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A note from Vincent Archer

This is the last "small" chapter from the expedition. Next time we meet them, there's more to be seen. Meaning, we get two chapters for the price of one this Saturday.

This is also the first time I process the chapters thru Grammarly. I've gone back and cleaned the rest as well. It's daunting when you open a chapter and see 68 red flags... It's not professional editing, but the text should have a lot fewer mistakes now. (like right now, when I wrote "a lot less" and it scolded me "a lot fewer". Whoops, my bad)

(Y6, July 4th)

 

Vasilikulik was starting to pour tea when Zaccali appeared in the middle of the camp. The bow was drawn, ready to unload.

Seeing nothing threatening around, she lowered her bow. Vasili offered her a cup, but she shook her head.

“You should know by now. Coffee or nothing.”

“There’s hot water. But no instant coffee.”

She dropped her bag and started to search, while Vasili looked on. She wore a different set of clothes than before Recess, but equally matching and equally Northworld-made. Vasili had pegged her from the start as a full immersion, would-be-local girl. So, far, he seemed to be right.

She finally added a pinch of Nespresso to her cup, a concession to role-play.

“So you’re first. It’s too much to expect everyone to stick to the exact timing, but sometimes you…”

Wisuqkz was just next to the firepit, hands raised and fingers stretched, ready to throw his spells. Unlike after Setup, spawning didn’t drain your vitals, so he had whatever magical energies he had before Recess. Seeing the two trekkers with their cup in hand, he lowered his hands, then bowed.

A sense of danger straightened him. Turning abruptly, he saw Mastabasta, sword drawn and ready… 5cm behind his back.

“The fuck man! Be careful!”

“What do you expect? You always spawn ready to fight, unless you returned from a spot 100% guaranteed to remain safe.”

“Yes, but your sword was a bit… too close.”

“Not my fault. You know we were supposed to recess well separated.”

Wisuqkz grumbled without replying directly.

 

Both men had their coffee in hand when, five minutes later, Maelia popped at the edge of the camp, double daggers in hand. She was equally skilled with bow and blade but usually preferred the latter.

“Four already. Wow. I expected to be among the first ones.”

“Come sit, dear”, said Vasili.

“Tea’s ready and honey next to the pot” he added.

“Thanks, Russki. You know how to welcome a lady.”

“Never known how to welcome ladies. You, on the other hand…”

They both laughed at the joke.

“No, sincerely, I’m impressed. First time where recess is timed correctly.”

“We still have one missing member. Don’t jump to conclusions.”

 

The breakfast was over, the pit ashes dispersed, and they were starting to break camp when Warander appeared with his backpack on the back and his signature rune staff in hand.

“You’re late, man. And careless.”

Zaccali came and gave him a quick kiss. Both had hit off during the trip and had been flirting and making overtures since. Unconsummated, given the vagaries of the expedition and recess, but Vasili gave them a week tops before they snuck off in the wild to have time together.

“You should know that a wizard is never late nor early...”

“The other wizards here were on time, unlike you. Missed breakfast.”

“So what? You can’t see people or monsters through the Silvergate, but you can see the camp pretty well. You were ready.”

 

Vasili consulted his location set and then pointed toward the forest’s edge in the distance.

“That way. Let’s get going.”

Four weeks in, five days recess to stave Adaptation Sickness. The timing was respected.

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A note from Vincent Archer

If you're unsure about the timing, this is 3 days before Vantegaard spawns in Northworld.


About the author

Vincent Archer

  • France

Bio: Vincent Archer wrote his first story around age 11. On a mechanical typewriter, with carbon paper for a mimeograph to distribute in class. His teacher knew enough to make vague encouraging noises rather than really tell him what she thought. He wrote more stories afterward, but Time has thankfully managed to erase every trace of them.

Now that his career has settled in a mix of routine and insanity and that he's figured out that herding cats would probably be easier, he's finally started to write stories again on a media rather than inside his brain. Some of those are even potentially good enough to show to other people.

Silvergates is his first attempt to finish one rather than admit defeat against the usual writer's block.

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