“You’re sure you’re ready?” Simon spoke into his phone with a concerned tone. After Helen’s amazing scream, the two finally heard the details about why Helen could play Myriad Myths. It turned out that the Dimen company had also begun working with all sorts of medical facilities across the world to see the effects of virtual reality with patients who might have lost their usage of limbs or other such disabilities. They had just recently launched a program to allow these patients to use the virtual pods, and Helen happened to be one of the first. No doubt that was Adam’s doing… what’s his aim?
“Yes.” Helen’s exasperated voice could be heard from the other side.
“And you’ve properly read all the instructions?”
“Oh my gosh bro, I’m alright! I’m ready, and I’m rarin’ to go! Don’t worry about me and just worry about the ass whooping I’m going to give you once I find you in the game.”
“Okay, I’m just a little nervous is all… Also there is no way you’re going to beat me in an actual physical fight.”
“Tsk, tsk my dear brother. You forget you’re talking to the most obsessive min/maxer in the world!”
“The world, huh?”
“Uhh… more like this city. Or, our street? Anyway, don’t bother me anymore, I’m going to plaaaay!” Helen then promptly hung up the phone.
“Hahah. I can’t wait to meet her in the game.” Simon put down his phone and then lowered himself into his virtual pod.
“Hmmm, what should I do first?” Q stepped out of the log-in square and began to do her stretches to get re-acclimated to her body. “Go out and fight monsters? That seems good but I also want to explore the town… I wish somebody could give me an idea.”
“How about this for an idea?”
Q suddenly felt a hand clamp down on her head and begin to squeeze. She immediately went to grab the hand and felt a strange resistance, as if it was covered in something. Before she could figure anything out she was lifted into the air and twisted on the spot to face the person currently grabbing her.
Now that she had a look at the person, she saw that it was a tall woman with shimmering chin-length purple hair. Her eyes were different colors, red and blue, and were focused on Q giving her an angry stare. Q’s eyes wandered down and saw she had incredibly ‘bouncy’ body parts, the most impressive of which was her large chest. Quickly re-adjusting her gaze to the woman’s face she happened to notice a small star under the corner of her eye, and a name appeared above her head.
[Kukis – Level 8]
“Oh, it’s you Cookie. That explains the chest.”
“Excuse me!?” Kukis’ grip increased in strength as if she was trying to directly crush Q’s skull. “What exactly do you mean by that?”
“Y’know… you could change just about anything in your character creation so it makes sense that you’d- OWOWOWOWOW.” Q broke into a nervous sweat as she noticed her health was slowly starting to deplete.
“And. What. Is. That. Supposed. To. Mean?” With deft movements Kukis was able to switch from an iron-claw grip into grinding Q’s temples with her knuckles. “You think you can keep teasing me like that without consequences huh? Let me show you my accumulated grudges from all these years!”
“Aaaaagh! I give, I give! Pleash, stahp!” Q cried out. This is no longer the Cookie I once knew… this is a new, Violent Cookie! The thin, frail-looking girl in his memories would never have been capable of doing something like this (regardless of how much she wanted to).
“Tch, I’m only letting you off now because the town guards would attack if I dealt any more damage.” Noticing armored figures beginning to approach their location, Kukis relented and let Q drop to the ground. “We’ll have a loooot of time to catch up, right Simon?”
“R-right, Diana.” Q began to massage her temples. “What the heck did you use? It hurt way more than when I got bitten by a wolf.”
“[Focus] and [Strong Arm]. Adds about a fifty percent increase to strength, but doesn’t last very long. Also it turns out being slowly crushed hurts a lot more than being pierced or cut, at least in this game.”
“You’re telling me…” Finally recovering, Q got up and patted herself down. “So, what’ve you got planned to do?”
“It’s kind of annoying how fast you recovered from that.” Kukis frowned. “Ah, whatever. Follow me, I found a place with lots of quests.”
Q followed Kukis and the two of them walked around town. Now that she had the chance, she began to take a closer look at the town and its people. The buildings were incredibly tall for a town, easily reaching the height of four stories, and some even higher. The material appeared to be made of some sort of glossy stone with bright pastel colors, and they used wooden fixtures for their doors and windows, which Q noticed were equally as glossy as if someone had covered them with a fine glaze. At the top of the buildings were large fan-like structures which were spinning lazily in the afternoon breeze. I guess these townspeople are pretty eco-friendly.
The townspeople all wore some sort of cloak or robe with varying sizes, as both the young and old sported various fabrics that flapped freely in the wind. Most of them appeared to be humans, but there were a few odd races here and there (the players definitely had the most variety in that sense). An odd thing she noticed is that the townspeople seemed to fall into two categories: thick, or thin. They ended up separating into either big muscly warriors, or slim and fair magicians.
