Since I don’t feel like writing a Psychobabble today, I’ll give you Chapter 8 of DLO instead. Happy times! Also, you might be wondering what’s up with the Character Profiles…. I’m wondering about that too…. I just haven’t been into my art recently. But eh, I’ll get back to it. I promise! I’ll finish up the characters designs in time.
I walked past Sheol’s suite, eyeing the large mob of players clamoring around the entrance. This was Sheol’s second to last day in Incipio and people desperately wanted to see her before she left. I had to get inside her suite though… Get in without attracting a crowd like last time. The letter I had “repurposed” from Warrior contained two things, a short congratulation for winning the novice bracket and invitation to visit her suite before she departed Incipio. Being that I was a good friend of the Princess, I figured she wouldn’t mind me taking the invitation in place of Warrior. I just had to get in her suite one way or another.
I turned around, walking past Sheol’s suite once again. Since the front was out of the picture, I decided to go though a nearby alleyway of a building two doors down and try the back. A locked steel door was the only back entrance. Tugging and banging on the door only amounted to yells from the guards within. Looking over the building, I noticed an open window on the third floor. I sighed. Well I entered Magnes’ shop through the chimney… Entering through a window should be easy enough.
I took a few steps back and checked my surroundings. Garbage, sewer grates, and stray cats were the only things around me. I was clear to go. With my back to Sheol’s suite, I dashed up to the opposite building, jumping to grab onto a ledge. Immediately, I kicked off the ledge and spun around mid air. I reached out to the windowsill of the suite, my hand falling barely an inch short. Without hesitation, I pulled my kunai out and charged a small bit of energy. “Striking Edge!”
I made a beeline for the open window, slipping straight into the room. The small amount of energy I charged ended up being too much. My angle and acceleration made me slam my head on the ceiling then ricochet off, slamming my face on the tiled floor. My heartbeat pounded throughout my body as I laid on the floor, a small puddle of blood collecting under my head. The cool tiles felt nice on my face. It took me a moment, but I was eventually able to stand up, the throbbing beat of my heart echoing in my ears. Once my senses came too, I noticed I was in a bathroom. Thankfully it wasn’t occupied.
After using the sink to wash the blood off of my face, I pulled open the bathroom door to see a guard with his hand held out to where the doorknob was. “Why hello there! I, uh… left a bit of a mess in there.”
The guard whipped around, about to take off down the hall. Before he could get anywhere, I hit the square of his back with an open palm then chopped at the side of his neck. The guard flinched, letting out a slight yelp. I really needed to invest in my physical strength… I decided to lock my arms around the guard’s neck instead, squeezing strained gargles out of his throat. Once his body eventually went limp, I threw him into the bathroom, locked the door, then went on my way.
I snuck down the hallway, peering into each room I passed. I found nothing of interest, just bedrooms and closets. From what I remembered of my previous visit, the second floor contained meeting and entertainment rooms while the first floor had the kitchen, dining room, and a large dojo. I went through the rooms on the second floor, still unable to find The Princess. Either she was eating with some guests or training in the dojo. Or she had already left the suite, though I doubted that option. I went down the final flight of stairs, sneaking past all the guards on duty. Rather easily now that I thought about it. The only guy I had trouble with was the dude in the bathroom. Maybe it would be a good idea to tell Sheol about him…
Past the main hall was the dining room then the kitchen. The dojo wasn’t actually in the suite, but in the adjacent building. Japanese style sliding doors led from the suite to the dojo. Making sure no one was around; I slowly slid the screen door open to see a long silver blade pointed directly at me. Holding the blade to my throat, Sheol grabbed my shoulder and dragged me to the middle of the dojo, forcing me down to the mat. She then slammed her knee into my gut and repositioned her blade just under my chin. “Hey there… Pri-Princess…!” I croaked.
“Aegis, close the screen.” Sheol looked over her shoulder at the general, “With you on the outside.”
The general clenched his hands, slowly and tightly. Two loud cracks burst from his knuckles.
“If this goes sour, I promise you, I’ll let you kill her.”
“I’ll gladly do so, Princess.”
With the room clear of the large man, Sheol took her knee off my stomach. “Stand up,” she commanded, her sword held out at lengths end. I did as she said without hesitation. “Although I knew you’d come here, I didn’t expect you to sneak in through a window.”
“It’s not your turn to speak!” A whimper was my reply. Sheol closed her eyes, breathing in through her nose then letting the air out through her mouth. Her eyes shot open, her icy blue irises piercing me. “I’m stocking that up as a show of your resourcefulness. Now, I desire to test how well you do in combat.” Sheol motioned to my kunai with her sword.
“I said I wish to test your combat prowess, now hold up your arms.”
“Yeah, sure, of course… I’ll just beat up the Princess…” I pulled out my kunai, spinning them around in my fingers. The right knife flew out of my hand after a few twirls. I quickly scrambled to the floor, grabbing the sharp part of the knife and cutting my hand.
