They had passed some other players on their way to the city and every single one had asked where they’d gotten Momocha. Even within the city, some players stopped them to ask. Momocha was pretty cute and it was rare for a level 10 to have such an item. Luna realized how lucky she was and was glad she’d listened to Chi. This escort quest is so worth it so far. I bet I only got Momocha because of it.
They went with Chi to the Magician’s Guild building. Both Luna and Liolac were eager to get some quests from the Magician’s guild as they had only run into one quest on the way to the city and it had given them some paltry food items as a reward and barely any experience. They went straight to the quests board as Chi went to a magician.
“Oh! Let’s do this one! It’s for level 11 but we should be able to do it pretty easily, especially if we do it together! Oh, and this one! Luna, Luna, this one gives a gold as a reward! Let’s do this one!”
Luna giggled. Liolac reminded her of her little brother back home. So energetic and cheerful… and slightly annoying. If his hair wasn’t a bright green, she might have mistaken his character for her brother’s. Lance hated the color green. “Sure, let’s grab them all. I think they’re mostly in the same area.”
She pulled up her map after accepting the quests. “Yup, looks like they’re all east of the city. Let’s get our reward from Chi and go.”
When they found Chi, he was freaking out. He turned to them, pale and trembling. “What are these boxes in front of the magicians? They keep saying the same things and the words in the box are the same as what they’re saying! I don’t understand what’s happening!”
Luna paled. He could see the dialog boxes? And he was confused? The quest was becoming a little too weird for her.
“Chi, calm down. Here, press this.” Liolac took Chi’s hand and pushed it against one of the dialog boxes. It flashed and the magician stated, “You need to speak to the Leader. He can help you.”
Chi paled even more. “W-what’s going on? I don’t understand…”
Liolac shrugged. “Next part of the quest, probably. Let’s go find the leader!”
After speaking with several Magician NPCs, they found themselves in front of a big, metal door. “I guess he’s in here? Let’s knock.”
“You want to go home?” The Magician’s Leader was a tiny being with ears like a panther’s. He had no tail, but his eyes were panther-like. He barely came up to Luna’s knees.
Chi nodded furiously. “I tried to go home but there was an invisible wall. I’d been cursed, I don’t know by what, and two months passed before I was free from it. This hero was kind enough to pass along a message to my family for me, but I would really like to go home to my them.”
The Leader sighed. “I will be honest with you. I am not sure how I can help. My entire Guild has been cursed as well. I have not figured out how to break my people from this curse. I thought that I alone was free from the curse until I discovered that I could not leave this room. My people speak to me as though they are puppets, I feel no hunger, no thirst. You are the first visitors who have spoken to me of your own free will.”
This quest is getting really, really weird. Luna fidgeted as she stood there staring at the tiny magician. Liolac seemed not to care as he wandered about the room, looking at the various magical items placed around the room.
“But Great Magician, there must be a way! If I was able to free myself from the curse, there must be a way for me to get home, a way for the Guild to be free from the curse!”
The Leader nodded slowly. “There must. But how is it that a merchant such as yourself was able to break free from the curse while my magicians cannot? I have tried again and again, casting spell after spell, and I cannot free myself. There must be something special about you, merchant. The first thing we need to do is find what is so special about you.”
“But Great Magician, I am just a merchant! I am not even a rich merchant – I forage for herbs and sell them in the city two or three times a year to care for my family. I have little magic, mostly for preserving my herbs that I learned from the village shaman. I am so average that I may as well be a pebble on the side of the road!”
The Leader laughed. “I may have agreed with you before this curse, Chi. Let me place my hands on you and see if my magic can detect anything.”
Chi nodded, biting his lower lip. The Leader floated up and put his hands on Chi’s brown hair. A black, glowing light enveloped Chi. “Nothing. There is… nothing that I can detect. I do not detect magic, or even life from you. This is impossible.”
He floated towards a bookshelf and pulled out a book. He flipped through the pages calmly as Chi grew frantic with each passing second. “Ah, here it is. You are an anomaly, Chi. You are human but not. You are life, and death, and nothing.”
“W-what does that mean?”
“Who knows? Although this might explain why you alone were able to free yourself from the curse. You must journey to SunYan and meet with my master. He will have answers, I am sure.”
“SunYan? The capital is a week’s journey!”
“I am sure these heroes will accompany you. Your meeting was not by chance. The Gods have a hand in this, and perhaps this is a test… For you, for me, for our world, I do not know. I will continue to research this curse and your… situation here. I have not received any replies, but I have found that I can send letters. I will inform you of any information I discover.”
SunYan? There’s no guarantee I will make it there alive… I barely have any magic and Luna and Liolac might not stay with me… What am I going to do…?
