Mr. Familiar

by

EO Tenkey

Quest 27: Mr. Familiar Storms the Castle

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Peering down from Lucy's shoulder, I shamelessly spied on her messages.

Hey there, player! Game Moderator SirWillington, at your service!

We recently received a report that your cosmetic companion animal was behaving erratically. Please contact me at your earliest convenience, and I would be happy to come review your case!

—[GM] SirWillington

Flicking Ray! This was totally a parting shot from him! I'll bet when he was messing around with his interface instead of fighting plorgs yest—on that last quest he was totally reporting me to the moderators! I almost hoped we'd run into him again so I could hump the ever-living flick out of his face!

Although, I was kind of curious why the GM needed Lucy to contact him. Were they not able to detect when players were online or something? And weren't there usually logs and such tracking the things going on in the game? Curious.

"That's weird, I never filed any report about you, Fluff-kins," said Lucy. "Oh, well, I'll just let him know you're fine."

What? No! Don't do that, just ignore the guy! Cheep cheep!

Sadly, Lucy was apparently out of practice with our mind meld, because she completely ignored me and shot off a quick message to the GM stating that she was happy with her Peck-Peck. Oh, well. Hopefully that didn't come back to bite me in the snazz.

She then popped open the two messages from Blocadoc—the first of which was just asking her when she would next be available to quest, and the second of which was checking in to see if everything was alright—and shot off a response to let the good Doc know that she was back in action. Good enough; guess I could scratch that off the bucket list.


We were in the Sprite-born starting town where Lucy was looking to restock her potions and such. As she walked down the street, I gave the town the old once-over, but…well, it was a bunch of Sprite-born in starting equipment. Honestly, nothing had changed. Maybe there were a few more players on the streets than normal? Not that I could even say what constituted "normal," given how few times that I'd been here.

It was honestly a bit depressing. I hadn't really thought about how perfect Blocadoc was when we coincidentally ran into her, but I just knew that no one in this crowd of bog-standard, wand-toting Sprite-born was going to appeal to Lucy's love of bashing in heads. Even if her wonky build would have benefitted from having someone around with the standard Sprite-born crowd-control skills.

I mean, I was sure some of these were wonderful players! But without some sort of visual hook, how could I get Lucy to so much as greet them? She spent all that time exploring every nook and cranny of the dialog trees for every NPC she ran across, but I'd never seen her give a player other than Ray or Doc the time of day.

Lucy finished her shopping and headed back towards the edge of town. "Alright, Fluff-kins, let's knock out the next story quest!"

Guess rather than trying to find another human to keep her engaged it was time for me to try and step up my game helping her out.

I was oddly nervous.


Back in the forest en route to the start of the fifth story quest, I finally launched myself off of Lucy's shoulder and started limbering myself up. The fourth quest had given her quite a bit of grief solo, and I was certain the fifth quest was going to have a difficulty bump so she was going to need all the help I could provide.

Which was nice and all, but how was I actually going to help her out? I could intercept attacks, but doing that during the third quest had left me pretty well incapacitated for a bit, even if I hadn't sustained any actual physical damage, so far as I could tell. I could try to disrupt mobs the way I'd screwed with Ray; my dance moves appeared to grant me some ability to trip people up without having my own movement interrupted. The downside there was that I'd be stuck on the ground, so I wouldn't be able to keep track of the battle as a whole.

I'd love to be able to direct Lucy, but given our two-word communication skills, that didn't seem feasible. I might at best be able to call her attention to someone trying to flank or ambush her, but that was about it.

Hmm. It was a conundrum. I supposed I'd just have to take things as they came. It was a shame that I hadn't been able to draw aggro or attention from any of the plorgs before, though I supposed with my inability to get very far from Lucy I probably wouldn't be able to draw them sufficiently far away to make a difference even if it were possible.

Lucy stopped, and I flew down to perch on her shoulder again. Ah, looked like we'd arrived. I hadn't been able to remember what this quest involved, but when I followed the direction of Lucy's gawping a few details came rushing back.

We were standing in front of a fortress. A run-down fortress, admittedly, but a fortress, nonetheless.

The curtain wall was three or four times Lucy's height, and made of giant stone blocks. There were quite a few places where the mortar had crumbled and the stones had collapsed either inward or outward, but it was still impressive, particularly given the total lack of large stone structures in most of the Sprite-born lands. The area near the gaping, empty main gateway remained clear of trees for whatever reason, but looking along the wall it was obvious that the forest had well and truly encroached on the structure. Beyond the curtain wall we could spot a few free-standing walls and a lone tower that, against all odds, was still standing. I certainly wouldn't want to climb it, though.

"Where on earth did that come from?" Lucy muttered to herself.

Well, that was embarrassing; I couldn't remember. Was this one of the fragments of the Old World? Given the sheer size of the structure, it was likely. There were certainly impressive feats of architecture created by the Born Again races, but none of them went in for this particular aesthetic, and very few built to this scale. Plus the fact that it was in the Sprite-born lands suggested that it predated them.