Sheol scoffed. “I’d be impressed if you even land a hit on me.” Before I could retort, a potion was thrown at my feet. “Drink that, then we’ll begin.”
A good chuck of my health was already missing, so I accepted the potion. I darted back once I got to full. I took a breath before getting into a fight stance; my arms close to my body with my knives held backhanded. Sheol merely folded her free arm behind her back, keeping her thin blade pointed directly at me. A moment passed as I examined The Princess. She wasn’t wearing her usual purple dress, but a light purple karate top and black spandex shorts. While her crown and armored boots remained, the sash she used to hold her scabbard was not around her waist. Yet another moment passed, no movement from either side.
“Are… are we starting…?” Sheol slid towards me, busting my lip with the hilt of her sword. I stumbled back as Sheol stood still, waiting for me to respond. “That was a cheap shot…” I muttered as blood dripped from my mouth. Attempting to do the same, I rolled forward and sent my fist to the pale face of The Princess. The thin blade knocked my hand out of the way while a metallic foot collided with my cheek. I fell to my side, feeling the dull end of Sheol’s sword striking my back.
“You’d be dead,” she added.
Bouncing back to my feet, I returned to my fight stance. “Cause of that cheap hit! I thought you’d say go or… something!”
Sheol shook her head, “Alright you ready? Let’s go.”
I immediately dashed forward, my upper body held low to the ground. Right when I got to The Princess, I faked a left hook then brought my other arm around. Sheol grabbed my wrist mid swing as her knee hit my gut followed by her head smacking against mine. I reeled back, my hands rushing to my forehead. With the back of her blade, Sheol swiped at me twice, hitting my torso in an X formation.
My eyes were shut tight; heartbeats were pulsing in my head. “Well… you got me there…” I shook my head, pushing about the pounding. “But now I’m playing for real!” My burning red eyes met her icy blues. I rushed forward once again, this time jumping after my initial dash. Somersaulting in the air, I curled up tight and brought my leg down on Sheol, my heel hitting her blade instead. Sheol then sidestepped to let me tumble onto the floor. I hit the ground with my hands in an attempt to springboard myself to my feet. Putting pressure on my left foot immediately caused me to lose my balance. My heel had struck the sharp part of Sheol’s sword and split open slightly. Then same heel that had ripped in half over the weekend…
While players could be healed from any and all injuries, most major bodily harm would have lingering, negative effects. Getting burned to death would decrease fire resistance by the smallest of margins. Getting frequent back wounds would increase the amount of damage done to your back. And having a part of your body get separated from the rest of you body… Made that body part more susceptible to being cut off. There were ways to cleanse the body of these negative effects, but those ways were the farthest thing from easy.
Cold metal suddenly caressed the side of my neck. “Dead,” was all The Princess said.
Ignoring the pain in my heel, I stood up, facing Sheol. “Why’d you use the sharp side of your sword?! Whatever, I don’t care! We’re doing this again!” Bobbing and weaving, I delivered a flurry of swift strikes. Every strike was met with a loud clank as my kunai stuck Sheol’s blade. Things slowly started tipping in Sheol’s favor as my stamina began to drop, each of my swings getting progressively weaker. With all my strength, I swiped at the silver blade, causing Sheol recoil and giving me enough time to retreat. I threw my hand into my pocket then flung my arm across my body, several needles flew out of my hand. The Princess cut through every needle with a single swing.
I threw another wave of needles, then immediately began charging energy. I had to at least get one hit on her! With Sheol distracted by my needles for only a second, I bolted forward. “Striking Edge!” Instead of slicing past Shoel, my kunai crashed into her blade. The impact sent my knife shooting out of my hand while my body merely stumbled past Sheol. A powerful kick to my back then sent my flying to the ground.
Sheol followed up by holding her blade at her side, where her sheath would have been. She swung her left leg across the matted floor in a semi-circle and closed her eyes. A single exhale fled from her lips as light blue energy swirled around her blade. She was readying an ability! I struggled to get to my feet, my torn ankle hindering me greatly. Unable to gain my balance, I flung my remaining kunai at Sheol, trying to by some time. The Princess merely lowered her body, ducking right under the thrown kunai. Swiftly, yet smoothly, Sheol withdrew her sword from her side in one large, diagonal swipe. “Diamond Iai!”
Sheol suddenly seemed to slide towards me as the swipe cut right through my stomach. A trail of light blue energy and small, sparkling crystals followed the blade. Sheol had somehow slipped right though me, leaving my body glued to the point. Behind me, The Princess held her position. Her blade outstretched to her right. She then stood up straight, returning her blade to her side as I collapsed. My eyes fell shut for a moment then flickered open, seeing The Princess crouched in front of me. I used the remains of my energy to lift my head up, gazing up at Sheol.
I let my head fall, smacking my forehead on the mat.
