Flying was glorious. I gotta say, my path to flight had been awkward and my current take-off strategy was a total hack, but…if I woke up tomorrow and discovered this had all been a dream, I'd definitely miss flying.
Unfortunately for my personal improvement plans, Lucy's progress through this quest had all but ground to a halt. While she'd been able to either power through or kite the first few groups of plorgs, soon after I finally got the hang of taking off out of a forward flip—basic dance move, my snazz—we'd dropped down a ledge with no obvious way to get back which meant that Lucy was no longer able to kite things until her skills were available again. She'd still won the next couple battles, but her potion stock had taken a steep plunge and she was starting to look worried.
"I don't know, Fluff-kins. Another battle or two like that, and I'm going to be out of potions. Do you suppose if I log out, I'll get dumped right back here when I come back? I'm getting kind of tired, anyway."
Hm, probably not. This honestly felt like an instanced dungeon, so as long as she was offline for more than an hour or so, I was betting she'd get dumped at the cave entrance. Cheep cheep!
"Oh? You don't think we'll have to keep going from here?"
How did I even answer that? Yes? No? Man, English was a terrible language. I landed on a large rock that was near her and did my best impression of a shrug. Which…kicked off some sort of strange dance move with me shifting my arms up and down as I sort of swayed side to side. Oooookay.
Once Lucy got over her laughing fit, she gave me a hug. "Now, now, don't be angry! That was super cute."
Pa-keeng! Oh, for the love of…
"Okay, well I'll see you tomorrow, Mr. Familiar! Maybe Doc will be on and we can give this quest another shot. Sleep well!"
And off she went.
As predicted, we faded into being a little way off in the woods from the entrance to the cave where Lucy had logged off. When I popped my interface open to take a peek at the date, though, I discovered that she'd been wrong about one thing: it was three days later, not one. That was a little concerning.
I waddled over to Lucy at top speed to check what she was up to.
"Diddle, this is going to suck," she muttered, closing out what looked like her messages. "Oh hey, Fluff-kins." Grabbing me off the forest floor she gave me a quick squeeze, before settling me in the crook of her arm as she took off jogging toward the nearest road.
I whapped her with my arm, sort of leaned over in the closest approximation to a head tilt that I could manage, and cheeped questioningly. Lucy got a sort of daaaaw look on her face. Pa-keeng!
"Ray's finally back on, but we have to get back to the starter town to meet him."
Flick, that sucked. Well, not much I could do about it, I supposed. Cheep cheep!
"Ha, yeah sorry. I guess you're not a huge fan of Ray, huh?"
"He's not that bad, though. We—talked things out, and he thinks he's got some ideas for how I can fight better with my hammer!"
Rrrrright. While she jogged on, I popped my interface open, and sure enough my last two behavior points went to Cuteness. What the flick? This whole system was buggy, I swear.
Not that I'd ever say that to Witchy.
An interminable bit of travel time later and we'd met up with Ray…who in his infinite wisdom set Lucy to killing gribblins.
Seriously, what was this dude's fascination with the South Yorba area?! I didn't get it.
It was admittedly pretty hilarious watching his growing dismay, though, as Lucy absolutely slaughtered her way through the forest. She was mowing through the local gribblin population so fast that Ray didn't even have time to try and loot the bodies most of the time. He'd originally tried to fight a few, too, but he was so much slower at killing them that eventually he just fell back and started watching her from the sidelines with this baffled look on his face.
Which was great for me. I got to follow along in her wake and peck-peck-pecked my way through the carnage. It was nasty, but hey! Better than those scribble-tasting plorgs. Sa-woop!
Unfortunately, I seemed to be getting diminishing returns. Although I definitely grew a little bigger, it was nowhere near as much as I was hoping for. I wasn't sure if my growth was capped in general, or if the level difference between me and the gribblins mattered, or if maybe there was only a set amount I was allowed to grow from pecking any particular creature, or what. Any way I sliced it, it was disappointing, though. I was getting close to the size of a basketball at this point, but I'd really love to keep growing. I figured a waist-high bird would be pretty diddle intimidating, even if I was still roly-poly and covered in pink fluff.
Eventually we hit a lull in the fighting—having apparently defeated the majority of the mobs of gribblins in the area—and Lucy turned to Ray. "What do you think, Ray?"
He frowned. "I don't know what to think, Luce. Sure that hammer is a lot more effective than I expected, and your skills are good against these trash mobs, but what the hinterlands? Our party composition is completely flicked."
"Eh heh heh." Lucy bashfully clutched her hammer to her chest. Guess she only paid attention to the first part of that, then.
"How does a Sprite-born get that good at melee, anyway?" Ray mumbled, half to himself. "I mean, I'd heard Berserker was a good class, but come on. Sprite-born stats just shouldn't support that."
