12. Differing Stances

    “Uuu, now this is part of the realism I’d rather do without…” Q attempted to cover up the exposed parts of her body, but to no avail. It turned out that the earlier encounter with the boars brought her armor durability down to a dangerously low level, and in their very next encounter on the way back it ‘broke’, causing it to reveal parts Q would rather keep hidden.

    “Oh suck it up Q,” Kukis rolled her eyes, “the only thing that’s showing is your back and a bit of leg.”

    “Yeah, but like, it’s still kinda embarrassing…”

    “Well you better get used to it. That kind of exposure is almost standard nowadays.”

    “Ugh, I’m definitely getting a new set of equipment once we get back in town.”

    “That reminds me actually.” Kukis reached into her inventory and took out a small tiny crown, then unceremoniously threw it at Q. “It was one of the Squibble King’s drops. It’s not my style so you can have it.”

    Q caught the crown and as she inspected it, she noticed that it was vaguely acorn-shaped, as if someone turned one upside down and gilded it. Despite being almost completely covered in gold, it didn’t seem gaudy at all thanks to the expert craftsmanship and small accessories dotted about. Other than that the crowns effects included a slight boost to all stats and an added effect of causing small animals to be immediately friendly. “This is awesome! Thanks Cookie!” Overjoyed by the additional effect the crown had, Q made a flying tackle and hugged Kukis tightly.

    “Wha- hey! Let go!” Kukis shouted with a red face, “It’s not that big of a deal!”

    “Of course it is! This will make befriending fluffies way easier. Now I need to find a set of armor that matches it…” With a new goal in mind, Q sped up and quickly outran the others heading to town on her own.

    “That guy…” Kukis began muttering under her breath, “I can’t believe he’d do that so casually!”

    “Kukis, are you okay? You don’t look so well.” Sunflower moved beside Kukis and began scanning her expression with an intense gaze. “Is this one of those things that friends don’t do? My mother always said that if someone is doing something you don’t like then you should firmly tell them off…and also look for the nearest authority figure.” 

    “I… no, nevermind.” Kukis exhaled deeply, as if to get rid of the buried feelings that were bubbling up. “It’s fine. Let’s catch up with Q. She’s already at the town boundary.” Leaving no more room for discussion, Kukis sped up causing Sunflower to drop the conversation and follow her.

    When the two reached the outskirts of the town they found a large crowd had formed, and they were largely split into the magician/warrior stereotypes. Q was nowhere to be found in the crowd, but scanning the map revealed that she was perched on top of a building. As the two’s eyes locked onto Q, she took notice and waved them over, barely taking her eyes off of the commotion as she listened with rapt interest.

    “That is the last straw Cadby!” A delicate-looking man dressed in an ornate robe was yelling at someone while pointing his wand that began to slowly fill with magical energy. “I have tolerated your actions for far too long, but that ends here!”

“Tolerate? You took the words right out of my mouth, Malcolm!” The person who was being yelled at turned out to be a large man who had rough features and was at least a head taller than the previous man. “You’re the ones who have been getting on our nerves the entire time! Now it’s time to settle the score!” He then proceeded to unstrap the giant broadsword on his back, and brandished it with a devilish grin.

“Woah woah, what the heck is this event?” Kukis asked as she and Sunflower got up to the roof Q was sitting on.

“Beats me,” Q shrugged, “When I got to the town there were two big groups just walking towards each other, sort of like that movie you like… Y’know the one with the sharks and jets?”

“West Side Story.” Kukis said with a deadpan look in her eyes.

“Yeah that one. Anyway, after they spread around the area the two dudes in the middle bumped into each other head on and started arguing, and now the situation has devolved into this.”

“Is no one going to stop them? This looks very dangerous.” Sunflower asked with a worried tone. 

“I don’t think anyone is interested in doing that. In fact, I think this is exactly the kind of situation the players want to see.” As Kukis pointed it out, the group had become aware of the growing crowd of onlookers which primarily consisted of astralites. 

“Ahh, so this is what’ll kick it off.” Q came to an understanding of the situation. Kukis nodded, but Sunflower looked confused so Q began to elaborate. “The two opposing factions in this place have been constantly fighting, but it’s never developed into an all-out war, regardless of how much they hate each other. That’s probably due to the amount of casualties that would occur from such an act. Now tell me, little Sunflower,” Q paused for effect, then continued with a grin, “what do you think would happen if you suddenly introduced a bunch of immortal warriors in the middle of all this?”

“…They would use them to settle their differences!” As realization dawned upon Sunflower, it was quickly clouded over with concern. “But that means a lot of fighting is going to happen. This town will become very dangerous…” 

“Yup. But then again we gamers thrive on danger.” Kukis smiled, then added, “also, we’re in a slightly better state than other players, being a part of the Primrose group and all. We don’t have to get deeply involved in the conflict.” 