An hour later, I barged into my temporary residence, startling Lith at the counter. I had conflicted feelings. Even though I failed to land a single hit on Sheol when we sparred, she deemed my “combat prowess” good enough to be of use on Friday, when she would leave Incipio. She had offered me the mission of traveling with her and her convoy. While I was glad to have been given another mission from The Princess, I wouldn’t be working alone. Another player was offered to help out, Warrior of Divinity. Apparently he had read Sheol’s letter before I had taken it for myself, so he knew The Princess wanted to see him. And Warrior had eagerly accepted the mission…
I was only asked to tag along because Dizzy Wizzy, who had been given the same letter Warrior had gotten, didn’t feel like helping out The Princess. Sheol wanted two players to accompany her on her leave and I was her only option left. I wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t stolen, I mean repurposed, Warrior’s letter. Or if that elf chick had successfully taken it from me. I guess one of the players hanging around Sheol’s suite would have been asked to tag along on the mission. Anywho, if Warrior knew what I had done… He’d surely kill me on Friday.
“Miss Psycho, are you okay? You don’t look your best,” Lith inquired, her head slightly tilted to her side. She always seemed to tilt her head when talking to me. Even though the NPCs in the game were amazing, every now and again I’d be reminded they’re just AI. Lith was probably programmed to tilt her head in an endearing manner when addressing players.
“Ehhh… I just had a little run in with Sheol. Erm, I mean The Princess. Princess Sheol.”
“Oh, how did it go? From what I know of The Princess, she doesn’t take too kindly to adventurers.”
I walked over to counter, resting my arms on the polished wooden surface. “I think it went well enough… I mean other than the fact that she pretty much beat the shit outta me…”
Worry filled the elf’s face. “I hope she didn’t hurt you too bad! How do feel now? Are you still hurt? I can give you potion if it’ll help. Free of charge!”
I giggled, shaking my head. “It’s okay, it’s fine. Calm down Lith…”
The counter Elf gave me a small pout, but didn’t saying anything.
“Oh, hey, I got something to tell you. I’m sure Magnes would like to hear it…” Once again, I was met with a slight tilt of the head. “I’ll be out of here on Friday. I’ll be gone for, like… maybe a week or so? Sheol asked me to travel with her convoy when she leaves the city.”
“Oh, is that so. I’ll be sad to see you go, but I’m sure Magnes won’t mind,” Lith said with small giggle. “Oh that reminds me! Magnes has something to say to you…” Lith looked into the shed, seeing Magnes pounding away on her anvil. “Maggie, Miss Psycho is here. Don’t you have something to say to her?”
The sound of metal slamming against metal stopped. Magnes groaned from the shed. A few seconds later, the burly elf walked into the store in a huff.
“While you girls have a quick chat, I’ll be doing some restocking in the backroom. And Magnes,” Lith began in her strict tone, “be nice.” The petite elf gave me a warm smile before walking off.
I ran my tongue over my bottom lip, mild apprehension building within me. “Hey, you…”
Magnes stood before me, her arms crossed over her chest and her eyes focused on something behind me. “I’m…” A deep breathe. “I’m sorry for what happened over the weekend, chasing you down the stairs and throwing the thing at you… Oh, and just a overall sorry for, uh, for how I’ve treated you in general…”
My response was an awkward laugh. “That’s all fine. I was just messing with you that day anyways. Though I never figured Lith swung that way…”
Magnes narrowed her eyes, though her gaze still wasn’t on me. “I don’t know what you mean. Just… take my apology!”
A voice boomed from the backroom, “Magnes! Be nice!”
The younger sister groaned. “Whatever, I’ve said my piece! I’m going back to work…”
Lith piped up from the backroom once again. “Aren’t you forgetting something!?”
Another groan. “Fiiiine…” Magnes’ eyes darted to me. “And as a show of my apologies and blah, blah, blah, I’ll do something for you, a smith thing, on the house…” Her voice grew louder, her head turned to the backroom. “I’ll be making something for you, for free, FOR A SECOND TIME!!”
“Uh, thanks. I don’t really have anything in mind that I want made though…” I snapped my fingers, “Oh I know!” Opening up my inventory, I pulled out the antlers I had cut off the demon deer. I handed the antlers to Magnes with a smile. “Here, make me something out of this.”
Magnes looked the antlers over. “What…?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know, just make me something out of them.”
Magnes furrowed her brow. “Something…?”
“Yeah, something, anything… I don’t know, just use the antlers.”
“You little…” Air blasted out of the elf’s nose. “I take back my apology!”
“Magnes!” Lith yelled.
“But she’s being difficult!”
“Well you should be nice!”
“I don’t like being nice!”
“Do want me to come over there!?”
Magnes slammed her teeth together, shooting me a death glare. Her voice lowered to barely audible whisper. “I hate you…”
“I heard that!”
“I hate both of you!!”