Well, yeah, normally I'd agree with you. But normally a player would lean into their primary stat instead of distributing all their points to their weakest stats, you know?
"Seriously, Luce, I just don't think this is going to work. I mean, killing gribblins isn't exactly hard. They'd die to a sneeze. But once we get to the higher levels, the end game is going to completely kick your snazz, and then where will we be?"
"Aw, come on, Ray! It can't be that bad! I'll just get a bigger hammer!"
"No, I mean it. How about you re-roll a—hm, what would even make sense? Maybe a Golem-born? I think their starting area is somewhat nearby, so you could gain a few levels on your own while I worked my way over there. And their whole schtick is tanking hits. I could work with that; maybe get a sub-class focused on ranged attacks so I can jump between roles as needed."
"Ew, those rock-people? No way! They barely look human! Besides, then I'd lose Mr. Familiar!"
Admittedly, the Golem-born were the least human of the playable races. They were a little bigger than most of the other character models, and were weirdly blocky looking. Whoever designed that race really liked their vintage mining games.
"Who? The Peck-Peck? Why the hinterlands did you name her—whatever, I don't care. You can always get another Peck-Peck!"
"No way, Mr. Familiar is one of a kind!"
Uh, Lucy? Do you not remember how we were not going to out me to Ray? I was starting to panic a bit here. What do to, what to do? I waddled back a bit so I was out of Ray's line of sight, did a quick front-flip into the air, and after correcting my course aimed for Ray's head. I didn't like where this conversation was going at all, so I guess it was time to intervene!
Whumpf! I collided with Ray's head like the world's fluffiest pillow just as he turned to look at me. Must have seen me coming from the corner of his eye.
"What the scrib—diddle it, get off me!" Ray tossed me off his face, and I wildly tried to correct my course before gliding down to land at Lucy's feet and doing my best to look innocent.
"I keep telling you, that thing is defective!" Ray raged.
"No, he's not!" Lucy shouted, scooping me up and hugging me to her chest. "What are you doing?" she muttered for my ears only.
Uh, Lucy? Yes and no questions are kind of what we've got to work with, remember? Cheep cheep!
"No, it's—argh! Fine! I don't care! If you want to mess up your endgame over a buggy cosmetic, who am I to argue? Do you get off on screwing up or something?"
Whoa, buddy. Scale it back. I trained my best owl glare on Ray, but he wasn't looking at me anymore. Too wrapped up in his own little rage world.
I really hated this guy.
"Come on, Ray, it's not that bad…"
"Yes, it is! You don't know anything about this game! Obviously! If you'd listened to me in the first place…but you never do! You just go and do your own stupid thing, again, and expect me to just deal with the mess!"
Lucy's grip on me was getting awfully tight. Oof, you could really tell she'd been juicing that Strength stat! "I know you've played the game a lot more than—"
"Yes! Exactly! But does that matter once you get some dumb idea in your head? Like 'Oh, I want to swing a hammer around like a flicking blacksmith!' No!"
So, correct me if I'm wrong, Lucy, but this sure doesn't seem like someone who has some ideas for how you can use your hammer. This was just a repeat of your last in-game fight. Right? Want me to go peck him in the—geez, let up a bit, woman! You're going to squeeze my stuffing out at this rate!
"This is my character, Ray!" Lucy yelled. Ray cut off mid-tirade with a startled look on his face, as Lucy tossed me up in the air, and pulled her hammer around, gripping it like she wanted to smash it into Ray's stupid face.
Which I was wholly in support of. My own stupid-face-smashing attempt had successfully derailed the conversation, but hadn't done nearly as much damage as I'd have liked. I gained a little altitude and started circling above Lucy.
"This is how I want to play! I did a quest the other day with another melee player, and we had no problems! I'll learn some of those stupid pixie dust skills or whatever if you think it will help later on, but me and Mr. Familiar are doing just fine otherwise and DON'T NEED FIXING!"
Ray was looking at Lucy like she'd grown a second head. Was this the first time she'd ever actually talked back to him or something?
Huh, actually maybe it was. What a weird thing to throw down over. Not that I was complaining, since if she switched characters I'd basically cease to exist unless she decided to play the Sprite-born again sometime. Which would throw a major crimp in my nascent plans to find some way out of this mess by leveraging Witchy.
"What's gotten into you, Luce?" said Ray. "This isn't like you."
I swore I could hear Lucy's teeth grinding. "Yes. It. Is! What will convince you to actually give me a chance to do some real quests instead of passing judgement based on killing diddle gribblins?"
"Look, it's not about—"
But Lucy didn't let him finish. "Fine! Fight me! You're a level above me at this point, right? So if I'm such a liability, it should be an easy win, right?"
"Flick, whatever, have it your way!"
Aw yeah, player-versus-player in the house!