Lucy walked through town while I perched on her shoulder and brooded. Saying I would find her a friend to play with was all well and good, but…well, we were in the Sprite-born starting town. So basically it was just Flavor of the Month Sprite-borns everywhere. Lucy had shown zero interest in striking up a conversation with random strangers, and while her focus on melee combat would make her pretty desirable as a party member to any of these wand-toting, ranged attackers I didn't think that teaming up with Generic Passerby Number Seven-Hundred-and-Fifty was going to appeal to Lucy. Which I could totally understand; I always played solo until I started hitting the dungeons that required a party, too.
Plus, now that I was thinking about it, how was I going to get Lucy to initiate a conversation, anyway? I'd need someone who would spark her interest somehow. Like if they were abnormally ripped, or had awesome equipment, or were carrying a giant axe like the random Yakshi-born who was just rounding the corner ahead of—OH SNAP, THE YAKSHI-BORN! I remembered that character! We saw her in the skill training hall back at Fountain Town. And now she was lugging around a giant axe? Scribble, opportunity was knocking and here I was sitting on my snazz!
I launched myself off Lucy's shoulder, and flew full tilt toward the corner where the Yakshi-born had disappeared.
"Whoa, Fluff-kins?! What are you doing?"
Alright, this was going to be tricky. Just about every time I hit the invisible barrier I ended up getting throw head over snazz, but I'd noticed a couple things: first, I hadn't immediately gone flying when I got hit by that axe, and second the barrier seemed to be a dome. So my theory was that if I hit it at the right angle and kept pumping my wings I might, through the grace of video game logic, be able to keep contact with the barrier on the crown of my head and just sort of maintain my position. As I drew closer to where I expected the barrier to be, I slowed down a bit because I didn't want to immediately bounce off, but any moment now…
Ah! There it was! My head smacked up against the barrier, and just as I expected I could feel my body beginning to compress at the point of impact. I furiously started pumping my wings, aiming to keep my force aimed just slightly up and forward where the barrier was located. It was working! This would totally—except I suddenly felt the barrier jerk forward and wasn't able to correct my flight pattern fast enough so I ended up suddenly shooting forward into it and rebounding back.
A moment of frantic mid-air acrobatics had me headed back in the right direction, though, as Lucy followed along behind me bemusedly. Pa-keeng!
"Seriously, buddy, where are you trying to go? No need to be so frantic."
Diddle it, woman, the target is out of sight! Come on come on, pick up the pace! My path corrected, I ran into the barrier again, and luckily enough was able to repeat my performance from earlier. Pa-keeng! Yeah, yeah, don't want to hear it right now, game! Holding position was hard. I had to maintain my relative location as Lucy moved and the invisible barrier moved with her. But it was working!
We were almost to the corner where the Yakshi-born had turned when I realized: how was I going to turn?
Thinking fast, I put on a spurt of speed, causing me to press even harder into the barrier, then I dropped the power out of my strokes. Just as before, I was sent rebounding backward, but I executed a quick flip in mid-air, twisted to my left, and flew for the alleyway ahead, Lucy following along behind.
Pa-keeng! I was awesome, wasn't I? Yes, yes, I was.
Unfortunately, what I hadn't been counting on was the Yakshi-born having stopped in the mouth of the alley just out of sight of the road while she messed around with her interface.
Splat. I face-planted right in the woman's breasts. Which would have been alright, except she was wearing a metal breastplate. So yeah, that happened.
I remained stuck for a moment before sliding downward. Luckily for me, Lucy caught me before I made inevitable and embarrassing contact with the ground.
"Mr. Familiar!" she exclaimed in frustration and embarrassment. "I'm so sorry, I don't know what he was…wow, I love your axe!"
Never change, Lucy.
Several minutes later, Lucy and the Yakshi-born—whose moniker was evidently Blocadoc—had relocated to a wooden bench in a nearby courtyard and were getting to know one another.
Lucy was currently leaning forward with avid interest painted all over her face. "If you don't mind my asking, what race are you playing? I haven't seen anyone like you around before."
To be fair, Yakshi-born definitely stood out when surrounded by a bunch of Sprite-born. Whereas Sprite-born were typically very pale-skinned, elfin, and mostly defined by muted colors (aside from their hair), Yakshi-born sported skin colors ranging from a burnished golden color to a deep mahogany, and they tended to stand at least half a head taller than most Sprite-born. Blocadoc had opted for a deep brownish-red skin tone that stood out in particular contrast compared to the muted beige, green, and earth tones that made up the standard Sprite-born color palette. Her features were more chiseled, her hair tied back in a complicated braid, and she sported some surprisingly large and elaborate gold earrings. It seemed that she had acquired most of her armor back in the Yakshi-born starting area, as well, given that it tended toward a lot more spiky metal ornamentation than was typical of native Sprite-born equipment. The embossed trees and vines that swirled down the front of her armor certainly fit right in, though.
