They both froze as Liolac’s voice rang throughout the house. Chi’s siblings were huddled behind him and he held a fireball in his hands.
“I dunno who the fuckyou are, but let go of her right now before I throw this at you.”
Yfel let go and Luna fell to her knees, coughing. Momocha let out a screech at Liolac.
“Lio! Kill!” Liolac raised an eyebrow. Momocha usually only addressed him when they were in battle out of excitement – he was the only one who went headlong into battle with her as Luna and Chi tended to be more cautious.
“I’m those brats’ father. You three, come here!” Chiarra, Chisa and Chiaki slowly began heading over to him when Liolac blocked them with his arm.
“Nuh-uh. No way you’re their dad. Luna, what the hell’s going on? You were taking too long so Chi got worried. Raza’s probably grilling him right now so we gotta get back quick.”
Luna rubbed her neck, coughing. “That’s their dad, Liolac. Unfortunately. I’m taking the kids.”
Liolac’s jaw dropped. “What?!”
Yfel growled. “I told you, bitch! You’re not taking my kids!”
“They’re not your kids, you asshole! Just because you provided DNA for them doesn’t mean that they’re yours.”
“No, we’ll stay, Luna! Please!”
Luna glanced at Chisa, who was trembling with her arms around her siblings. Chiarra was crying as she clung to her younger siblings and Chiaki’s eyes looked glazed, as though he was far away.
“No, Chisa. You’re not safe here and – “
She yelped and threw herself to the ground as Yfel swung a sword at her. She could tell that he had probably been a formidable warrior when he was younger but drinking and age had dulled his skills. She pulled her sword out of its latch and held it up to block his sword. She kicked out at this legs and rolled to her side.
“You don’t want to do this, Yfel. Just let us go.”
“You will show me respect!” He let out a yell and swung his sword again. She blocked it easily and yelled to Liolac to take the children out of harm’s way. Chisa and Chiarra struggled against him but Liolac managed to take them outside of the house. Yfel stumbled against the table, panting.
“Look! How much more gold do you want?! I was here when you yelled at Chisa that you were willing to sell your own fucking kids!”
Yfel’s eyes glinted. “They’re worth at least 100 gold each. They’re tainted by that whore’s blood but they have mine, too.”
“You want 300 gold?! Like hell I’ll pay that!”
“If you want that useless son of mine too, it’ll be 500!”
“He’s not even underaged! He’s 20 years old! Just take the 20 gold and the bracelets – you should be able to get at least 75 gold for those!” This had been the gold and items Chi had asked her to put into his bank account on her way back. She herself only had about 15 gold and maybe another 5 gold worth of gear that she could sell.
Yfel coughed as he leaned against his sword. “100 gold per child. 200 gold for the idiot. I won’t take a silver less.”
Luna held her sword out before her, wary of Yfel despite his seemingly calm demeanor at the moment. She didn’t feel right killing him, partly because he was still Chi’s father and partly because she had no idea how killing an “NPC” would affect the game. She had to admit to herself that the latter was more worrying than the former. She felt that getting rid of Yfel permanently would be better for everyone.
“Look, I don’t have 500 gold. I’ll send you 50 gold per month until the 500 gold is paid off. But the kids go with me now.”
“You can take one kid. I’ll send another one once you’ve paid 100g. The last one I’ll send once you’ve paid off the total 500.”
What the fuck, it’s like he’s a villain with hostages. “Nuh-uh. Either you give me the kids and I send you the money or I kill you right here, right now. I’d rather kill you but I don’t think Chi and his siblings would appreciate that much.”
Yfel seemed to be thinking it over. “Then 600 gold. 100 gold now, 500 in monthly payments. As interest.”
She couldn’t believe Yfel’s audacity but felt this was the only way for her to leave with the children without killing him. If she’d even be able to. She was only level 21 and despite her confident words and his being a drunk degenerate, Yfel seemed to be level 43. He had to be hiding something and the only reason he wasn’t using it was because he was still drunk and he couldn’t tell that he was actually stronger than her.
“All right. I can do that. I’ll be back tomorrow with a contract.”