“I… suppose that’s true.” Sunflower began to contemplate the situation while the argument in the center became more heated.

“It seems your foolish ways have not changed in the slightest! I shall personally put an end to it today!” The magician’s robes were sent aflutter as he sent out a blast of magic with his wand.

“Try it if you can you sissy!” In response the warrior brought out his greatsword and directly blocked it with the flat side of the blade.

“Cadbyyyy!!!”

“Malcoooolm!!!”

“HAAAAAAH!!!”

“OOOOHHHHHH!!!”

“Wow, they’re really going at it.” An amused grin floated on Q’s face, but her eyes remained sharp as she watched the battle. “Oh? A new challenger approaches.” She pointed towards the middle as the crowd had parted in order to let two women pass by. One was dressed in similar robes as the magician, while the other was sporting heavy armor and a large battleaxe.

While the two men were in the middle of exchanging fierce blows with one another, the two women exchanged a glance, nodded, and then jumped right into the fray, giving the two men a nasty smack on the back of their heads.

“What in Stellaria’s name are you doing!?” The lady magician looked absolutely furious as she glared down at Malcolm who had done a splendid faceplant on the ground. 

“I- Sharon I can expl-” 

“No excuses! How dare you cause such a ruckus in town!” With a flick of her wrist, Sharon conjured up an ethereal hand which picked up Malcolm by the collar and hoisted him midair. “I will hear the details back home. For now…” She turned to the side filled with magicians and shouted, “All of you are to return immediately! Is that understood!?” Shocked into action the magicians scrambled to leave the area, some even casting spells to assist in their speedy escape.

On the other hand Cadby looked far worse than Malcolm as he went a step further and evolved his state from a faceplant into an actual plant. “Mpphhh!” His legs shook around in the air as he attempted to pull his head out from the ground.

“Sorry hun,” the woman with the battleaxe grabbed his foot and unrooted him from the ground, “but this was getting a bit outta hand. I know you’re upset an’ all, but we shouldn’t fight each other mkay?”

“Mary… I almost had him this time!” 

“I’m sure you’ll get him another time hun.” Mary simply waved her hand at the remaining  warriors and they respectfully took their leave. “Now then, it’s about time that-”

“This isn’t over Malcolm!” Cadby somehow managed to project an aura of menace despite being held upside down. “We’ll settle this score soon!”

“I don’t normally agree with you, but this stalemate has gone on long enough.” Malcolm snarled, “By the month’s end, I will-”

“By the month’s end is our honeymoon.” Sharon interjected.

“…Before the month’s end I will put an end to this futile feud!” 

“Hmph.” Cadby didn’t return much of a response, though that might have been because of the blood rushing to his head. 

With their respective husbands subdued, the two women turned and left, ignoring the looks of the various astralites which were still hanging around the area. As if on cue, the moment the outskirts were clear of the locals, the astralites began a heated discussion. It only took a few minutes for their conversations to conclude, and in the end they all scattered in different directions, likely coming to the same conclusion Q and the others had thought of. 

    “Well that was fun.” Q slid off the roof and landed easily. “I’m off to get some new armor! I’ll leave the investigating to you Cookie.”

    “Seriously Q?” For a moment Kukis thought of refusing but ended up putting a resigned look on her face while letting out a long sigh. “You know, you could do some investigating yourself sometimes. Maybe find a new quest or something.”

    “Right, but alternatively I could leave it all to you and get new armor.”

    “…Why do I even bother. Sunflower, do you want to walk around?” 

    “Uh, um,” Sunflower looked back and forth between the two girls indecisively, before eventually shaking her head and said, “I’m sorry. I’m actually at a game center playing this, and my curfew is coming up soon so…”

    “Right, I forgot about the time… and that you were twelve. Be safe on the way home Sunflower!” Q gave her a cheerful smile.

    “Yes, I make very sure to be safe.” Sunflower returned an equally cheerful smile, which then turned into a frown. “You… you will be here when I get back right?”

    “Depends on our time zone differences, but if you log on at the same time as today chances are pretty high we’ll be here.”

    “Okay! I’ll come here as early as possible!” Sunflower began moving her fingers to log out, and just before she did she gave her biggest smile yet. “Thank you for being my friends!” Then, she disappeared in a flash of light. 

    After a few seconds of silence Q spoke up. “Man if I didn’t feel guilty for making her cry before… I’ll have to make it up to her tomorrow. But first, armor!”

    “Yeah you’ve been fairly butt-naked for a while now.” Kukis snickered.

    “Don’t look!”






—–








A/N: I always plan out a chapter beforehand and make a list of things I want to write, but always end up derailing the whole thing halfway through.

2 thoughts on “12. Differing Stances

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