Chapter Thirty Five - The Archer and The White Mage
Amy looked at me, her expression morphing from worried to deadly serious. “Gell, is there someone you know here?”
“Y-yes. They… I don’t want to be around them,” I murmured.
I wanted to kill her. I wanted to flee. How did she find me? She had to be here for me, right? But I looked so different from before! She couldn’t still want my body could she? I thought she’d been scared when I’d finally screamed at her but here she was.
Was she trying to find me? Trying to kill me again? Trying to imprison me back in that damn cave?
I wouldn’t go back. I turned back to where she had been and scanned the people milling about the square, looking for her. I wasn’t the same victim I had once been. I’d defended Dungeon Home. I’d escaped. I’d become an invader. A player killer.
She wasn’t the only one who could kill anymore.
“No,” I said aloud. “Fuck no. I’ll never go back.”
I seethed, rage replacing the fear. “I’d rather die a thousand times. Ten thousand!”
“Gell… is everything oka–?!”
“Fuck you, you Jellybitch! You hear me! Fuck! You!” I screamed, my voice filling the square while I tried desperately to find the unbelievably fast monster of an invader.
“Yeah, fuck you jellybitch! Haha!” someone in the crowd happily shouted with me.
I seethed, frustrated that I couldn’t find her before turning and striding angrily towards the sound of the music that no longer sounded quite so delightful.
I could practically feel Iron and Amy sharing one of those glances behind me again but I didn’t care. I also didn’t know if this rowdy place with all the music was actually where they’d been going, but it was where I was going.
It had been a long time since I’d heard music and I wasn’t going to let that… that… monster, ruin my freedom.
The building was a large one-story place that took up the entire right side of the square. Lights spilled from within and the sound of music grew much more pronounced as I entered it. There were about as many empty tables as there were full ones, and the smells that greeted me upon entering did a great job of wiping the encounter with Red Thorn from my mind.
Why was she always threatening me? What did I ever do to her?
“I’ll kill her, just like she killed me. That’ll show her,” I mumbled, letting loose my shocker into nothing through my hands, creating a satisfying zap.
“Gell, we’re getting worried about you. What’s going on? Talk to us,” Amy said calmly as she followed me into the building.
I sat down at one of the open tables and Iron and Amy both sat down beside me. “I saw… someone in that crowd. Someone I want to kill,”
“Whoa there. No PKs in here. This bar is for respectable folk. You’ll just have to go on, now,” said an authoritative man named Matthias, the Innkeeper.
I looked up at him and growled. “I want to hear the music.”
He twitched for a moment. “You’ll need to clear on out. You’ve got a bounty.”
“Oh damn. I forgot about–!” Iron started.
“I want to hear the music,” I hissed, now feeling livid. This jerk wanted to keep me from hearing the bard? Screw that. I was free now. I would go where I wanted, when I wanted. The Instinct hadn’t stopped me and some fat innkeeper certainly wouldn’t.
The man’s eyes glazed. His body twitched, going fuzzy for a moment, before he turned back to us and grinned like we were old friends. “Welcome to the Edge of the Bridge! Best Inn on either side of the Bossourin River! What can I get for you folks?”
Well. That was an abrupt change in attitude.
“I want a Steak-and-Broccoli!” I insisted.
“We’ll… take a room for the night too. Actually two of them, and we’ll buy her food,” Amy said to the barkeeper, sounding skeptical.
“A generous soul to pay for a friend like that! A Steak and Broccoli platter for the young Jellyfae. What can I get for you two? We’ll have your rooms prepared while you eat, and you can retire at any time!”
I simpered, pleased that he hadn’t called me a Jellyfish.
Amy smiled at him seeming to have not noticed. “You’re too kind. I’ll have a slab of the steak as well, and buttered corn, please.”
Iron rolled his eyes, as the innkeeper beamed at Amy. I frowned. The dark skinned man had acted the same way when Amy waved at the dwarf on the road earlier. Like… they weren’t worth interacting with, somehow?
Then again, maybe I was just reading too much into it.
“Buttered Yams, Cherry Delight, Blackberry Cobbler, and an Ice Cream Sundae,” Iron said with no preamble.
“Very good sir! I’m sure your wife will be overjoyed with your tubby belly!” Matthias said jovially.
Iron barked an involuntary laugh, and Amy joined him as the innkeeper walked away, though I didn’t understand.
“They’re getting more creative with the NPC’s responses, eh, Amy?”
“He wasn’t wrong! You’ll get digitally fat!” Amy joked.
He laughed, but I was still confused by the whole encounter. NPC…? Was Matthias one of the NPCs Half Bold had been talking about?
The foods Iron had chosen did have a high saturated fat content. Pie and Ice Cream were defined as traditionally fatty foods. Maybe… maybe the joke had something to do with how fat had two meanings: The nutritional content and the… state of body?
Why did fat have two meanings anyway? That was stupid. While I was musing over words with double meanings and just about to decide that the fat inside of foods would henceforth be known as “taf” instead, I was distracted by Matthias’s return.
The man was carrying five plates of varying sizes, and all of them were balanced precariously on his two arms. I would’ve spared a moment to be awed by how much could be carried by the infernal limbs, had I not been utterly distracted by the three smaller plates that were laid in front of Iron.
Two of them looked absolutely wonderful. The third… was horrifying.
