Mr. Familiar

by

EO Tenkey

Quest 19: Mr. Familiar Intervenes

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When next I faded into being, Lucy lost no time in scooping me up and booking it for the nearest town, leaving me with an awful feeling…which was soon corroborated when we hooked up with RayBanz in his favorite Fountain Town. Why the dude was so attached to this little Podunk was beyond me.

As soon as she was done hugging the cream out of him—I narrowly dodged getting smushed between the two yet again by taking to the air at the last second—she immediately whipped out her war hammer. "Hey Ray, check this out!"

His eyes practically bugged out of their sockets. "What the hinterlands is up with that giant hammer? Wait, you have the Strength necessary to wield something like that?"

"Yeah, I got a class while I was playing with Fluff-kins the other day! I'm a Berserker now!"

"You're a what now?"

"A Berserker! See, we were fighting these pig-things, and I was down to my last bit of—"

"No, no, back up. Why the hinterland would you choose that class?!"

"Huh? Well, I didn't really choose it, I just got it because—"

"No, I know how the class works! Some baloney about defeating an enemy that's high enough above your level after dropping to low health or some bull-scribble! I don't know how many times I've died trying to—but that's not the point!"

Uh, I kind of think that is the point, Mr. Jealous-Face.

"The point is that you're supposed to be building a ranged DPS character to back up my melee fighter! That was the whole point of you taking the Sprite-born race!"

"But I—"

"And why would you blow your money on a hammer? Where did you even find a giant hammer in the Sprite-born starting area?! It's not like any of the enemies around here should be dropping stuff like that, and that isn't a normal item in the shops, is it?"

"Well I—"

"Plus you still don't have any decent armor! I told you and told you that you'd unlock some decent damage skills within the first ten levels and you should focus on gearing up on better armor to offset your low health!"

"Yeah, I just recently learned Icy—"

"But here you are with some huge flicking hammer that you probably can't do scribble with, and how am I supposed to protect you if you're on the frontlines with me? I have enough on my plate trying to make sure you don't draw aggro as-is, even though you're always wandering out of formation!"

Okay, so I'd been trying to do my own thing—I'd figured as long as we were just standing around I might as well work on my take-offs from the ground—but this dufflebag was really cheesing me off. Hm, come to think I dealt a bit of damage when I pecked that plorg, huh? I rubbed my fuzzy arms together in glee. Time for some experimentation!

"—hear you're fighting plorgs without me?! You don't have any decent equipment, you haven't lucked into any good weapon drops, do you even have any potions on hand? You don't, do you, because I've been sharing mine. It's a wonder they didn't just slaughter your snazz. I can't imagine how you managed to—WOULD YOU QUIT PECKING MY LEG?!"

Hm? Whoever could he be talking about? Peck, peck, peck, peck, peck.

"Luce, this flicking bird of yours is buggy, I keep telling you over and over to report the flicking thing to the moderators, except apparently you don't bother to listen to a word I say! Diddle it, GET OFF!"

Ray punted me, and I briefly flew head-over-tail until Lucy snagged me out of the air and hugged me to her chest. "Mr. Familiar is not buggy! Don't be so mean!"

"Mean…! It was repeatedly pecking my leg! Peck-Pecks don't do that!"

"Well, maybe he just wanted you to stop yelling at me!"

Whoa, you nailed it, Lucy! Way to go! I tossed her a nod. Pa-keeng!

"It's a flicking cosmetic, it's supposed to just fly around your head and annoy everyone, not get underfoot!"

"Fluff-kins is not annoying!"

"IT'S A GOLL-DIDDLY PINK FLUFF BALL WITH WINGS, OF COURSE IT'S ANNOYING!"

Alright, that's it, now this is personal! I fluffed up my feathers and glared menacingly at Ray from Lucy's arms. You think me pecking you on the boot is bad? You ain't seen nothing yet, Mister!

"How can you say that?! He's adorable and you know it!"

Wait, why was Lucy getting so heated up about this? Um, Lucy? Maybe you should have been more angry when he was insulting your choices and general intelligence rather than calling me an eyesore? Because, uh, much as I hated to admit it, he kind of had a point on that one.

Ray was getting redder in the face by the second. "Argh, you're impossible when you get like this! Look, we'll play another time, okay? I'll try to figure out what to do about the Berserker thing. Maybe you can take a ranged sub-class or something and it will work out, but I just don't see how we can make that giant hammer work. Later."

"No, wait Ray, I—" But he was already fading away in a shower of sparkles.

Uh, Lucy? You're kind of squeezing me really tightly there.

She took a deep breath in, raised me up a bit, slammed her face down against my back, and screamed into my fluff.

Whoa, that tickles! Ah, seriously, stop that! Cheep cheep! I'm not your pillow, woman!

She finally ran out of breath, and practically fell to a sitting position with me squeezed in her lap. My back felt a little damp. Oh scribble, was she crying?! I mean, yeah, Ray definitely crossed the line a bit there, but honestly the whole "giant-hammer-wielding-Sprite-born" thing was admittedly a bit tough to swallow. I fearfully twisted myself around until I could see her face…and her eyes were a bit damp, but she wasn't full-on waterworks. Phew! I had literally no idea how to deal with a woman who was crying. Especially when she was squeezing me tightly up against her chest. Yeah, okay. Maybe I shouldn't have rotated around. This was kind of awkward.