“Hey Cookie, are there like, two factions in this town or something?” Q asked.
“Call me Kukis here, Q. Don’t bring that nickname into this new game alright?” Kukis made a displeased frown.
“If you insist but… your name already sort of sounds like Cookie. Like, Kuu-keys sounds pretty damn close y’know? …Actually it’s a weird choice considering how much you refused to accept Cookie in the past, what made you choose that as your name?”
“Weird choice? You’re one to talk with that single letter name.” Kukis turned her face away from Q. There’s no way I’m letting him know that I chose it because it already sounded like Cookie. Curse my lack of creativity!
“Hmmmm…” Q eyed Kukis suspiciously but didn’t pursue the subject any further. “You didn’t answer my question though. Are there any factions in this town?”
“Oh, yeah.” Kukis felt relief once Q lost interest. “Basically there are two old families who live in this land, the Breckdens and the Velories. The Breckdens are the big muscle dudes who are all about ‘power’. The Velories are the thin ones who like magic. Besides their ideologies being completely different, they also have an incredible dislike of each other because of this dispute that took place a long time ago. The Breckdens initially found this land and developed it a bit, but their ancestors were more into wandering like nomads so they didn’t stick around for very long. Then the Velories came in and decided to settle down permanently by using the Breckdens foundations and built most of the town. After some point the Breckdens came back, and a really big argument came up about who properly owns the town. By the way, don’t ask me how they started that fight because I’m still trying to figure it out myself.”
“Right, so I guess players are allowed to join a side and get different rewards.” Q nodded in understanding. “It’s great to see that your information gathering skills haven’t dulled at all Kukis.”
“Of course, who do you think I am?” Straightening her back, Kukis put a smug look on her face. “You should have called me ‘Lore Galore’ back then! …No, that sounds lame. Cookie is better than that.”
“Pfft. Glad to see your naming sense is still the same.” Q smirked..
“Shush you.” Turning a corner, Kukis paused for a moment before reorienting herself and moving towards another road. “By the way Q, why’d you end up looking like… that?” She gestured to all of Q.
“Well, why’d you end up looking like… that?” Q gestured to all of Kukis. “Obviously in my case I did it because it had great stats and looked cute. That’s where my name’s from. Aren’t I such a Q-tie?” She pointed at her cheeks and put an impish smile on her face, and much to Kukis’ dismay it actually looked quite adorable.
“Ugh… well I hope you’re happy with that. Actually come to think of it I heard that wildlings have super soft fur, and since we’re talking about you…”
“Oh. My. GOD. You have no idea how soft this is! Feel it!” Q slid her tail over to Kukis, and upon touching it, it sent a shiver up her spine.
“H-holy crap that’s dangerous…” Kukis forcibly wrenched back her hand which was already reaching towards Q’s tail once again.
“I know right? Do you want another touch?”
“N-no! We need to focus. On uh, quests. Yes, quests! It’s just over here.” Kukis slipped around a corner and Q followed curiously, only to be met with an alleyway with a dead end. The only thing of note was a small image of a rose which sat at the bottom of the wall.
“So… what I see is an empty alleyway. Either you brought us here to kill me, or there’s a secret faction.”
Kukis simply rolled her eyes in response and knocked on the colorful glossy surface. First it was three fast knocks, then two slow ones. There was a moment of silence, then a quiet voice came from the other side. “The most beautiful rose is…?”
“A prim and proper one. I’ve got a friend by the way.”
“…Okay, come in.” As the voice faded away the bright colorful wall collapsed in on itself, almost as if someone on the other side used a vacuum to suck in a piece of paper. What appeared on the other side of the wall was a long corridor which leads downwards, and a young girl holding a lantern and what appeared to be a drawing. Her small figure and overall nervous disposition started to set off Q’s maternal instinct, to which she was incredibly surprised to find she had. Although the girl’s eyes were hidden behind a curtain of black hair, Q could still feel her curious gaze scanning herself.
“Hello Lily, you’re on watch duty again?”
“Yes, Sheila is busy dealing with all the new astralites so… oh yes, you mentioned a friend?”
“‘Sup,” Q raised a hand, “I’m Q, nice to meet you.”
“Yes, a pleasure to meet you as well. I welcome you to the Primroses.” Lily made a polite curtsy and lightly touched the tips of Q’s fingers with her own. “Ah, oh, this is a custom here… I hope you’re not offended or anything.”
“Nah, if anything it’s kind of cute. Maybe I should start greeting people like that. What do you think Cookie?” Q grinned as she extended her fingers towards Kukis.
