Have you ever wondered what life would be like if it was all a game?
In the year of 4000, the gaming industry went to new heights with their Role Playing game technology that earned them billions. The most popular RPG was “Dragon Lord Conquer,” an RPG that dominated the market with its unique switch character feature and appealing storyline. What also made it stand out was that there were always new quests no matter where the player went and the game would never end expanding the world of the game. This game became so advanced that eventually it seemed to gain a mind of its own. As a result the game was pulled from the market and was sealed in a protected chamber where only the highly qualified individuals had access to it.
The RPG became a protected planet for all the residences of the game had a mind of their own, but still played their part in the game, especially the heroes of the game who still try to defeat the main antagonist of the story: the Dragon Lord, Longwei. Longwei, since the establishment of the game, had remained undefeated no matter how many times he was challenged. He was the ultimate last boss with his power to command all the dragons in the world and to change the world to his liking. When the game was sealed, his power grew stronger and his personality more twisted. His backstory was still a mystery since the data that revealed his story were hidden in special quests.
As for the main hero of the RPG, there were multiple protagonists from a famed detective to a sword wielding youth. The game focused on all of their stories making them all the main characters. The appeal of it is that the characters only pass each other during trips, but barely had any contact with each other and would only speak directly to each other when they were ready to face the antagonist. When the game was sealed, they interacted more with each other, but not close enough to be considered friends as most of them would see it. In some ways they saw each other as bitter rivals.
Heroes, antagonists, and quests were highlights of an RPG, but the characters that always said the same lines and were only good on providing items to the heroes were basically forgotten to the players. These characters were non-playable characters, NPCs. Finding an NPC sometimes provides needed information to the heroes or it can sell items to a hero. Most NPCs repeat the same lines that a player would be tempted just to click skip on their controller. When the game was sealed, the NPCs didn’t change, at least not to the heroes. They interacted with each other, but spoke set lines to the heroes only.
The NPCs mostly provided items and these very items were created by Vendors, also NPCs. The Vendors gather ingredients scattered across the world and synthesize them to make needed items for the heroes like potions, elemental stones, and even quest items if they are part of a mission step for the heroes. These Vendors sell these items to other NPCs to sell to the heroes, but if the Vendors are traveling they can choose to be sellers as well. These special NPCs all lived in a village with no programmed name and it had a function where monsters couldn’t even approach it.
Among these Vendors and one of the most talented was Anthea named after one of the ingredient herbs needed to make a Special Potion. NPCs didn’t have names, but when the game changed, the NPCs began to give themselves names and for some reason they were able to say their names to the heroes if they were asked. Anthea was one of them, but unlike the others, it was her programmed father, Moogle, who named her.
Anthea created many items using the ingredients she gathered herself through her many travels around the game world and has met a number of the heroes, but since she was an NPC, the heroes only saw her as another Vendor that they could buy items from. Anthea didn’t feel frustrated by this, but her belief on the matter began to change on the day she took up shop near the crossroads closes to the Elemental Caves that held the ingredients to make Elemental Stones and weapons.
Anthea had parked her cart next to the only bush on the crossroads and began to organize the different items she had made just the day before. As a Vendor of the game, she was programmed to set up shop on the side of the road when she reached a checked point for NPCs. Depending on the programming, she would stay in the spot for days or even weeks, eating and drinking only what she had packed. Of course, as an NPC, she could not be attacked by monsters unless they were programmed to do so and she wouldn’t die from hunger, but the game was different after it was sealed, so she did grow hungry like a regular person. That’s why she made sure to pack as much supplies as she could when she left her village to gather ingredients. The programming of setting up shop could also be cancelled if the spot was already occupied, which wasn’t the case for Anthea at the moment.
Anthea placed High Potions on the top shelf of her cart, just before she heard the approaching footsteps of travelers. She glanced over her shoulder making her long, curly, brown hair bounce against her back. Her eyes of green and blue seemed to sparkle as she stared down the road toward the approaching travelers, who she recognized as five of the heroes of the game.
One of the heroes was a priest. He wore a white cap with the cross insignia on the right side. His white robe was long, but not long enough to hide his feet revealing the brown sandals on his feet. In his hand was a scepter specifically designed for Priests to heal the team members. He seemed to be around his twenties to thirties judging by his young looks. His eyes were chestnut brown and his short, blue hair peeked from under his cap.
The hero next to the priest was a thief. His clothes seemed to resemble that of Robin Hood, but his clothes were ash brown and the pouch on his side was made entirely of wolf skin. On his hip was also a dagger with a silver handle. His hair was black like the night and his eyes were a deep shade of red that made it seem like his eyes were stained with blood. Just like his class says, he was designed to steal.
There was a female hero among them, who Anthea recognized as a Shaman. As a Shaman she could summon spirits using the wooden staff she always held in her left hand. She wore a torn shirt made of wolf animal skin revealing her bare stomach and a skirt of the same fabric. She wore no shoes revealing the dirt on the soles of her feet. Her eyes were emerald green and her hair a dark brown and tangled as if she hadn’t brushed it for days.
