Side stories - Alexis and Meela
Sometime around Year 77, Month 9.
“Looking at the skies again?” Meela’s soul pops up in Alexis’s mind. It seems there’s a kind of shared network that exists for all the souls and artificial souls under TreeTree’s care. Perhaps it’s the [rootnet]’s ability.
“I always do.” Alexis sits on the branch of her biolab, from the outside it looks like a very large tree, but inside it’s filled with all sorts of unusual equipments. “I really like the sky. It’s orangey today.”
“I can somewhat imagine it. Isn’t it nice, not having to run here and there, fighting all the time, just to gain levels?”
“...it’s not a bad change in pace.” But her face is a bit sulky.
“But it’s not enough for you, isn’t it?”
Alexis looks up, there’s a small orange cloud floating overhead. “...yeah.”
Alexis shakes her spiritual legs. For those not attuned to magic, she’ll appear as a wisp, a faint blob of blue light on top of a branch, for those with the right affinity to spiritual magic, she appears as a young girl, but ethereal, that is bonded and lives in that ‘biolab’. She is, in a way, the biolab, and this ‘ethereal body’ is just a ‘form’, a ‘projection’ from that biolab.
“I always thought we’d survive. Like heroes in all those stories. A happy ending for all of us.”
“Eh? You’re the one doing the most research and saying we’d all most likely die. The rest of us were just winging it.”
“I mean, I had the data staring at me, telling me otherwise, but a part of me still, truly, believed in that fantasy, that all things will end well.”
“You’re just like all of us after all.” Perhaps there’s a smile somewhere in there.
Alexis looks up again, the sun is gradually setting, and there’s just a few clouds. One of the moons is already visible, it’s glow is faint, but as the sky darkens, it’ll get clearer, and clearer.
“I… I thought of what I’d do after the war. After the demon king.”
“I’d go on a holiday. A world tour, properly, this time. Not our rushed city-to-city killing big monsters kind of tour. Take the time to hike the highest mountains, and see the uncharted lands, explore the world…”
“That sounds like being an adventurer.”
Alexis pauses, and blushes. “Ah.. yeah. I guess it does. But here I am, stuck here serving the tree spirit as a research assistant.”
“Hey, that’s what all of us end up doing, if we’re still at home. Working in dead end jobs.”
They both laugh. “Well, that’s a good point. This is a dead end job, isn’t it?”
“One that you have to work for 1,000 years.”
“Man, that’s depressing to think about. And look at me, I’m this… tree.”
“You should ask for a holiday. Ask for normal employment terms, leave days and sick leave.”
“Uh… I highly doubt soul contracts has allowances for leave days and sick leaves.” Alexis laughs.
“Eh, I think everything can be negotiated. Perhaps some kind of arrangement can be made. Look at Yvon, she’s still out and about even though there’s a soul contract in her.”
“That’s cause she’s not dead yet!”
“Ahhhh…” Meela’s probably making an embarrassed face. She doesn’t comprehend soul magic all that well.
“Anyway. I’m stuck here. And TreeTree doesn’t trust me.”
“Of course he doesn’t. You tried to take over his body. Now that I think of it, he’s being generous to give you this ‘dead-end’ job you’re complaining about.”
“It’s my survival instincts!”
An awkward silence.
“We probably should talk about something less… touchy.”
“What were you thinking of doing after the war, Meela?”
“Me? I didn’t think about much, but I thought I’d be a princess. Have high-tea in some fancy palace, eat dessert, walk in pretty gardens and stuff.”
“Doesn’t that mean you have to marry some prince?”
“Uh… I suppose so. I’ll have first choice, won’t I? I’m a hero after all.”
“And doesn’t that mean you have to.. You know… sleep with them?”
Meela pauses, “I didn’t think of that. I’d pick a handsome one with no body odor then. But yeah, I’d like to be a princess. This is another world, and being a princess like those fairytales would be something I’d like to do.”
“But it’ll be you that’s rescuing the prince, because you’re the hero, and he’s not. He’ll be the dude in distress!”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“Uh… nothing, but it’s strange I guess.”
“You’re kooky, Alexis.”
“Uh. You too, Meela.”
“You know, I still really like one of the princess’s gowns. It’s so pretty. Remember Princess Alainas of the Faroah isles? I really liked her sea-shell dress during the reception they threw for us. It really captured the essence of a mermaid.”
“All I remember is her trying to hit on Max so hard. She was really trying to give herself to him.”
“Oh I remember that. What, were you jealous? Wait. You liked Max?”
“No I didn’t! But I just remembered how ridiculous the princess was.” Alexis shakes her head. “All the touching, and flirting… it’s just so horrifying to watch. It’s like a train crash in slow motion happening.”
“But she’s really pretty. And if Max doesn’t have [immunity to charms], he’d fall for her.”
“I don’t think its the charms though.” Alexis shrugs. “Notice how none of us ever eyed any of the good looking men or women we meet throughout our journey? I think it’s the effect of the [hero] title. Until our quest is done, we won’t be sidetracked by such stuff.”
“Oh man.” Meela sighs. “Did that mean I missed all the good men that could have been in my life too?”
“Maybe. You could’ve been a princess, if you’re not a hero.”
"It's not fair…" Alexis sulks
"We spent years fighting demons, hunting them throughout the world and we killed the demon king. And what did we get? No special reincarnation from the gods. No post-battle reward, to thank us for our sacrifice, those years of constant gruesome fighting. Isn't the gods just using child soldiers in a way?"
"Uh. I never thought it like that. I thought it a privilege, a responsibility for those with our gifts. And we are no longer the teens we once were."
"Just a few years, Meela."
“But we have a second chance here. We’re still in this world. We can still reap the rewards of our sacrifice.”
Meela’s spirit bobs. “I don’t like the sound of that.”
“No. No no no. I mean… I don’t have to be trapped in this dead end job forever.”
“The soul contract’s on you…”
“Maybe TreeTree can release me from it. Then we can travel the world.”
“Uh…we can travel the world if we wait 1,000 years. We could just go and sleep in the [soul realm], and wake up 1,000 years later.”
“You can do that, I can’t. So these 1,000 years will be a lot longer for me. If I have to keep doing research for the next 1,000 years I might go mad."
"Well, talk to TreeTree? A bit of honesty, and maybe you can achieve something big for him. Then he can free you from your contract."
"Huh. I certainly don’t plan to serve-” Alexis winces in pain, its an intense one and sends Alexis into a kind of fidgeting shock.
“Oh dear. You triggered it.”
The pain lasted for a good 10 minutes, Meela, a floating soul, could only watch as her friend is in intense pain.
“Ugh man that was a bad headache. What was I saying? Where was I? What were we talking about?” Alexis finally recovers from the pain, and seems to be having some kind of amnesia.
Meela pauses, before deciding not to remind Alexis of the discussion. “Oh nothing, we were just talking about dresses. Remember Lady Alice's silver bling dress...”