“I told you not to call me that.” Kukis made a tsk sound as she slapped Q’s hand down.
“Cookie? I believe she introduced herself as Kukis.” A look of confusion appeared on Lily’s face.
“Oh, get this, she-”
“Let’s go okay!” Kukis quickly clamped her hand over Q’s mouth and began to drag her down into the dark depths below. A half-second later Lily reacted and hastily threw the piece of paper in her hand back towards the alleyway. As the paper flew through the air she made a few movements with her hands and the paper suddenly expanded to create a large wall that completely covered the entrance to the underground corridor. A few moments later the wall became slightly transparent and she could see through the other side, and upon seeing this Q’s eyes began to sparkle with interest.
Despite her excitement Q remained silent and patiently let herself be carried by Kukis. The trio descended down the long corridor with only the light from Lily’s lantern as illumination. After a minute of walking another light source revealed itself at the end of the corridor, and once they got halfway there Lily bowed to Q and Kukis, then returned to the entrance. The rest of the way was traveled mostly in silence, which was then broken by Q.
“Say Kukis, you said you were aiming for a support build right?”
“Then why the heck are you so strong? I can’t believe you carried me down the whole way.”
“Oh.” Kukis dropped Q on the ground (for the second time today) and addressed her question. “Honestly I put a few points in strength because of my tutorial, and I also managed to get a nifty item which increases my strength. I mean, I’ll get the proper stats eventually but this is alright for now.”
“It’s still surprising though. I would’ve never imagined you doing something like this in real life.” Q dusted herself off.
“You should remember that this isn’t your body in real life. You’re unexpectedly light.” For once, Kukis wore a mischievous grin on her face while Q grimaced and silently swore that she would get enough strength to lift Kukis up with one hand. The two continued their playful banter for a bit longer, and finally got to the source of the light.
Once they exited the corridor, they ended up in a large room in the shape of a dome. There were many people walking around and the first thing Q noticed is that they were all female. These girls were doing various activities ranging from eating sweets, to exchanging gossip. In one part of the room Q even noticed a few girls sparring against each other, exchanging blows with both fists and magic. The second thing she noticed was the smell.
“Gah! This smell, whyyy…” Q collapsed onto her knees while covering her nose. It was as if she had crossed a barrier, as the moment she took a step into the room her nose was assaulted by multiple strong scents.
“Huh? Pfft-hahaha!” Kukis burst in a fit of laughter. “I forgot you weren’t used to this kind of stuff. Perfume is incredible right?”
“My wildling nose is making it worse! How do you girls manage to breathe with all this perfume in the air? I’m inhaling toxins! Wait, I swear my CON just went up. Either that or my health went down…”
“You’re exaggerating. Besides, you’re technically a ‘girl’ now too,” Kukis picked Q off the ground, “so you better get used to it. I was originally going to go out of the town and grind some monsters with you, but after seeing your current gender I thought it’d be way more interesting to bring you here. Most importantly, it’s soothing my wounded heart from all those quips you kept throwing my way. This was totally worth it!”
“Uuuu…” Tears began to form at the corner of Q’s eyes as she glared at Kukis. “Diana, I’ll remember this!”
“Urk-” Kukis hastily released Q. “Now hold on, this was just a harmless joke! There’s no need to do anything drastic!” Her initial joy was swept away by a nervous sweat. If I actually got Simon angry then the consequences…
Luckily for Kukis she didn’t have to deal with the consequences, as a sharp voice cut through the air. “You’re in the way. Move.”
The two girls stopped their argument and looked to the source of the voice. What appeared before them was a pair consisting of a construct and wildling. The construct had the appearance of a doll with exposed ball joints and an almost porcelain-like quality to its skin, and its face was blank, save for two small sapphires which acted as eyes. It wore a dress which vaguely resembled a victorian maid outfit and it stood respectfully behind the wildling, which was the source of the voice.
The wildling turned out to be a small girl almost exactly the same height as Q, and her ears and tail indicated she was of the mouse subrace. Her skin, hair, and even clothing were completely pure white, which exuded a sense of both purity and coldness at the same time. The most striking feature of this girl was her ruby-red eyes gleaming with impatience and irritation, enough to make it feel like they were pricking Q’s skin.
“Sorry about that.” Q and Kukis subconsciously stepped to the side, and the mouse girl simply scoffed then walked by with a brisk pace. The construct followed after, and though it didn’t say anything Q felt like it was making an apologetic smile (despite the lack of a mouth on it). “Hey Kukis, those two…”
“Yeah, they’re real strong.” Kukis stared out after the two and silently recalled the information she just saw.
[Rain – Level 13]
[Brie – Level 15]