Among the heroes was a young boy maybe around the age of ten or thirteen. The transparent wings on his back made it obvious to Anthea that he was a fairy. Fairies were spell casters, but they specialized in nature summoning like golems and goblins depending on the element they commanded. The sky blue clothes of loose fabric; the blue gem embedded in his forehead; his blue hair and eyes; and the blue enchanted markings on both his arms made it clear to Anthea that he was a water element fairy. The fairies were also known for their aloofness, so it was surprising that he would be traveling with other heroes.
The last hero was a swordsman. He wore light silver armor with the crest of the Agalia Kingdom, one of the Kingdom locations in the game, on the shoulder plate and a long silver sword attached to his waist. His long golden hair was tied in a ponytail allowing it to catch some of the passing wind. He seemed straight from a fairytale and it might explain why he was one of the most popular heroes before the game was sealed. In truth, Anthea only heard of his popularity, but never had the honor to sell to him, even after the game was sealed.
These five heroes had to have their names chosen when they went into play, but since the game was sealed, they took the liberty of choosing their own names, which they didn’t even bother to mention to the NPCs, who they saw as nothing more as a way to get items and information. It was the same for the other heroes scattered in the RPG world.
As the heroes got closer, Anthea dusted off her dress and went into her NPC position waiting for them to pass her. Something seemed to click as the heroes finally reached her.
“Hey,” said the Priest. Anthea smiled in reply and said, “Welcome to my humble shop fellow traveler. Would you like to buy any of my wares?” The priest nodded and looked at the others.
“We should stock up on some High Potions before entering the caves,” stated the Priest. The fairy scoffed with crossed arms and asked, “Who made you leader?”
“Look here Priest, I am only traveling with you since I need the award from this Quest,” stated the fairy jabbing his finger at the priest. The Priest sighed in reply.
“I didn’t mean to sound like the leader.”
The Shaman sighed and said, “Just don’t sound high and mighty.” The Priest nodded.
The thief suddenly chuckled and said, “He may not be the leader, but he does make a point. We do need potions to survive this mission, especially since we used most of the Revival Potions on dear Mr. Fairy here on the last mission.”
“DON”T REMIND ME!” yelled the fairy sending droplets of water at the thief, who in turn used the Priest as his shield. The Priest wiped his soaked clothes down and said, “Let’s just get the items.”
The Swordsman pulled out his coin pouch from midair and said, “It’s on me this time, but Hazel pays next time.” The thief, Hazel, stuck his tongue out in retaliation.
The Swordsman approached Anthea and was about to ask for twenty High Potions, but fell silent when he first laid eyes on her. The sun seemed to reflect off of Anthea’s hair making it shine and her eyes of green and blue seemed to sparkle. The Swordsman seemed completely mesmerized by Anthea’s look.
Anthea smiled at the Swordsman and stated, “Welcome to my humble shop fellow traveler. Would you like to buy any of my wares?” The Swordsman nodded not taking his eyes off from Anthea.
“Twenty High potions,” stated the Swordsman. Anthea nodded taking the High Potions from the shelf and held them to the Swordsman.
“Would you like anything else?”
The Swordsman nodded and stated, “Twenty Revival Potions.” Anthea got the order and presented it to the Swordsman.
“Would you like anything else?” asked Anthea with a bright smile.
The Swordsman blushed and stated, “Can I have your name?” making his team mates raise an eyebrow at him.
“Sky, you really don’t need a NPC’s name,” stated the Shaman. The Swordsman, Sky, didn’t even bother to look at them as he looked intently at Anthea. Anthea smiled and said, “Of course fellow traveler. My name is Anthea. Would you like anything else?”
“Anthea,” stated Sky, grabbing Anthea’s hands with reddened cheeks and excited eyes, and added, “Such a beautiful name.” Anthea didn’t reply and only stared at Sky with a smile on her face.
Hazel suddenly yanked Sky away from Anthea allowing Anthea to fold her hands in front of her. Sky glanced at Hazel, who had annoyance in his face.
“I know you like beautiful things, but to flirt with an NPC is going too far,” stated Hazel.
“Hazel has a point and we need you to focus on the quest we’re on,” stated the Priest as he grabbed the bought items and placed them in an inventory window and paid Anthea using the gold coins Sky left on the counter. Sky groaned lowering his head in disappointment.
“Would you like anything else?” asked Anthea making all look at her.
“No thank you, we are done for today,” stated the Priest with a smile. Anthea smiled and said, “Please come again.”
Before the heroes could walk down the path toward the Elemental Caves, Sky ran back to her activating Anthea’s set lines.
“Welcome to my humble shop fellow traveler. Would you like to buy any of my wares?”
Sky was blushing as he materialized a small piece of paper and feathered pen, usually used for crafting and wrote his name on the piece of paper using the feathered pen. He handed it to Anthea and said, “Please remember my name, Anthea, and I promise to see you again.” With that, Sky ran off to join the others.
Anthea snapped out of her programmed state and stared down at the paper that only had the hero’s name: “Sky.”
“Sky?” muttered Anthea finding it strange that a hero actually revealed his name to her, an NPC of the game. Anthea shook her head placing the craft paper in the drawer of her cart and began to bring out more of her wares to replace the wares that were sold.