actually seemed happy over a small break in which he could cook his lunch. Both of us usually don’t eat lunch before 3 pm and it often ended up with lunch around dinner time. This always happened when we eagerly played Mirage of Eternity, especially if we receive quests such as the current one, it isn’t easy to find a good time to take a longer break so we normally take every opportunity, which showed itself to do so. Now the only one I had to inform was Emeralda who was probably already waiting for us. It probably wasn’t a problem for him to connect later on but I still felt a bit bad for him rushing towards this area and then having to wait longer for us to come back online. Just when I thought about contacting him, he spoke over the group chat.
“There you guys are! Finally I can meet Sion.”
Sion looked around but couldn’t spot Emeralda anywhere. From his message, he must be already quite near to see us. When I looked around, I spotted him standing on the dry ground without his equipment put on. No wonder that Sion was unable to spot him, without his clothes he looked from a distance too much like a normal cactus. He perfectly blended into his dried up surroundings and was standing near two rooks right beside the probably last green bush of the area. Only when he finally used one of his “arms” to wave to us did Sion realise that he was blending into his environment way too well and his eyes grew bigger.
No wonder, it was the first time for him seeing the plant race, of course he would be surprised that they aren’t more or less a humanoid race with plant features but looked like actual plants! Except for the faces and adjusted body parts to walk around, there is no difference between them and an actual plant!
Like this Sion stared blanky at Emeralda and forget to even greet him back. I on the other hand was already used to this and could remember the good old hide and seek games we once played in a desert area with dozens of cacti present. We called it the “search the healer game” in our guild. It was a really annoying situation. Despite Emeralda wearing some basic equipment back then, we were constantly searching for him. I mean we were right in front of some boss monsters and he literally disappeared in the commotion.
While we fought the boss monsters we couldn’t keep track of him avoiding the aoe attacks and he had to constantly move around. Leading to a situation where you thought he was standing just behind you and talked to him, just to find out it was not Emeralda but a genuine cactus instead. This also worked out well the other way around. Our guild member Asterdon who was tanking a boss even once tried leading it away from us, because of the major damage it had caused on some of our members, and accidentally lead the boss too close to Emeralda of whom he thought was just a normal cactus. He realised the fact too late and Emeralda had a hard time running out of the attacking range.
That day our guild learned a crucial lesson of not playing around areas which were abundant of cacti. In general never play with someone from the plant race in areas where their counterparts are growing. Like never take a tree to a forest, or else you won’t see “your” tree in the forest anymore…
Though that rule only applies if they are unequipped or their armour isn’t too visible.
Of course this time Emeralda probably just wanted to play a tiny prank on our newest guild member and put off his clothes on purpose. Something which only the plant race members are actually capable off. Who else would stand around naked without even underwear? I mean trees, cacti and other plants are originally naked, no fur, no feathers or scales…so there were no problems of a player stripping belonging to this race. They just really look like normal plants then.
After we spotted him and Sions surprised state disappeared slowly, we came closer and Emeralda started to equip himself again. Now he wore a cowboy hat, a black leather jacket and a big brown belt with some pockets attached to it. In one of his arms he was holding a staff, the only visible sign that he was a healer or mage and not some gunslinger class which forgot to equip a gun. Until this day I wondered how he could even hold a staff with an arm without a hand or fingers to grab something. It was one of the mysteries of Mirage of Eternity which only be explained by the use of magic inside a fantasy world. I really wonder who suggested the plant race in the first place but I had the feeling my superiors definitely messed around with that race as well when NDC decided to add it to the game.
“Wow! I didn’t expect the plant race to look this similar to real plants. I’m really surprised. I didn’t notice you until you waved to me.”
“Haha, yeah hiding is one of our races speciality. We are amazing snipers in the correct environment. When we once quested in a desert my guild mates had a very hard time finding me. It was quite the memorable day and since then, they forbid me to go to any desert in fear that they may never see me again.”
Emeralda has quite a fun time remembering this while I could only give a dry smile. I also nearly died because I was suddenly too far away from him and out of his healing range, while I believed he was the cactus I could barely glimpse from the sides of my eye.
“It was one of the worst days of our guild. Keradis had quite the trouble keeping out an eye for us and aside from often being out of Emeraldas healing range and coming close to death there was an even worse problem…”
“Yeah, while they were talking to random cacti, I had a very hard time to stop myself from laughing. It was quite a challenge to run around everywhere healing, while my belly was hurting. In the end we decided that I was to stay in a one meter radius from Keradis because he, as a member of the fierce felidae race, was the easiest to spot. Hahaha.. Even now I can’t stop myself from laughing. It was a challenge but also very funny.”
“For you maybe… Everyone else was slowly driven to despair.”
“Haha, their faces were priceless!”
From the slight trembling of our cactus priest’s body, I could already guess how hard he was trying to not burst out in laughter from our old memories. Even Sion could only grin mischievously while imagining such a scene. I bet he would want to see this but too unfortunately I never recorded it, so I guess I’m safe from embarrassment. At least I thought so until Emeralda asked something which was promptly answered with something which made an old trauma resurface.
“I made a video of it. If you want to see it I can send you the link. I uploaded it on our guild website.”
“Sure. I would love to see it. That reminds me, I have yet to upload the video with the chicken boss.”
“Oh god! Sion you saved that recording?! Don’t you dare send this to Emeralda or the whole guild will see it!”
It’s already bad enough that Maeda confiscated the video material for his video about the funniest deaths of our employees!! I don’t want to feel embarrassed in my guild too.
But of course my refusal was completely ignored by him and he even replied with a “Serves you right for the forced guild invitation”. I didn’t know that the kind hearted Sylph was capable of having such a deep rooted desire for revenge.
“You have a recording of it? Great! We really wanted to see that chicken boss in action and it’s always funny to see our serious Twilight Assassin mess up. I’m really looking forward to it.”
I only had one option left and that was to plead to him!
“Sion, please have mercy… I’m sorry about my evil deeds so far, I’ll get better, I promise you. Just don’t upload that video!”
Sion just smiled nicely, but to me it looked like the smile of the devil ready to eat a sinner’s soul. He didn’t reply and was just silently operating his menu window until the accursed title we earned from the quest, Killed By A Chicken, showed up and I knew he wouldn’t show any mercy. Today I learned a new lesson, Sion may forgive easily but once he has a deep rooted grudge he will strike at the right time without a shred of mercy.
“Oh is that the rare title you two got from being killed? Wait, I’ll take a screenshot so we can add it in our guild forum. Once we have the video, we can use it as a guide on how to receive the title.”
Don’t make my misery into a guide!! And it won’t work anyway, that chicken was already fixed to normal!
After a lengthy episode of begging which ended without any favourable results, I told Emeralda about the sudden message about a company meeting I have to attend. We decided to all log off and meet again in around an hour. Sion intended to cook and Emeralda set his mind of taking care of his garden for a while. Luckily it was friday and we all didn’t have to work tomorrow so after we decided to stay up all night to conquer the demon lord’s castle, we logged off.
Proofreader: ATK-49, Weni & Rim
Special Thanks to G.S. for supporting us!