“Y-you’re… you’re going to eat that? It’s covered in blood!” I exclaimed, pointing at what I could only assume was the cherry delight.
From my perspective, there was nothing delightful about it! Maybe… maybe they both really were invaders! Just a different, much more subtle sort!
I was so shocked, I didn’t react in time before he dipped his finger in the bloody concoction and popped it into my open mouth with a grin.
My first reaction was absolute disgust before the taste hit me.
“Oh my god, I love eating blood…” I thought as the most wonderful sensation swept over my lips. It was even better than Steak-and-Broccoli! Did I taste like that!? Was this why Red Thorn killed me so often?
Damn… I’d eat me too…
I gazed longingly at the bloody cherries, then back to Iron, then to the cherries again. Hating myself for wanting another bite. For wanting the whole disgusting — delicious — thing.
“It’s not blood, silly,” Amy said, giggling. “It’s Cherry Delight! It’s… sugar? Digital sugar?”
I was about to respond when someone sat down at the other table. I turned and blanched as I found a very familiar face sitting across from me, glaring daggers at me.
Or, more appropriately, arrows.
“Uhm. H-hi,” I said with a gulp.
“Give me back my fucking bow,” Dull Beauty said, her voice carrying a hint of menace. “And then change my name back. I don’t know how you did it but my name is Zephyr Bird. I played in the beta to get that name. I want it back.”
I turned to Iron. “So… she can’t hurt us here, right?”
Amy suddenly hit her invisible screen and began touching the air frantically.
Iron blinked looking between myself and the girl he’d killed a few cycles ago. “She… can’t. Though she can annoy us, and you’re not an archer anyway. It might be worth it to just give her her bow back.”
Using his fork he stuffed some of the… cherry delight into his mouth while another person sat down at the last open spot on the other side of the table. The healer, Bellcandy the Halfling, was easy to recognize from the battle before. His strange blue streak in otherwise blond hair matched the color of the tattoo on his face.
Unlike Dull Beauty, he didn’t seem angry in the slightest.
“Hey, great fight earlier. Seriously though. How did you get that epic race ability? One-touch paralyze and nearly one hundred and fifty damage? That’s insane, at early levels at least. Would love to switch over to your race,” the blond healer said cheerfully. “Thus far, the boost to charisma and quick mana regen have been great, but nothing on that! Also that trick you played with it!? So great.”
“You’re… not… mad? That I killed you?” I asked, curiously.
“Mad? Naw, fair’s fair. For one-v-five and you still managed to come out ahead? Even with the trick, props. That was a hell of a fight. Also, I got to see Half Bold get his ass burnt, so it was all worth it. Hate that little twerp. Bit sad about the lost level, though if I get to party with you in the future? Might’ve been worth it.”
“This is irrelevant. My bow and my name. Fix them, or I swear I will make every minute you spend in this game a nightmare,” Dull Beauty threatened, drawing my attention back to her malicious eyes.
Something about the threat felt so… impotent, though. She wasn’t drawing any weapons. She wasn’t even attacking me. Just… talking. Demanding sure, but she was saying new things. That was when invaders were at their best. When they were discussing and talking. In comparison to Red Thorn, a girl I’d managed to kill twice now just didn’t scare me very much.
“Why should I? You lost it fair and square,” I challenged. “And I want to shoot things! I always wanted one of these before.”
“Miss, uhm. Dull Beauty, and Bellcandy? My name is Am… huh. Amy Thyst,” she said cocking her eyebrow at her own name for some reason. “My husband and I are escorting Gell to Variak. We’re sorry she attacked you but you were about to invade a dungeon that is… very personal to her.”
She eyed them strangely and then pointed her finger to where her own interface might be. Whatever the gesture meant, the others got it instantly and immediately started looking at their invisible screens.
“Amy? Did you say something to them? What did you say? Can I hear? Ohh, did you send a message! Ah!” I said as I looked at my messages. There were two hundred of them now! I opened the screen again and found that Amy hadn’t sent me one though.
“Aww…” I pouted.
Dull Beauty’s face suddenly morphed into one of horrified sympathy, and Bellcandy’s became skeptical.
“What did she say? Did she say things to you in the messages? Oh, were her messages green? Or Purple? Or were they just regular text like the ones she’s sent me?” I asked the healer and archer, anxiously staring at the two of them.
Dull Beauty looked at me for a few long moments before turning back to Amy. “I… see what you mean.”
“I don’t!” I glared at Amy. “Fine! Two can play that way!”
I pulled up my own message screen and pressed the icon that allowed me to compose a new message. Thinking of the recipients I found that Dull Beauty and Bellcandy’s bodies would highlight green if I wanted to send messages to them. I pressed the “Enter” button and a bigger box showed up with a keyboard. Oh! I could make my own words!
I quickly created my own message and sent the profound words off to the Archer and the Healer with a title and everything!
“Amy is really old, and Iron likes to eat blood! But don’t tell them I said that!”
Gell, the Jellyfae.
I dismissed the overlay, the action feeling as natural as following the instinct once had, and turned to grin victoriously at Amy. “Hah! Now you’ve been talked about behind your message system! Doesn’t feel nice, does it?”
Bellcandy and Dull Beauty were both snickering a little. Amy just laughed instead of being offended, much to my annoyance.
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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!
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