Silver Suns Chapter 03

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.

 

Silver Suns Chapter 02

Chi hummed to himself as he walked up the small hill. There were fewer trees than the last time he’d been by this road, but he paid it no mind. His only goal was to pick more herbs on his way to the city where he would sell the herbs and find a magician to lift the rest of his curse. He cast out a bit of magic to check for monsters before heading to the Etsic he spied right off the road. “Just a moment, Luna! I’m going to grab some herbs. I think I see some berries, too!”

He took out his pocket knife and carefully cut the Etsic’s flowers. If he was careless, the flowers would live but the rest of the plant would die. The flowers might regrow by the time he headed back and he could sell some in a town on the way home. He pulled out a small pouch from his shirt pocket and put the blooms into it before imbuing the bag with a protective spell. He couldn’t have the flowers getting crushed in his pack now, could he? He licked his lips when he saw the berries in the bush next to the flowers. He felt as though he hadn’t eaten in ages. I wish I could hunt well… these berries would make a great sauce with some roasted Burick.

GRAAWRRRRRRRR!

He jumped when he heard the roar. A monster? HERE? Oh god, is it the same monster those heroes were killing? How are there more of them, I’m pretty sure hundreds of them have been killed already. He backed away from the bush as Luna lept to his side. Her eyes were shining in excitement. “Stay back, Chi, I’ll fight it.”

Luna was giddy with excitement. The mob in front of them had the words Elite Burick over its head. It was only level 9, but she knew that elite mobs were stronger than regular ones and tended to drop gear. Chi was pale as he backed away onto the road. It was the biggest Burick he’d ever seen in his life – Luna had to be crazy! It was five times her size! He stood there with his mouth agape as Luna jumped around and stabbed at it with her sword. He let out a yelp when the Burick hit her with his giant paw and she flew back 10 feet. He froze – of course he had to go help her, hero or not, she was just a girl, but fear kept him in place. She stumbled back up as she wiped blood from the edge of her mouth. Luna eyed the Elite Burick as it started shuffling towards her with his arms up in the air. She’d killed twenty regular Buricks for a quest and knew it would bring its arms down to try to smash her. She waited for it reach her before she dashed behind it and brought down her sword into its back. It let out a pained roar but she knew she had it – its HP bar was down to half already. She yanked out her sword and jumped backwards. It turned slowly and let out another roar. Oh, shit. Apparently some of the Elite Buricks had a skill the regular didn’t – its roars could spawn regular Buricks. She realized too late that she should have stunned it during its roar.

Chi screamed when he saw the regular Buricks spawn. He could barely fight up to three Buricks at a time – there were five surrounding Luna, not including the big one! He forced his legs to move as he ran towards Luna to try to pull her away from the fight. He was a few feet away when flames erupted below the Buricks and the regular Buricks fell dead.

“Hell yeah!” Luna glanced at the player that had interrupted the fight. What the hell, this is my mob… whatever, at least I won’t have to spawn at the graveyard. She darted towards the Elite Burick and continued to slash at it with quick movements, dodging its paws. Parts of the Burick were singed as the other player threw fireballs at it. Chi stood in shock, watching as they brought down the beast. As it fell to the ground, he ran to Luna. “Are you okay?” His hands were shaking as he hovered over her. Luna grinned at him. “Yeah, I’m fine. I should eat though.”

He nodded. “I’ll cook some of this Burick meat. The berries will make a good sauce if we roast it.”

Luna’s eyes sparkled. You can eat the meat from this thing? Meat!! I hope it tastes good!

The player who aided Luna sauntered over. “You okay there? You woulda been toast if I didn’t help!”

Luna frowned. “I would’ve been fine. But thank you anyways.”

“I’m Liolac. You’re a warrior? I’m a wizard! So much cooler.”

Luna didn’t respond as she turned the Burick over. Where’s my loot? Oh, there it is.A chest was glistening under the Burick’s body. She licked her lips as she opened it. Be a sword, be a sword, please be a sword! Damnit.

