Mr. Familiar

by

EO Tenkey

Quest 43: Mr. Familiar Wins the Battle and Loses the War

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It took a while, but at long last Lucy successfully worked her way through the health pool of the first of the monsters. A final smack of the hammer slammed its head into the tree, and it flopped down bonelessly to the forest floor.

"Yes!" Lucy shouted. "Take that, you bug-eyed monstrosities!"

The second of the monsters meanwhile appeared to have triggered some new behavior routine, because it dropped down to all fours and backed off away from the tree a few paces.

Lucy pouted. "Nuts, I was hoping to take both of them out while we were safe in the tree. Oh well."

Yeah, nothing for it. Now that we had a reasonably safe method for dealing with them, though, we could retire through the tree tops and come back again tomorrow—or, you know, launch ourselves out of the tree hammer-first, because this was Lucy I was talking about. As the invisible barrier slammed into me from behind and carried me off my branch, I resigned myself to a tad of strenuous combat.

The monster rose up to meet Lucy in midair, but she was just a hair faster and caught the claw that was aiming at her head with an Icy Grip-empowered hammer. Sadly, the chilled debuff failed to take effect, but the blow knocked the thing's claws off course and temporarily blinded it in a shower of ice followed shortly thereafter by Lucy herself.

She bounced off the thing's chest in a rather uncoordinated display, but I didn't have time to pay attention because I was winging past at high velocity, having finally gotten my wings under me midway through the air and adding a bit to the initial momentum introduced by the invisible barrier.

I slammed straight into the thing's mouth—fortunately it wasn't shaped quite right to allow me to get stuck—and I swear I bounced off the back of its throat. This third impact was one too many, and sent it toppling over backward. I tried to fly free, but got my fluff caught on its teeth, so I went along for the ride.

The monster twisted and bucked as it hit the earth and managed to get its feet under itself in surprisingly short order. It was then distracted for a moment as it tried to hock me out of its mouth, and that was enough time for Lucy to recover from her awkward dismount and proceed with the whacking.

These monsters were fast, but Lucy had the initiative from the first surprise attack out of the tree, and it never quite caught up to her. Though it lasted longer than I expected—and Lucy had a close call when it got a hit in, forcing her to use her regeneration skill—the thing finally fell silent to the forest floor.

"YES! We did it!" Lucy grabbed me and spun me around in a bear hug. "Way to go Mr. Familiar, that was awesome!"

I expected her to start looting the corpses, but instead she sat right down on one with me still clutched in her arms and her hammer lying on the ground nearby.

"Ah, that was really satisfying. I'm so glad I was able to actually kill those stupid things."

Uh, what? Lucy, what's going on? I squirmed around so I could see her face and pushed back against her arms a bit. She obligingly loosened her grip so that I was perched in her lap instead of squished against her chest.

"So, look, Mr. Familiar. I've been meaning to say this for a while, but…I think I'm going to stop playing."

I froze. What? Stop playing? I mean, I get that this whole episode had been pretty frustrating, but come on we just beat the final boss, such as it were, and I'll bet we could have started making headway out of the forest pretty soon…

"So the thing is, I opened another account so I could play a bit with someone I met the day I got you but never got around to teaming up with, and it's been super fun! I mean, I love playing with you, too, but there's just not that much to do stuck out here in the forest, and it's been getting kind of frustrating. And two accounts is just too expensive…"

A second account? What? Why wouldn't you just create an alt character…right, this was Lucy I was talking about. Of course she created a second account in order to play with an alt. Or maybe the full immersion version only allowed a single character per account? I'd give even odds to both those options, actually.

"But, I didn't want to just stop. I mean, I remember how upset you were when I didn't play for a while, and I guess a second account isn't going to kill me…I mean, yeah, it's a lot of money, but I could probably make it work…anyway, what I'm trying to say is, will you be alright if I close this account? I asked support, and they won't transfer companion animals, and I really don't want to lose you but…what should I do? Should I keep this account open and play with you every so often, even if I'm spending most of my time in the other account?"

My gut instinct was to immediately cheep YES! But…I could imagine exactly what would happen if I did. Increasingly infrequent play sessions. Lucy, just grinding away at the game out of obligation, throwing who-knew-how-much money away that might be important for her future. Maybe we'd get out of the woods soon. Surely. But then there'd be the game moderators to avoid, Blocadoc's computer science friends trying to figure out what made me tick, Witchy breathing down our necks and possibly throwing up more roadblocks—I was pretty much convinced our current predicament could be laid at Witchy's feet.

Did I want that sort of existence? More importantly, did I want to do that to Lucy?

I—couldn't do it. I wanted to live, but that wouldn't be living. Diddle that truck! Flick that worthless excuse for a god! And flick this trash of a profanity filter while I was at it!

I buried my face in Lucy's chest and squeezed her for all I was worth.

Cheep. Cheep.

Her arms encircled me, and she squeezed right back, one hand gently swirling my fluff. "Really? I can close the account? You'll be okay?"

No. No, no I won't.

Cheep.

Lucy's breath warmed and ruffled the fluff on the top of my head as she bent down and heaved a big sigh. "Thank you, Mr. Familiar. When I'm a high enough level, I'll come and try to find you, okay?"

That—wasn't how the game worked, Lucy. Maker was pretty clear on that point.

"Thanks, Fluff-kins." One hand left my side. She must have been opening her interface. "I really loved playing with you."

Scribble, there wasn't enough time! Already I could feel her softening, starting to fade out. Look, Lucy, I couldn't afford to admit it to myself, especially since I'm stuck as a worthless Peck-Peck and have absolutely no chance in the world and am, you know, dead, but I think I love y—

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A note from EO Tenkey

Aaaaaah, please don't murder me! I promise the epilogue is dropping in the next few minutes!

And no, I didn't expect things to end here, either, but my characters once again surprised me.


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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