Stage7: Reunion

Hazel, the thief, was in a Forest Bar called Lotus Spirits drinking to his delight and chatting with women that were NPCs, but seemed to have some form of personality. One of the women suddenly asked, “Is that man your friend?”

Hazel glanced to the corner where Sky was crouched down in with a solemn air all around him. Hazel chuckled saying, “Don’t mind him, he’s just feeling sad that he was dumped.”

“I wasn’t dumped,” muttered Sky with his head lowered in a crestfallen form.

“Yeah, yeah, just keep telling yourself that,” stated Hazel sarcastically.

Hazel noticed his mug getting low on Spirit Beer and asked for another fill, but the bartender approached and said, “Sorry, but we are low on supply.”

“You serious?”

“Well the Vender I buy supplies from hasn’t come in days.”

Hazel clicked his tongue placing his mug down. Hazel got up and went to Sky’s depressed form saying, “Let’s hunt instead of you sulking.” Sky was still silent, so Hazel began to drag him out like a drowned cat.

Since Anthea left her spot, Hazel formed a party with Sky so he could get over his heart break. He didn’t consider Sky a friend, but he felt obligated to help him get over his depression since he got a lot of money thanks to him. He even brought him to bars, but Sky didn’t even get a glass and the bars weren’t really helpful anyway since most of them were running out of supply, which was strange since stores were never low on supply.

Hazel dragged Sky out of the bar and suddenly noticed that the air around them felt different. Hazel and Sky both felt a jolt and began to look around. Even Sky was put on alert at the sudden jolt. Sky noticed the wind blowing in the trees and whispered, “This feels very different.” Hazel nodded in agreement.

Hazel suddenly caught a weft of smoke and urged Sky to follow. The pushed through the trees and when they were in the clearing, they saw smoke emitting from down the road, a road they don’t remember even crossing.

Sky drew his sword saying, “This might be a hidden quest.” Hazel nodded in agreement pulling out his dagger. They ventured down the path with their eyes peeled and the smell of smoke was beginning to mix with aged corpses making Hazel gag and say, “Is this part of the program because it stinks.” Sky nodded in agreement trying to ignore the smell.

They soon saw in their path a completely burned down village they had never seen before with traces of dry blood on the ground. Sky glanced around saying, “Looks like this village was swarmed.” Hazel nodded and added, “But I’ve never seen this village. This must be a hidden quest.”

They entered the village and looked at the destruction around them. Since the game gained awareness, they had never seen such destruction in a single village and the amount of blood made the likelihood of survivors close to zero.

Sky sheathed his sword when he sensed there were no enemies in sight and Hazel did the same. Sky glanced at the buildings and stands and stated, “Looks like there were a lot of shops here.” Hazel nodded in agreement.

Hazel peeked into one of the destroyed buildings and cringed when he saw molded wheat bread on the counter with drips of blood on it as well. Hazel turned away in disgust wondering if he would ever have the urge to eat wheat bread again.

Sky on the other hand peeked through other stands that had traces of dry blood as well as weapons that seemed to be still in good shape. Sky pulled out a sword and noticed the crest on the handle.

“This is a Gale Sword. I remember owning one like it and if I remember right, only one can exist in the game since I am the only one who can use it.”

“So you got a free sword? Good for you,” stated Hazel pushing through some building debris. Sky nodded and placed the sword in his item box. He suddenly heard Hazel cheer and glanced at him only to see Hazel gathering gold nuggets from a chest in the debris.

“Aren’t those for quests only?” asked Sky. Hazel nodded tossing a gold nugget into his inventory.

“In the Gold Vein Mountains, there’s a quest where you have to gather a millions of these in exchange for gold: a thief’s quest. Finding a chest full of these babies is going to make me rich.”

Hazel placed the last of the nuggets into his inventory and then searched more of the destroyed buildings with excitement in his eyes.

Sky sighed and continued his search as well. He found a number of items including elemental Stones that were hard to find for heroes and yet there were quite a number of them scattered around like shells on a beach.

Sky heard Hazel cheer again and glanced at him only to see Hazel hugging five bottles of Spirit Beer.

“This place is a gold mine,” stated Hazel in delight. Sky had to agree with Hazel, but looking around he realized that the people of this destroyed village kept many treasures. He thought long a hard and then looked at Hazel with seriousness in his eyes.

“Hazel?”

“Yeah?” answered back Hazel as he placed the beer in his inventory.

“Do you remember about the bars being low on supplies because the Venders that deliver the supplies never came?”

“Uh-huh, what about it?”

“I think the Venders who make the items lived in this village.”

Hazel’s smile instantly faded and stated, “If that’s the case then we are totally screwed. We need items to continue the game.” Sky nodded in agreement and hoped that his hypothesis was wrong.

Sky suddenly heard the sound of a shovel and felt his eyes widened. There was someone here and Sky was determined to see this someone. He rushed through the village and Hazel dashed behind him wondering where Sky was going.

The sound grew louder and soon Sky found himself standing on loose dirt or more precise: a graveyard. There were markers all around. There were so many that Sky believed that spirits would begin to appear.

Hazel arrived at the site as well and frowned at the sight.

“There are enough markers here to fill a village.”

“I agree and these markers just might be the residents of the village…all dead.”

Hazel shook his head, while Sky looked solemn at the site, but then he heard the shoveling again and glanced into the distance. Next to a tall tree he saw a figure of a girl holding a shovel in her hand as she dug under the tree. Sky adjusted his eyes and felt his eyes widen when he realized that the girl was familiar. In his heart he hoped the girl was who he thought she was. He walked toward her and Hazel tailed behind curious about the new presence in their sight.

As Sky got closer he saw the girl’s brown hair shimmered in the little light that seeped through the branches of the tree. It was a beautiful sight. He was soon an arm length from her when she stopped digging and turned around revealing her eyes of green and blue. He recognized those eyes and the face of the girl before him.

“Anthea?” Sky managed to say as he stood before her in shock. Hazel whistled in amusement when he saw Anthea saying, “Looks like the NPC appeared again in this hidden quest.”

Anthea stood still as she looked at Sky and Hazel.

Sky gulped with a blush on his cheek and stated, “Long time no see. Do you remember me?”

“Ah come on, Sky. She can’t answer…”

“Yes.”

Hazel and Sky’s eyes widened as they looked at Anthea.

“What did you say?” asked Sky wondering if his ears deceived him.

Anthea clenched the shovel in her hands as she looked at them with almost dead eyes.

“I remember you, Swordsman…no, Sky.”

Sky was shaking in shock, while Hazel stared dumbfounded wondering how Anthea was able to answer back in a non-automatic voice. Sky shook his head and regained his composure as he looked at Anthea trying to hold back his excitement.

“Can you tell me what happened here?”

Anthea was once again silent and Sky was worried that she was going to say an automatic line again, but was shocked when tears began to escape her eyes.

“Anthea?” asked Sky in a panic, wondering if he said something that offended her, but the next thing he knew, Anthea had dropped the shovel and pressed herself against his chest making him fall still with a bright red face filled with confusion.

“Anthea?”

“He killed them all.”

Sky’s face returned to its normal shade as he looked at Anthea’s crying form.

“Who?”

“The Dragon Lord.”

Sky and Hazel’s eyes grew wide. In the game, they only ever saw the Dragon Lord at his mountain where the final boss fight took place, ever since the game gained awareness, and yet he came down from that mountain just to attack this village. As Anthea cried, confusion filled the heroes’ hearts.

 

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