She pulled out the staff and necklace. Wth am I going to do with a staff? Let’s see the stats on the necklace… Well, at least I can use this…

Her hp and attack would go up a bit with this necklace, but the magic power on the staff was useless to her. She turned to Liolac. “You want this?”

He pressed it with this finger to look at the stats. “Heck yeah! If you don’t mind, of course.”

His feigned humility made Luna’s lips twitch. How cute. He must be young. “Here. My friend is going to cook this mob if you want to join.”

Liolac was practically drooling as he took the staff. “Yeah, sure. I haven’t tried any of the food in the game yet. I heard it’s really good if you get ingredient tasting to a high level.”

Luna frowned. “A high level? So the food won’t taste good if ingredient tasting is low?”

Liolac nodded as he sat down. “The food just tastes all right if you don’t level it enough. It’s basically the cooking craft skill in other games. My brother started the game before me and he didn’t pick it up until level 50. Says food tastes like sandpaper if you don’t even pick up the skill. Tasteless pudding when you first start leveling it. People with high level ingredient tasting can sell their food for pretty good money because people want to have better tasting food.”

Luna eyed Chi as he began cutting up the Elite Burick corpse. She wondered how an NPC’s cooking would taste.

 

“Oh my god what level are you?! How did you get your ingredient tasting skill so high? This tastes soooo goooood.”

Luna winced. Liolac’s table manners were… lacking, to put it lightly. She had to agree, though. The food was melt in your mouth delicious.

“Level…? Ingredient tasting skill?” Chi didn’t understand what Liolac was saying. “I don’t understand… I grew up cooking for my siblings, so I’m a little better than average.”

Liolac stared at him with his mouth open. Luna turned her eyes away. Ew.

“You know real life skills don’t apply in here right? You could be a world class chef in real life but your food’ll taste terrible if you don’t level your ingredient tasting…”

Chi wondered if Liolac was crazy. “What do you mean real life? This is real life. And I’m far from a world class chef.”

Luna giggled. “Liolac, Chi is an NPC. I think he’s some kind of real event quest. This game is really awesome. Doesn’t he seem so real?”

Game? NPC? What? Chi had thought Luna was crazy when she’d decided to fight the giant Burick, but now he was sure. They’re both crazy.

Liolac looked at Chi with confusion in his eyes. “My brother didn’t mention anything like this… He doesn’t have a dialog box or anything. All I see is his name, just like a player.”

Luna nodded. “When I first ran into him, he was a normal NPC. Then he… glitched out or something and his dialog box disappeared, his name color changed, he started moving around and stuff. He did give me some quests though. I’m wondering if he’s some kind of special escort NPC.”

Liolac nodded. “Okay… that makes sense. I think.”

Chi shrugged. Heroes are crazy.

 

Luna’s HP recovered as she ate and she noticed that her stamina was going up as well. This is great. I didn’t have to spend any mats to make HP or stam tonics.

Once they finished, they got back up and started heading towards the city. Liolac suggested making a party and Luna agreed – until she got a new weapon or some new armor, she would probably need the help. Definitely an annoying NPC escort quest. He keeps stopping to get herbs. Ugh. They ran into some more mobs, but no Elites. Luna was getting antsy. The game was moving so slowly, she’d expected to hit level 20 at the very least before going to bed and at this rate, she wouldn’t even hit 15. Liolac seemed not to mind the slow pace as he whistled and teleported forward periodically.

“HEY! There’s a shiny plant here! I wonder if it’s valuable?”

Chi jogged forward and grabbed Liolac before he could touch the plant. “Don’t! That’s not a plant!!”

“Eeeeeh? But – “

ROOOAAAAARRRRR!! The small plant glowed brighter and grew to a towering size. “Oh, shit.” Liolac and Luna both froze before the giant monster.

Elite Level 18 Perrenis

They both had the same thought. We gotta run.