Yfel threw his sword aside and shuffled off towards a door. “Don’t come before 11AM. I’ll be asleep. Don’t fucking wake me up.”
She let out the breath she had been holding. “Okay. The kids are coming with me right now though.”
Luna fell to her knees once she shut the door behind her. Chi’s siblings ran to her, asking her if she was okay. She gave them a weak smile and put her arms around them.
“I’m okay. We’ll figure out where you guys will stay in the next few days – until then, you’ll stay with us.”
Chiarra burst into tears again as she threw her arms around Luna. Momocha hopped onto Chisa’s shoulder, rubbing her body against Chisa’s cheek.
“But who will take care of our father?”
Luna gave Chisa a pat on the head. “He’s an adult and he’s going to be coming into a decent amount of gold soon. He’ll be okay. Don’t you worry. Let’s go find a magician who can take us all to Chi, okay? He’s in a town kind of near SunYan.”
Liolac picked up Momocha from Chisa’s shoulder and squished her in his hands. He felt nervous and found Momocha’s squishiness helped to calm him down. Momocha let out an annoyed squeal but didn’t make another noise or try to escape his hands. Luna took a deep breath before standing up.
“Liolac will go first to let Chi know you guys are coming, okay? Momocha, c’mon.”
Momocha threw her body back so that she hit Liolac in the face before bouncing over to Luna. Liolac rubbed his face and warped to SunYin, the biggest city between Chuna and SunYan. He found that he was not looking forward to seeing Chi at the moment.
Chi was pacing as Liolac and Raza watched him from the magician’s guild in SunYin. It was the only way Luna and Chi’s siblings would have been able to travel to them other than walking all the way there. Liolac knew he was cutting it close with how long he was allowed to be on the game but wanted to make sure everything was okay before he logged off. Raza was just confused and she kept twirling her pink hair, staring at Chi as though willing him to blurt out what was going on. It seemed to work.
“How could Luna do this, Liolac? I mean, I’m glad they’re not with him anymore but how am I going to take care of them from here?? I have savings I could use but that’ll only last us so long. Do you know how much a house costs?! And what did she promise him?! There’s no way he let them go without some kind of promise or – oh my god, did she kill him?!”
“Calm down, Chi. I don’t think she killed him…”
Chi gasped. “You don’t think she killed him? So there’s a chance she did?”
At that moment, there was a flash of light at the “Incoming Travelers” section Chi was pacing in front of. His siblings and Luna appeared there. The three children ran to Chi, crying.
“Are you guys okay? I’m sorry, were you scared? What happened, Luna?”
“Can we talk about this tomorrow? I need to get some sleep if I want to wake up early to call out of work.”
Chi bit his lip, wanting to refuse her request but knew he should keep quiet.
“Uhm… so… anyone want to let me know what’s going on?” Raza had stood up to get a better look at the incoming guests and was surprised to see three young children.
“Tomorrow, Raza. Let’s go to bed for the night, get some sleep. I feel like shit. I’ll see you tomorrow night, Liolac. Thanks for your help today.” Luna shuffled off towards the guild exit, waving behind her.
Chi held his siblings close to him, grateful that they were with him. Liolac yawned and gave Chi a pat on the back. “Gnight, Chi. I got school so I won’t be on until the evening so I’ll see you then.”
Raza stood to the side awkwardly as Liolac logged off. Chi rubbed his watering eyes and stood. “Raza, we will be staying at the inn. Will we see you tomorrow?”
She was surprised – it seemed that Chi was looking forward to Raza coming with them the next day. “Uhm… yeah, sure.”
She decided to log off earlier than planned so she could be online in the morning. She wanted to know what was going on and felt like she had found a friend in witnessing Chi’s reunion with his siblings although she still didn’t know who these children were.
Luna sat at a table in the inn’s lobby, stifling a yawn with her hand. She had gotten up at 7AM so that she could call in to her work. Thankfully they were understanding of her being “ill” as she had never taken a day off in her time there. Unable to go back to sleep, she’d found herself chugging coffee until she logged in a couple of hours later. She still had no response from the game’s support system and decided she didn’t quite care if they never got back to her about Chi.