"Ah, yes. This is a Yakshi-born. The race is based off some sort of Hindu or Buddhist spirit, so far as I know. My starting area was quite a ways to the south of here."
"Oh, are you sight-seeing then?"
Sight-seeing, Lucy? Seriously?
"No, nothing like that. I'm leveled appropriately for the quests around here, actually."
Well, that was in line with my assumptions, given I'd spotted the Yakshi-born training with low-level skill trainers, but it was still pretty weird. Hey Lucy, you should ask about that! Mind meld, activate!
"Really?! That's so cool! So where did you get that axe? That thing is awesome!"
…so much for our mind meld.
"Oh, well, uh, I actually bought this back where I originally spawned. They're a pretty common item in the Yakshi-born territories."
"I am absolutely going to have to visit sometime, then! I'm really happy with my hammer—" she pulled it out of her inventory to show it off, and Blocadoc's eyes widened, "—but there aren't a lot of alternatives around here that I've noticed, either. Plus my armor won't let me sling it over my shoulder like that! That's super cool!"
"Huh, so you're playing a melee-based Sprite-born?"
"Yep! I tried wands and stuff, but it turns out I just really like hitting things in the face!"
"Fascinating. Would you mind adding me to your friend list? I would love to chat with you more, maybe do a quest or something together."
"Sure thing! I've been playing this game a lot more than I thought I would, but it does get kind of lonely when Ray's not around. Good thing I've got Mr. Familiar to keep me company!"
"Right, your Peck-Peck." I suddenly found myself the focus of the Yakshi-born's rather intense gaze. I stared right back. No one out-stares a Peck—I mean, owl! "Does it—excuse me, he—often fly into things like that?"
Lucy whacked me on the head. Maybe she thought that was a loving pat? Maybe it would have been a loving pat if someone didn't keep pumping her Strength stat up! I broke my staring contact with Blocadoc to shoot her a grumpy look. "Ha ha, I guess he does, huh? That's the first time he's run into a person, though. I'm not sure why he took off like that." Her attention shifted my way. "I also didn't know you could fly in place like that! Who's a little fuzzy flying genius?" She ruffled up my feathers.
Excuse me! Why would you—diddle it all, stop that! Why did you have to get all embarrassing and snuggly all of a sudden!
I tried to twist myself off Lucy's lap, but she was having none of it, and eventually I just fluffed out my feathers in a huff and accepted my pets with bad grace. Uh, so Blocadoc was still staring at me, with a frankly unidentifiable look on her face. Awwwkward.
"I definitely want to do some quests with you, if you don't mind, LucyLips."
"Oh, right, sorry!" Lucy swiped open her interface, and they added one another to their contact lists. "I can't stay on too much longer today, but that sounds like tons of fun! Also, you can just call me Lucy."
"Mhm. You can call me Doc."
Alright, so I was getting a little creeped out by how intently this Yakshi-born was staring at me. Who thought it was a good idea to interact with her, anyway?
"Right, so I forgot to ask, but why are you here in the Sprite-born starting area? Your starting town is a long way away, right?"
"Yeah, it was a bit of a trip. I came up here because a lot of the skills are applicable, but mostly so that I could talk to players like yourself."
Right, Yakshi-born were one of the three races with a primary Intellect stat. Their sub stat was Strength, though, which helped explain the giant axe.
"Players like me?"
"Yeah, this race really stands out around here, right? You're actually the first person to approach me so far, but that was the whole point of coming up here."
"So you're trying to attract attention? Why's that?"
"Well, while I do enjoy playing BAO, I'm also working on my doctoral thesis on the psychological ramifications of this new full immersion technology and I want to talk to people who are playing the game about their experiences. Would you be willing to chat about that sort of thing? Maybe while I help you out with the quests you're working on?"
"Sure, I don't mind. That sounds really interesting. I'm just playing the game for fun, though, and because my boyfriend wanted to play." Lucy looked a little down about that—maybe remembering her spat with Ray earlier—so I stuck an arm over her hand where it was holding me and gave it a quick squeeze.
Had Doc's eyes flicked over to me and away? I was getting kind of nervous with the way her attention kept drifting to me instead of the person she was actively talking to. What was her deal?
"Wonderful. I look forward to questing with you and your Peck-Peck in the future."
Aaaand she called me out explicitly there. Seriously, what was with this lady? I had a really bad feeling I messed up when I led Lucy her way.
Though judging by the look of excitement on Lucy's face at the prospect of playing with her, I at least managed to achieve my initial goal. Hope it didn't come back around to bite me somehow.
Because that certainly never happened these days.