Chi sighed. Perrenis were known to chase you for miles – he was sure the heroes would escape, but he wouldn’t make it out alive without sacrificing one of his more valuable herbs. Luna grabbed his arm and started running. “There’s no point in running. Can you keep it busy for a little bit?”

Luna gulped. It was an elite with 8 levels on her… Would she be able to survive? “Liolac… let’s try keeping it busy.”

“Are you crazy? We need to run! Even with two of us, that thing’s name is RED and 8 levels above us. We’re gonna die!”

“Just keep dodging it.”

“Easy for you to say, you’re a warrior! I’m a magician – I have a base of 2 defense and 0 evade!”

At level 10, they were both too low to have even received any skill points. They were both stuck with their base stats. “I’ll tank it, just distract it when it looks like I’m in trouble!”

I partied with the wrong warrior. The graveyard’s so far… I should have set my graveyard at the last town I was in. He hadn’t expected to die before reaching the first major city since he killed most mobs with one or two hits at his level. “Fine! But if I die, you owe me some silver or something!”

Luna rolled her eyes as she ran back towards the monster. “All right, just back me up!”

Chi hunched over his bag, mumbling to himself. “Fraxina… fraxina… I know i had some somewhere… “ He almost teared up as he thought of the money he was losing. Obviously, it was better than dying but it was one of the more valuable herbs he’d found when foraging. “Found it!”

He grabbed the surprisingly grubby looking plant and ran towards the monster where Luna was barely dodging its attacks. Liolac was standing afar, periodically throwing fireballs at it even as he fought his instinct to run like hell. Chi threw the plant at the Perrenis and cursed as the Fraxina fell to the ground. Luna screeched. “Seriously?! That’s your plan? We should have run!”

Chi yelled back, “I missed! Give me a moment!”

He dove to the ground to avoid a swinging limb and grabbed the Fraxina. He ran a few feet away, grabbing a rock on the ground. He tied it to the Fraxina and threw it into the monster’s mouth.

The Perrenis froze and glowed. It looked like it was collapsing within itself and Luna let out a sigh of relief. Okay, looks like Chi does know what he’s doing.

Luna and Liolac stepped forward towards Chi, who had collapsed to the ground with a groan. “Hey, heroes. Sometimes these things turn into magical items to sell. Let’s see if anything happened.”

Luna and Liolac’s eyes sparkled. Magical items? Yeeees!

The glowing had died down and they walked towards the item. “Momocha? Momo! Momocha!

Wtf is this thing.

There was a small… blob-like thing in front of them with big sparkling eyes. It was a sort of pretty, light shade of brown, almost like coffee with a lot of milk. Is that why it says mocha??

Chi smiled. “Well, you can’t sell this creature but it’ll choose an owner. It’s called a Meekokat. Much cuter than the Perrenis, isn’t it?”

Luna poked it with a finger. It was squishy. “What does it do?”

“It will pick up useful items for its owner and serve as storage. In the right circumstances they can aid you in battle. Many magicians seek to tame Meekokats because they are pretty rare but hard to tame. If they form from a Perrenis, though, they imprint onto someone nearby and there’s no need to tame them. Looks like this one’s name is Momocha.”

Was this like a Pokemon? Could it only say its name?

Momocha hungry!” The creature chomped down on Luna’s finger. “You’re lucky, Luna! It looks like she likes you!”

“What does it eat?”

“I think they like fruit. I still have some berries left from when we cooked the Burick. Here, give her some.”

Luna pulled her finger from Momocha’s mouth and took the berries from Chi. She held out her hand towards Momocha, who promptly enveloped Luna’s entire hand, making her yelp in surprise.

Chi laughed, saying, “Don’t worry, they can’t hurt you. Meekokats are hard to destroy or tame, but they’re harmless. They’re also toothless.”

Luna pulled out her hand. “Ew, there’s spit all over my hand… “

Momocha smiled brightly, “Yum, thanky Luna! Momocha happy!