“Momocha!!” Luna turned to see Chiaki running towards her. She hadn’t even summoned Momocha yet. She assumed the child saw her and just thought “Luna = Momocha” and summoned Momocha immediately. “Wanna see something fun, Chiaki?”
He nodded as he grabbed Momocha and squished her cheeks. Chi, Chiarra and Chisa appeared at the stairs, moving much slower than the little boy had upon seeing Luna at the table.
“Momocha, summon gogoji berries.”
Momocha glowed and light blue berries appeared in Luna’s hand. They had little lines that looked like rainbows on them. She fed them to Momocha, who glowed and transformed into a light blue creature akin to an oversized fennec fox with multiple tails. The tails were like a pastel colored rainbow. Chiaki let out a happy laugh and threw his arms around Momocha, who let out a wheeze. Her breath came out like ice crystals and floated to the floor like snow. Momocha pulled herself free from Chiaki’s arms and blew out more crystals over him. He clapped his hands excitedly, trying to catch the crystals.
“You’ve been looking forward to using those berries. Thank you for sharing it with Chiaki.”
Luna gave Chi a smile. “Well, it’s thanks to you that I even have Momocha. Besides, Chiaki is super cute.”
She ruffled Chiaki’s hair and motioned for Chi and his sisters to sit down. “Let’s have some breakfast while I explain what happened.”
It took Luna 10 minutes to tell the story of how she had gotten Chi’s siblings away from Yfel. They seemed relieved that their father was alive, although she didn’t agree with it. Chiaki was on the floor playing with Momocha while the older three siblings sat listening quietly.
“Look, I know what I did was outrageous but I couldn’t just leave you guys there after seeing that. I promise I’ll find a way to pay the amount. I’m sure we can get the magician’s guild leader from that other city to draft a contract so your dad can’t weasel out of it and demand more or something. I understand it’s hard, Chi, but honestly, I think it’d be better for you guys to be homeless than to live with your dad. I’ll help out until you guys get situated and I’m sure Liolac will, too. It’s my fault you’re in this -”
“So, what’s going on here?” Luna was interrupted by Raza’s question. She wondered why Raza was there but remained silent.
Chi spoke up. “Hi, Raza. Thank you for joining us. These are my siblings, Chiarra, Chisa and Chiaki. Chiarra doesn’t speak anymore, so I’m sorry if she doesn’t greet you. Luna brought my siblings to me upon discovering some… unsavory things going on at home. Luna, I want to thank you. I hadn’t known he’d become so much worse… Chisa told me all about it last night. I will take care of my siblings no matter what, you have done so much for my family already, I couldn’t burden you more.”
Luna raised an eyebrow. “You’re going to find them a place to live and pay your dad 50 gold a month? You know they still need to eat and go to school, buy clothes, stuff like that?”
Chi blushed, embarrassed. He knew it was nearly impossible for him to take care of his family at this point, especially if he continued on his journey with Luna and Liolac.
“And don’t you dare say that you’re going to abandon us now when we’re on our way to SunYan. I want to know what the hell’s going on and you’re our friend. You can’t live the way you have been – even if Liolac won’t help, I will.”
Raza spoke up at this point. “Uhm… I have lots of gold. I can help if you don’t mind…”
She felt a little skeevy offering, almost as though she was trying to buy their friendship. For Luna, though, it was the first time since she had met Raza that she felt a positive emotion towards her. She could tell that Raza was being genuine and that she only wanted to help.
Luna gave her a smile and send gently, “Thanks, Raza, but I’d like to see what Liolac and I can work out for now. Would you mind if I asked you for help if we needed it?”
Raza blushed, nodding. No one had ever used a tone like Luna’s with her before other than her own mother. It felt… nice.
“We have to come back to SunYin later anyways, would your siblings be okay here at the inn?”
Chi nodded. “Chiarra and Chisa can look after Chiaki… I’ll leave them some snacks and some money for touring the city. You guys okay with that?”
He turned to his sisters, who nodded. Chisa reached out and hugged him, murmuring, “Be safe, brother. We’ve missed you.”