They were quiet at the apothecary’s. Liolac was busy looking at everything around him and Luna felt uncomfortable bringing up the situation with Chi. The fact that he was a normal NPC, even an NPC with a special event quest… was seeming less and less likely. It’s not like he could become sentient… I should report this bug. Luna pulled up her options and pressed the “Report Bug” button. Nothing happened, just like earlier when she had first run into Chi. I’ll report it later on the website. The NPC is bugged, the report bug button is bugged… Great first day of the game.
Chi was haggling with the apothecary. “You want 10 silver per Cynth bundle? As fresh as this is, I can only give you 5 silver per!”
Chi sighed. This man always tried to undercut him. “10 Silver, Nong. I know you sell these for at least 20 silver per bundle. Come on!”
Nong grumbled. “The economy is bad! Not many people are buying! I’ve had to cut my prices – I will barely make a profit if I buy these from you for 5 silver!”
“Do you think I am blind, Nong? There are more heroes running around than ever and you’re trying to tell me the economy is bad? 10 silver, Nong.”
“I can do 7 and no more, Chi. I have family, too.”
Chi grinned. They always did this dance and he knew he would always win out. “Okay, 7 silver per bundle. I also found some Fraxina, 75 silver per bundle, Nong. I have 3 bundles.”
Nong squawked. “75 silver?! Are you trying to rob me?!”
Chi went to the bank with Luna and Liolac. If he was going to be journeying to SunYan, it was better to leave most of his earnings in his account. 30 gold from his haul this time – it was the most gold he’d ever put into his secret account in one go. He wondered if Luna would be willing to go to his family periodically for him to give them money. He knew if he gave them a lump sum, his father would find it and spend it on booze and gambling. He decided to wait and see if the heroes would be willing to journey to SunYan with him first.
“Luna, Liolac. As thanks, I would like to treat you to a meal at the tavern.”
He was hoping feeding them and giving them alcohol would get them to agree to escort him to SunYan. He could probably pull the gold from his savings and hire a mercenary to escort him, but he had no way of knowing if the mercenary would abandon him before their goal. He had a feeling if Luna and Liolac agreed, they would stay with him to the end.
“Actually, it’s pretty late, I should go to bed.” Luna somehow felt like the invitation to dine was a trap. She didn’t want to get more mixed up with the weird, bugged out NPC.
Liolac raised an eyebrow. “Where are you from? It’s like, 8pm for me. Chi, I want to eat! Let’s go without Luna!”
Luna winced. She didn’t feel right leaving Liolac to his own devices since it seemed that he hadn’t noticed that Chi was abnormal. She had planned to report Chi on the website and go to bed, but it looked like she’d have to do that later.
“Wait! Let me go too! I changed my mind!” She jogged after them.
I knew it. I knew iiiiiit. I should’ve logged off. Either this is the longest escort quest ever or this is the buggiest game I’ve ever played. Maybe both. Luna was chewing her food as slowly as possible to avoid answering Chi’s question. Liolac just nodded vigorously as he stuffed more food into his mouth.
Chi’s stomach plummeted. Luna looked like she wanted to get as far away from him as possible. He knew he would need both Luna and Liolac if he wanted to make it to Sunyan alive. Except for the sounds coming from Liolac’s enthusiastic eating and Momocha’s excited exclamations, the table was silent.
“Luna, Luna! Let’s SungYan!”
Luna looked at the little adorable blob in horror. What the heck was this thing saying?!
“Momocha get stronger in SungYan!! Super duper strongo!!!”
Luna silently willed it to stop jabbering. Chi looked excited. “Yes! In SunYan, there are shamans who can help you evolve Meekokats!! Please, Luna! I will help you gather herbs, I will cook for you, just please help me get to SunYan. I can use magic but I have no battle skills or experience other than small monsters I meet on the way to this city. With you and Liolac by my side, I know that I will be able to reach SunYan safely!”
Luna pulled up her map and searched for SunYan. It was in the middle of an area that was for level 40s and higher. It looked like questing and leveling would naturally take her to SunYan but she wasn’t sure if she wanted to take this quest from Chi. She was still getting weird vibes from the NPC – it had to be a bug. She recalled Chisa’s earnest expression as she bid her farewell, entrusting her brother to Luna.
Luna swallowed her food and sighed. “All right. But I really do need to get some sleep. We’ll leave in the morning. Liolac, don’t leave without me.”
She sent him a friend request as he nodded. “I got homework to do anyways. Parents’ll take my VR system away if I let my grades slip.”
Yup, definitely young. “All right, we’ll meet here tomorrow around… 8AM system time?”
At least it was the weekend. And she could still message support to fix Chi. And that magician’s guild leader.
Luna took off her VR headset. “Ugh, that was a nightmare. What the hell is wrong with this game?”
She climbed out of the VR system and walked over to her computer. After typing in the website address, she wondered if other people had encountered the same bug. She opened a new tab and went into the forums to search for an answer.