Luna wiped her hand on her pants. “Uh… you’re welcome, Momocha…”

Liolac pouted next to them. “How come she didn’t come to me? I’m already running out of inventory space! I need that!”

 

Silver Suns – Chapter 01

Everyday… every goddamn hour – sometimes even more often than that, I do the same thing over and over again. Some asshole with ridiculously colored hair and a shiny weapon comes up to me and I repeat my lines as I must:

“So, you’re the fabled hero, eh? Wonder if you’re actually as strong as they say? There’s a monster up in the mountains and I can’t take my wares to the city! Destroy the monster for me and I’ll reward you!”

Without fail, every single “hero” comes back with the monster’s head and I give them some silver for their troubles. The problem? I’m not made of money! I really do need to cross the mountain to sell this stuff but for some reason I’m stuck here, day in, day out, making these assholes richer while my siblings are probably starving at home, wondering where their big brother is.

 

Two months. I’ve been stuck here for TWO MONTHS. I left home overjoyed with the rare herbs I’d found – I knew I’d be able to feed my family for a year or more if I sold them at the city. Thankfully the herbs stayed fresh due to the magic I imbued into them but seriously?! Two months?! What kind of curse has befallen me?! I want to see my little siblings, heck, I wouldn’t mind seeing that deadbeat I call my father at this point.

Ugh. Another “hero.” At least this one doesn’t have stupid pink or blue hair. First “normal” looking one I’ve seen in weeks. Every time they try talking to me I try not to respond, but each second I resist results in excruciating pain. I’ve been practicing with each “hero” that comes by and I’m getting more used to the pain. The longest I’ve held out so far is ten seconds. Let’s see if I can push it longer this time.

She’s saying the same line they all say:

“Hey, you seem to be in trouble, is something wrong?”

I held my breath, trying not to regurgitate the cursed words. One… two… three… four… five…. I exhaled when she moved away. For some reason, some of the “heroes” would walk away if I didn’t respond immediately and the pain and need to respond went away.

She came back though, they all did. One… two… three… four…….ten… eleven… twelve… Feels like my head will split… but would I die if I held out longer? The pain made me think yes, but would that be so bad? Maybe my goods would be returned to be family and I would be free from this hell… Fourteen… and the world went black.

 

What the… is this some kind of bug? Or a special event quest…? But I’m only level 10…

Luna stood there staring at the NPC that had suddenly become unclickable and seemed to have fallen on his side, his image flickering. The new VR game had been released two months prior, boasting state of the art technology with more realism than any other VR game currently released. They had also boasted about their lack of bugs… Luna was only level 10! No way she was already encountering a bug – she’d shelled out a quarter of her paycheck for this game!

Do… Do I just move on to the next quest…? Luna sighed and opened up her options to report the bug. Might as well hope it gets fixed for the next player, I guess.

Her finger was hovering over the “Report Bug” button when Yu Chi stirred.

 

“Ugh… What the – “ Yu Chi fell silent as he realized he was on the ground. He jumped up in excitement. “YES! I’m FREE! I’m finally – “

He stopped shouting when he noticed Luna staring at him. She was pressing something in front of her frantically as she edged away.

This has to be a bug, an event wasn’t announced, I can’t click him… wth, why is the report bug button not working?!

Yu Chi wondered what she was pressing – there was a small rectangle in front of her and she kept pushing the same spot with her finger. “Hey, do you know what’s going on?”

Luna’s jaw dropped and she stopped moving. Did the NPC just ask her a question like a player? Without a dialog box? “Uh…” Smart, Luna. You are so goddamn smart.

“I’m Chi, Yu Chi. I was stuck there for a while but it looks like I can go home now! I don’t know if it’s something you did or what, but I’m free now, so thanks!” I’ll sell my herbs later – I need to make sure my family’s okay first.