What I did remember was that this quest was going to be a minor nightmare for Lucy. It was the first quest in this area where creatures affected by the Gloaming showed up, and the boss liked to spawn giant swarms of really fast little flickers. They barely had any health, but Lucy wasn't exactly the speediest character with that giant war hammer weighing her down. Once she ran out of Icy Grip charges, I suspected she was going to be in trouble.

Though before that…uh, Lucy, were we really going to waltz right in through the main gate? I mean, it's pretty clear we could easily sneak in if we just followed the wall in either direction.

Lucy strode forward, slinging out her war hammer. I took to the air as a plorg that neither of us had noticed in the shadow of the gate gave a squeal.

Yeah, I guess we were doing this.

Lucy took off at a run, and I arrowed through the air behind and above her. The plorg dropped to all fours and charged as shadows deeper within the gaping arch where the gate had once stood heralded an oncoming group of its friends.

As the plorg who had been playing sentry neared, Lucy spun to the side and let him charge right past. Whoa, nice footwork there!

I expected her to attack it, but she didn't pay it a second glance. Just kept pelting toward the gate. Oookay. I executed a quick circle through the air, barely keeping ahead of where I judged the invisible barrier to be, but it looked like the plorg was having trouble pulling out of its charge after its target suddenly juked him. It probably wouldn't be back in the fight for a little bit. I flapped a little harder to catch back up to Lucy and arrived just as she smashed an initial Icy Grip right into the feet of an approaching group of three plorgs within the shadow of the gateway.

The plorgs stumbled back, two out of three afflicted by the chill debuff, based on the blue tint that spread across their skin. The third was kitted out in actual pieces of armor, and it hefted a jagged sword as it recovered its footing just in time for me to fly straight into its face. I latched onto its snout and started pecking the ever-loving flick out of every soft place I could find. It didn't seem to be doing all that much damage, but boy was the plorg ever confused! Somehow, I didn't think the enemy logic routines had accounted for a companion animal suddenly showing up literally in their face. The dumb plorg was just standing here blinking at me as I pecked it repeatedly in the eye. Didn't even try to peel me off, and it seemed I'd somehow managed to break it out of its plan to attack Lucy. Interesting. Maybe it required line of sight to maintain an attack? I was pretty sure all it could see was pink floof and the point of my beak, at the moment.

I heard some meaty thwacks off to the side, and the squeal of a plorg meeting the wrong side of Lucy's hammer.

"Mr. Familiar!" she cried, and I threw myself upward, scrabbling at the plorg's face to gain some speed and altitude as I flapped wildly. I made it off just in time for his eyes to refocus on Lucy as her hammer slammed into his chest and sent him careening into the side wall, a dent in his chest plate.

She'd probably be fine for a second, but what about that first plorg? I cut a quick circle and sure enough the darn thing was charging back toward our little melee. I quickly estimated its trajectory, dove to the ground, and eyed its approaching bulk before spinning in place and starting to do my sliding dance move backward.

The plorg's front trotter-hand-thing slammed into my side, and I blithely danced on right into the path of its second front limb.

The plorg was less lucky. Its forward momentum suddenly arrested, it flipped up snazz-over-head and actually went flying through the air with a confused squeal. Lucy must have seen it coming out of the corner of her eye or something, because she kept the spin up from her most recent hammer strike against the armored plorg—who was apparently still in fighting shape—and slammed a perfect home run hit right in the center of the charging plorg's back with a spine-shattering crack!

Oooh, that had to have hurt. The flying plorg hit the dirt and lay still. I wasn't sure if it was stunned or dead, but I'd observed enough. I executed a quick partial front-flip and regained the air.

Lucy appeared to have sustained some damage in the brief time I was dealing with Mr. Chargey, and I was reasonably certain it was because one of the originally-chilled plorgs had been harassing her from the side while she fought with the sword-wielding one. Well, time to see if my first trick was a fluke or not.

I slammed into the face of the plorg, and just for variety started pelvic thrusting.

It was possibly more confused than the armored plorg had been. Where it had been an instant away from jumping Lucy from behind, now it was just standing there with a kind of dumb-struck look in its eyes. At least, I thought it might look like that, but it was hard to tell given how I was jamming my body repeatedly up against it.

"Mr. Familiar!" said Lucy again. Was it just me, or did she sound exasperated?

I tossed myself off the side of the plorg's snout, and Lucy introduced it to her hammer. A few seconds later I'd successfully regained the air, and Lucy was happily looting dead plorgs.

I alit on the ground nearby and peered deeper into the arch of the gateway. I didn't see any more enemies at the moment, and surely all the ruckus would have drawn them if they'd been in the gateway.

Guess we were in.

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A note from EO Tenkey

One of the downsides of automated enemies in PvE is they're only as capable as their programmer thought to make them. Break a few of the programmer's original assumptions, and what are the poor mobs to do? Glad Mr. Familiar has finally figured that out.

That moderator probably won't give him any problems at all.


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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