"Sorry, Fluff-kins," Lucy said. "He just makes me so mad sometimes! I mean, I know he's right—"

No, he's not, he's just a self-righteous idiot.

"—but he just doesn't listen to me! I agreed to play because it sounded like you can do awesome stuff in this game and he clearly was having a great time and he said he needed someone to help him out, but the Sprite-born classes were just all so boring and I don't like shooting stuff! If I wanted to shoot stuff I'd go play one of those shooters that he's always cursing about."

I freed a limb and patted her awkwardly on the arm. There, there, Lucy. I know, your choices are a little non-standard, but it's not like there's a wrong way to play the game if you're having fun, right? I mean, okay, I still don't really understand what the hinterland you're doing with your stat points, but clearly your character is working for you! You got the Berserker class, which practically no one ever manages, tracked down a weapon you really love, and have been kicking butt!

Lucy's face kind of scrunched up and she buried it in the top of my head again. "Thanks, Mr. Familiar," she mumbled, voice muffled by my fluff. "I don't care what Ray says, you're perfect."

Gee, uh…well okay, um…I really don't know where that came from. But, uh, I guess as long as you're enjoying yourself, it's all good! 'Cuz I'd really like to keep existing! Not having any better ideas, I kept patting her for a few moments until she finally set me aside and stood up, taking a moment as she did to quickly wipe her eyes with the back of her hand.

"I suppose we might as well head back and see about taking out a few more plorgs, huh?"

I mean, I wholeheartedly approve of that sentiment, but…I placed the ends of my arms on the approximate region of my hips and gave her a stern look.

"Oh, but I should maybe buy some potions first, huh?"

She can be taught! Pa-keeng!


After a brief stop in the starter town, Lucy started ploughing through the plorgs in the cave that had given us so much trouble the day before. Boy, what a difference a couple skills and a pack full of potions made! Who'd have thought.

Given that she wasn't struggling particularly thanks to her health regeneration skill and the occasional potion, I opted not to try flying in front of any more axes and instead spent most of my time on the ground working on my take-offs. They…weren't going so well. I'd tried flapping my wings from a standstill. I'd tried waddling forward at full speed and flapping. I'd tried waddling and jumping and flapping. But the darn ability was playing hard to get in the worst way.

I kept experimenting, though. I was fairly sure it was just a matter of time.

And while I practiced, I pondered.

RayBanz was a bigger problem than I'd thought. If their past pattern repeated, I suspected we had a solo play session or two in our future before he deigned to join us, but his overly negative reaction to Lucy's character choices did not bode well for me. If her primary reason for playing the game was to be a party member for Ray, and he was against her current build to that extent…well, let's just say that the guy who apparently lived with her outside the game—and could, you know, speak—had a bit of a persuasive advantage over me. And I was pretty sure that you couldn't transfer cosmetic companions between characters.

Okay. So, anything I could do to incentivize Lucy to stick with her Sprite-born?

I guess I'd inadvertently helped myself last play session by taking that axe to the face. I had a feeling unlocking the Berserker class was going to be a major incentive for her to keep playing, since unlike her war hammer that was not something she could easily duplicate.

I was also pretty sure being a willing squeezing buddy when she was feeling down wasn't hurting my chances, either, even if it did make me uncomfortable. I doubted I'd be able to provide that service again unless they had another fight outside the game, though, which was out of my hands.

Would continuing to try and get under Ray's skin help me or hurt me? I mean, I had to be honest: I really wanted to keep messing with him. If I could ever figure out this flicking take-off thing, it'd be hilarious to land on his shoulder and just start pecking him repeatedly in the face the next time he was getting all nasty towards Lucy. But I wasn't sure if that was in my best interests. I hated to play nice with such a duffle, but if backing off meant he'd be more likely to accept Lucy's rather…unique character build, then maybe that was for the best.

Though who was I kidding, I hated that guy. I'd do my best, but had a feeling that I'd end up trying to ploink him off regardless.

Oh, come to think, one of my ideas for ways to increase Lucy's enjoyment was to try and get her to interact with other players, wasn't it?

Okay, now that I could do! So my mission, should I choose to accept it: find Lucy an in-game friend to party up with who patently wasn't Mr. Banzy-butt.

Too bad there wasn't an in-game sound effect for accepting a quest from yourself. Because quest accepted, bonkers!

…I seriously hated this profanity filter. So. Much.

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A note from EO Tenkey

Mr. Familiar uses snuggling: it's super effective!

Have you ever seen those "Squishable" stuffed animals that are all fluffy and round (and offer bizarre options like "a huggable avocado")? Now, I'm not saying my daughter receiving one of those as a gift was an inspiration for Mr. Familiar.

But I'm also not saying it wasn't.


About the author

EO Tenkey

Bio: Read all the things. Write all the things. Sleep? What's that? Does it taste good with chips?

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