Chi started down the road, shifting his pack over his shoulder. Luna stopped pressing the report bug button and watched as Chi walked down the road where she’d come from. Suddenly, Chi fell backwards. He got back up and dusted himself off before trying to walk forward again.

“WHAT THE HELL!!!” It was as though there was an invisible wall in front of him – every time he tried to step forward, he would fall back. He tried walking to the side but no matter how far he went with his hand along the “wall,” there didn’t seem to be an end. He turned around and jogged towards Luna.

I should keep moving… or log out. Yeah, I should log out for the night, I’ve obviously pushed myself too hard trying to level after work. Luna opened up her options again, her hands shaking, trying to log out before Chi reached her. Her finger hovered over “Log Out” but pressed “Settings” in her panic. Oh my God, Luna, wth.

“Hey, can you help me out?”

Luna let out a sigh of relief. This had to be a quest. Maybe the game’s “realism” was really that different from other games and this was the intro to the tech the game creators had boasted.

“Sure, Chi! What do you need?”

“Can you walk over there and see how far you can get?”

…A quest. This is a quest. A weird quest, but, I’m sure this is some kind of tutorial quest for the next section of the game. “Sure.”

Chi followed Luna as she walked down the road. She walked past the area Chi had been unable to and turned around when she heard a thud. Chi was on the ground again, but he didn’t get up this time. The frustrated yet sad look on his face made her pause although all she wanted to do was keep walking. She walked back to him.

“You okay, Chi?”

Chi looked up at her and she was shocked to see tears in his eyes. Damn, this game really is realistic. I guess it was worth the few hundred I had to shell out for it.

“I… I don’t understand. I have to go down this road to reach my town. My family’s waiting for me. I was stuck in that spot for two months – I was under a curse or something. I didn’t even know if there was a monster up there until the curse made me talk to some ‘hero’ and they brought me back the monster’s head. I kept having to give them the money I’d saved up on my way to the city and now I can’t go back home, it’s like there’s an invisible wall here, I need to get home, my family only has me to provide for them, my siblings will starve to death without me, oh my god, what am I going to do…” His eyes glazed over as the tears slowed. It would have been better if I’d died…

Luna held out her hand to him, indicating that he should take it and get up. “Why don’t I go to your town for you? I’ll tell your family that you ran into some trouble, but you’re okay and you can go sell your stuff for now or find someone to help you out with your situation.”

Chi nodded, sniffling. “Thank you. My family is in Chuna… our house is by the lake, if you ask someone near there for the Yu family home, they will show you where it is. Please take this to my siblings… it’s not much but they should be able to buy food for a month or so. Please don’t give it to my father. Give it to Chisa secretly, she’s my sister.”

Luna took the money and put it away carefully. Chuna was the starting town for the game, so her journey wouldn’t take her long, especially if she warped there. “I’ll be back in 10 minutes, Chi, so just sit tight, okay?”

Chi nodded and shuffled over to a tree to sit under it. “I’ll be right here, hero. Thank you.”

She gave him a smile as she pulled up the map. “My name is Luna, Chi. I’ll be back soon.” With those words, she disappeared.

 

The lake… okay, looks like it’s in the south part of town. Luna ran towards the lake, wondering what her quest reward would be. She hoped it was new gear – she was still wearing the newbie stuff she’d spawned with. She clicked an NPC and was glad to see an option that said “Where is the Yu family house?” She clicked it and the NPC started walking away. She was lead to a small, wooden house that seemed to be falling apart.

She knocked on the door and a small girl answered the door. “Yes?”

Luna couldn’t click her. Definitely a part of the weird tutorial quests. “I’m looking for Chisa?”

The girl nodded. “I am Chisa. Can I help you?”

“I ran into your brother, Chi. He wanted me to let you know that he’s okay and – “

“WHO IS IT, BRAT?” A loud voice echoed from inside the house. Chisa turned and told her father that it was a stranger at the door. “TELL THEM TO GO AWAY IF THEY’RE NOT GOING TO BUY ONE OF YOU.”