Raza found that questing with Chi and Luna was much easier than with Liolac and Momocha. The pace wasn’t crazy fast but it also wasn’t too slow. Luna fought two to three monsters at a time with Chi throwing in some attacks while healing them. Raza didn’t feel a need to tank and used her highest dps output skills to make quick work of the quest mobs. Momocha was suffering from a debuff from the gogoji berry and was barely functioning. She moved slowly, practically rolling to move forward.
“You know, the berry’s called gogoji so you’d think she’d move fast. Normally she loots so much faster but… no, Momocha!”
Momocha had started rolling towards a mob that had run off with a bleed debuff on it and died near another monster. Luna dashed forward, attacking it before it could sense Momocha’s presence and attack her. Momocha stopped her rolling and frowned. She turned slowly to look at Chi and looked like she was going to let out one of her screeches – and yawned instead. Chi let out a laugh.
“It’s okay, Momocha! C’mon, get on my shoulder!” He threw a heal that jumped from player to player at Luna and jogged forward to meet Momocha and pick her up. She was moving at a snail’s pace and he felt bad for her – she was obviously unhappy with the “Sluggish and lethargic for 1 hour” debuff the gogoji berry had left her with. Momocha made a half-hearted attempt to jump into his hands and fell halfway. He stifled a guffaw and picked her up, putting her on his shoulder. Her eyes had become slits and she jiggled on his shoulder, almost as though swaying back and forth.
“Just rest here, Momocha. You’ll feel better in a bit.”
“Mo… momo… “ She barely got the first half of her name out before she yawned. She grumbled, giving up on saying anything. Chi threw a combination attack and heal spell at the mobs when he saw it take a bite of Luna’s arm. Her sword was stuck in the ground and she had had to use one arm to block the attack while she attempted to pull out her sword. Raza killed it quickly while it still held onto Luna’s arm. Luna shook the corpse off her arm and pulled her sword out with both hands.
“I need a new weapon. This thing’s nice and all but it’s hard to swing around.” Luna frowned, wondering if she wanted to switch to a one-handed weapon and shield. Using a two-handed sword raised her attack power but she found that she had trouble moving quickly with such a heavy weapon.
Raza swung her spear around expertly, twirling it and smiling. “If you learn how to use this stuff in real life it’s easier in-game.”
Luna raised an eyebrow. “Yeah, like I have time for that. Show off.”
Raza smiled. Although the words seemed mean, Luna said it with a grin. “Luna, Raza! Incoming!”
Luna and Raza stood back to back as Chi ran towards them being chased by several wolf-like monsters, Momocha bobbing on his shoulder.
“Well… this is it. The guild leader made copies for us and he’s holding the original so your dad can’t do anything to it. He threw a fit and honestly, I think if it wasn’t for Raza, he would have demanded more money.”
Raza had followed Luna to Chuna and stood by the door with her best scowl on her face. Yfel could see that she came from money and had been cowed – not enough not to say anything or grumble, but enough not to renege on the deal. Chi took the parchment with trembling hands and looked it over.
“How… 600 gold?”
Luna smiled. “Small price to pay for your freedom. It’ll be a little hard upgrading our gear but I’m sure Liolac and I can manage it. You focus on taking care of your siblings, okay? You said you were going to spend some time today looking for lodging for them?”
Chi folded the paper and tucked it away into a pocket in his shirt. “Yes. I want to enroll them into the school nearby. I’m making more gold now traveling with you and Liolac so they’ll be able to attend school more regularly. I know Chiarra and Chisa will take good care of Chiaki. Chiarra is old enough so I can give her access to the bank account and since they’re not in Chuna I hope to check in on them periodically.”
Luna threw her arms around Chiarra, Chisa and Chiaki. “We’ll take care of you guys! You have to be good and do well in school, okay?”
They hugged her back, happy to be free of their father. “Thank you, Luna.”
It was quiet, but a voice Luna had never heard before. “Chiarra? Was that you?”
Chiarra nodded but was silent. Chi pulled Chiara into his arms, sobbing quietly. “I thought I would never hear your voice again…”
Chiaki stared at his sister. He couldn’t recall ever having heard her voice before. “Chiarra, your voice is pretty!”
