Chapter Eight – Hard Truths

A knock came on the door, startling me up from the book I’d been pouring over for hours now.

Bugbear was asleep on his bed, his snoring keeping rhythmic time with the periodic twitter of a bluejay outside. The cycle was late afternoon, and clouds had come out. I knew they would remain high in the sky but that no rain would accompany them.

Wind, however, would.

This became apparent when whoever was knocking at my door, opened it, and a rustle of strong wind sent the pages of my book flying. I scrambled, glaring at the door as I realized I had already lost my page.

Seeing the pages fly, the newcomer quickly slipped inside and closed the door, but the damage had already been done.

I would’ve been angry, except the book was already proving to be frustratingly boring. I didn’t know if there were other programming ethics books but I was getting to the point where I was considering summoning Francis back, just to demand that he throw some pictures in.

Reading was a slow process, accompanied by the usual bursts of knowledge. Tyrone had told me that I was tied to a dictionary, and hearing words I didn’t understand would trigger a function that would provide me with that word’s definition. That function had been overworking today as almost every other word triggered the flood of information.

I was almost thankful to put the book down and look up, only to see Akwa peering up at me from under blonde bangs. Her shoulders were hunched and her face scrunched up in a worried frown.

“I guess he decided to start teaching you after all, huh?” she asked, glancing at the closed cover of the book.

“Ethics,” I said. “No actual code. Just morality. Rules. Teaching me what I shouldn’t do before I ever learn anything valuable. It’s… something,” I replied, trying not to feel disappointed.

“Not enough?” she asked piercingly.

“It… I want to say it is, but really it’s not. It’s a lot of fancy words for how to not be a jellyjerk!” I shouted, annoyed. “I feel like I already know that. Amy…”

“She was a good teacher,” Akwa agreed. “It’s honestly incredibly lucky that you met her first instead of most of the people in this world.”

“Well… technically I didn’t meet her first. I met Red Thorn, and then I met another jerk called Half Bold. He tried to make me a pet! Damn Beastmasters…”

Akwa blinked. “I never knew that.”

“Yeah… I met him again shortly after I escaped Dungeon Home but haven’t seen him since. I don’t think he’s capable of hurting me anymore, since I’m a player now.”

“That’s… good,” Akwa said. She was shifting from foot to foot.

“Are you feeling okay?” I asked, looking at her curiously. “You look like you just ate something bad.”

She breathed out a sigh. “Gell I have something I need to tell you. It’s important and… and I don’t know how to say it.”

I cocked my head at her, freckles glowing a curious lime green color.

“You seemed perfectly happy to speak your mind to Tyrone,” I said.

She winced. “I’m still sorry about that. I didn’t think he’d flip out like he did. I heard he quit his job.”

It was my turn to flinch. “He quit…? You mean he’s not a developer anymore?”

“You didn’t know?” Akwa asked before cursing softly. “Dammit, this just gets easier and easier.”

It didn’t seem like whatever she was trying to say was getting easier. It sounded like the exact opposite.

“Oh!” I exclaimed. “Sarcasm?”


“Yes!” I cheered.

Akwa laughed bitterly. “You’re… dammit, you’re killing me Gell!”

“Also sarcasm?”

“Not as such.”

She sighed, sitting down on my bed, eyeing bugbear warily for fear of waking him.

“Just tell me what you’re trying to tell me. How bad could it be?” I asked, actually becoming a little nervous now.

Akwa was reminding me a little bit of Zephyr when she’d confessed about her paraplegia, except this seemed more guilt ridden. More conflicted. What could be bothering her so much?

“It could make you never want to see me again… it could make you hate me. Easily. But I… can’t keep hiding it from you,” she said softly. “I’ll understand if you never want to talk to me again, but I’ve grown to know you. I don’t think you’d ever hurt anyone. Not even people who deserve it, like me.”

I blinked. She thought she deserved to be hurt?

“I told you when we met that I have an alternate character, remember?”

I nodded solemnly.

“Well. That… that character's name isn’t Akwa. O-obviously. It’s something el–!”

“By the false gods, just tell me already!” I said, growing tired of her waffling.

“My alternate character’s name. It’s Red Thorn.”


A note from Materia-Blade

A/N: Hehe. Cliffhanger is cliffhangery.

Unfortunately, I'm not quite reviving this fic yet. Instead, I'd like to use it to promote my other story The Solar Towers. It's an apocalyptic fantasy story masquerading as Sci-Fi. I've been updating it like a madman lately for NaNoWriMo, but it's not getting much attention. Hopefully, that changes after it makes the 25,000-word midway point of the write-a-thon. (I submitted it for the write-a-thon with almost 50,000 words already so it's getting pretty beefy!)

I feel like it's one of my best works and hope yall will give it a chance. Over the next day, I've actually scheduled 5 updates (each at least 3000 words) so there's more available than what's there. 

You can, of course, read ahead on Patreon, as always. :D I'm a lil behind on Nano but I do think I'm going to make it! 

Anyways I hope you enjoy that story, and please be patient with me for this one. I'll be picking it back up as soon as Solar Towers is finished, which will hopefully be near the same time as the end of Nano! Wish me luck!

Till Next!

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About the author


Bio: Hello!

I'm Materia-Blade. I've been a long time fanfiction writer, and have recently decided to toss my hat into the original fiction arena. I love fantasy, sci-fi, and Lit-RPG's and have read hundreds of books from each genre.

My new story Artificial Jelly has released and is currently being pretty well received! Excited for it to hit trending! Thanks to those who support it, and me, and I hope it continues to impress!

Hope to hear from you soon!

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