Chisa winced and nodded as she stepped out of the house, closing the door behind her. “I’m sorry, my father… is unwell. You met my brother?”

Luna cleared her throat and nodded. The booming voice had sounded so angry… it made her nervous. “Chi ran into some trouble, but he’s okay. He’s not sure when he’ll be able to come home and he wanted me to give you this.” She pulled out the small pouch of coins Chi had given her. Chisa took it gingerly from her, eyes filling with tears. “Brother… this is probably all of the money he had left. Is he really okay? He’s not hurt?”

Luna shook her head. “He’s fine. I’m going to go back to him soon. I’ll make sure he gets home, okay?”

Why did I say that? Maybe it’s a prompt from the game? Chisa is so little… she can’t be more than 10 years old. Luna looked at the small child wiping away her tears. She gave Luna a bright smile. “Thank you, hero! I trust you! Please make sure my brother stays safe.” Chisa threw her arms around Luna in a hug. She barely came up to Luna’s waist. Luna found herself patting Chisa’s head and smiling. “Don’t you worry. Make sure you and your siblings eat well.” She didn’t have much as a level 10 character, but she pulled out another pouch from her inventory screen. “Use this to get some candy for yourself and your siblings okay? I’m going to go back to your brother now.”

She stepped back and waved to Chisa as she walked away. Chisa waved back, smiling as she clutched the coin pouches to her chest. Glancing at the house again, she pulled up her map and prepared to warp to the town closest to where she’d left Chi.

 

She found Chi still sitting under the tree she’d left him at. “I gave Chisa the money and let her know you’re okay. Have you been – “

Chi threw his arms around her, sniffling. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Luna froze. Chisa hugging her was one thing, but Chi was a male. An NPC, but a male. She was not used to this kind of physical contact and felt uncomfortable. “Uhm… you’re welcome. But could you let go?”

Chi jumped back, embarrassed. “Oh, sorry. I wasn’t thinking. But thank you so much. I think I’ll head to the city… I’m sure I’ll be able to find a magician to help me back home after I sell my herbs.”

Luna nodded, blushing. “Will you be okay on your own?” I promised Chisa I’d make sure he’s okay…

Chi nodded. “I’m used to the journey to the city. Thank you again, Luna.”

Chi started heading up north, giving Luna a quick wave. Luna realized something… Where’s my reward?!

 

Luna realized that Chi was heading the same way she was. Her map indicated another quest north of them and she jogged to catch up to Chi. “Hey, Chi… is there something you’re supposed to give me?”

She was embarrassed that she was asking an NPC for a reward, but without any indicator from the game, what was she supposed to do?

“Oh! I’m sorry, Luna! I should probably give you some kind of reward for helping me. I… I’m sorry I gave all of my silver to my sister… I have some herbs if you would like? It’s not much, but it’s all I have, I’m sorry…”

Chi put down his pack and opened it. “I have some Cynth, Liac, Waterbloom…”

Wth… what kind of quest reward is this. The herbs are good and everything but…  She stood there staring into the pack. There were bundles of herbs glowing lightly, but she was confused. She’d never encountered a game where the quest reward was given like this. Chi was still rambling on about the herbs in his pack. “I guess I’ll take some Waterbloom?” I’ll make some health tonics, I guess. She’d picked up potion making as a craft and had stupidly picked up ingredient tasting as a side skill. Everyone could pick up cooking but there was a higher probability of your food tasting horrible if you didn’t pick up ingredient tasting. She didn’t want to experience her horrible cooking in the game and had impulsively picked ingredient tasting instead of herb picking. She knew she could pick up herb picking later when she hit level 35 and a secondary side skill slot unlocked so she would do that later.

She put the herbs into her inventory and paid no attention to the fascination in Chi’s eyes as she did so. “You must be a powerful magician to be able to store your belongings in such a way, Luna.”

She shrugged. Did the game come with some kind of weird flattery function?