Epilogue – This World: One
I had never attended an in-game funeral before. There was a rather legendary story about one happening three-quarters of a century ago. The person had died in real life and had known so many people that they’d decided to hold an in-game funeral for her.
I didn’t want to think about that story right now. That funeral had been crashed, the attendee’s killed because someone had thought it would be funny.
Nothing was funny about this. Nothing was funny about watching Gell cry and watching Iron try his best not to.
I didn’t know Iron very well, but he and Amy had been steadfast friends of Gell. The more time I spent with her, the closer I grew.
The guiltier I felt.
I stepped up to her and placed a hand on her shoulder. The creators of the Neurosync had outdone themselves. Perhaps a little too well. I shouldn’t be able to feel a lump of guilt in my throat, in game. But I could.
“Gell… it’s going to be okay,” I said soothingly.
The words didn’t matter. Gell wasn’t hearing words right then anyway.
I wanted to be here for her. Fuck, I wanted to be the friend she deserved, but now I was torn. My streams were making less and less money as I spent more and more time as Akwa instead of Red Thorn. At this rate, I’d have to go back to my job at the grocery store.
I… was beginning to think it might be worth it though. I could keep my identity from Gell forever. She never had to know. Did she?
‘No,” I thought. ‘I have to tell her. A real friend wouldn't hide something like that. Right? Even if she doesn’t forgive me…’
Realistically, nothing would change. Just another online player I no longer interacted with. There were thousands of those. Someone sitting in my Friends list whom I never talked to. That’s what Gell would become. If even that. We certainly weren’t friends as Red Thorn.
I was terrified of that.
In a few short months, Gell had become important to me. I’d never expected my plan to befriend her to ensnare me as well. But it had, and now…
‘I’ll tell her,” I thought. ‘As soon as she’s over this loss. As soon as the blow of losing Amy isn’t so prominent. Once she’s able to feel happy again. Then, I’ll tell her.’
Resolved, I knelt next to the gravestone myself. My own eyes were red, though more for Gell’s grief than for any sadness at the death of the old woman. I hadn’t known her well, but my friend was in pain and I wanted to help her if I could.
She turned and hugged me, full-snotty weeping into my shoulder.
As I returned the hug I felt as if I were holding a dagger behind her, and wished I could put it down anywhere but inside her back.
The End of Book Two
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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.
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