He threw himself at his sister, jumping up and down excitedly. “Read me a story later!”
Chiarra smiled, nodding. Chisa stood to the side, hands over her mouth, crying. “I can’t believe… Luna, thank you so much.”
Momocha threw herself towards Chisa’s stomach and Luna caught her before she landed. “Hey, hey. You do that to a litlte girl like Chisa and it’ll hurt. She’s not like Liolac!”
“Hugs! Momocha hug Chisa!”
“With what arms?”
Momocha pouted at Luna’s Liolac-like comment but Chisa pulled Momocha into her arms. “Thank you, Momocha. I am not crying because I am sad, but because I am so happy. I have not heard my sister’s voice since I was six years old. You, Luna, Liolac, Raza… the four of you have brought back her voice. More than being free of our father, more than taking care of our brother… we can never pay you back for this gift.”
Momocha gave Chisa’s a cheek a lick before bouncing out of her arms. “Momocha dance!! Dance dance!”
Raza found herself laughing when Momocha began to “dance.” She reached out to touch her, forgetting Momocha’s dislike of her. Momocha swiveled around and frowned but didn’t snarl. Raza had pulled back her hand when Luna gave Momocha a smack.
“Be nice! Raza’s our friend!” Momocha grumbled and rolled away towards Chi. Chi frowned at her, shaking his head in disappointment. She let out a little whine and rolled her way towards Chisa, who gave her a pat on the head.
“Raza is very nice to us, Momocha. She’s a nice person. She helped us today, too. Let’s all be nice, okay?”
Momocha let out a keen as she rubbed her head against Chisa’s hand. Luna sighed. “C’mon, Momocha. Play nice.”
“Mean!” She disappeared. She had only done this before when she had had the debuff from the fragraria berry and they had failed to feed her for the full 10 minutes.
Luna rolled her eyes. “She’ll come around. Let’s get some food. I need to get some work done from home so I’m going to log off for a couple hours after.”
Chi, his siblings, Raza and Luna sat at a table in a restaurant. They ate mostly in silence, just enjoying each other’s company.
“Can I get you anything else?” The buxom waitress NPC stopped by their table with a big smile on her face. Chi kept his eyes down this time, as the first time she had come around, Luna had teased him mercilessly for staring. She elbowed him anyways, grinning.
“Hey, Chi. You need anything else?” His sisters giggled as his ears turned red. He stuttered out a small, “No,” his ears turning even redder.
The NPC flounced away to the next table. “Aw, Chi’s turned into a tomato~”
It was like the lack of Liolac’s presence made Luna act as though she had to make up for his absence. She was a bit more outgoing, a bit more teasing towards Chi. Chiarra and Chisa especially seemed to enjoy the dynamic, giggling every time Luna teased him.
“You okay, Chiaki?” Luna stopped poking Chi in the ribs and looked at the youngest member of the Yu family. He was pouting and pushing his food around on his plate.
“When’s Momocha gonna come out to play?”
Luna’s eyebrow twitched as she attempted not to laugh. “She’ll come out to play if I call her, you want me to call her for you, Chiaki?”
Chiaki nodded, looking as though he didn’t believe her. “Momocha, come out and play with Chiaki!”
Momocha appeared on the table and she was frowning. “Meanie!”
“Aw, c’mon Momo~ Chiaki missed you!” Momocha launched her body at Luna’s face and she moved her head to avoid the smack. Momocha hit the head of the person sitting behind Luna and fell to the floor before hopping towards Chiaki.
“What the hell?!” The woman Momocha hit stood up in anger and threw her spoon at them. “What the fuck is your problem?”
All of them paled when three big men stood up behind her, looking down at them menacingly. Luna raised her hands in a gesture of peace.
“Sorry, sorry. My Meekokat’s kind of pissed at me and I instinctively dodged when she tried to hit me in the face.”
“Maybe you should pay better attention to your fucking pet, bitch. What if I’d knocked out a tooth?!”
“Uhm… it’s a game… Look, I’m really sorry but I don’t think it’s even possi-”
That was when Momocha made everything worse by throwing herself into the woman’s face.