99 Shenanigans Resume
Carmen Fucking Rose.
In the virtual flesh.
What a small world!
A bunch of notifications are going off, but I ignore them to relish this crazy, amazing moment.
The hug is warm and wonderful, and somehow even better now that I know for sure the person on the other side of those pixels is a real-life girl!
And one with nice, real-life girl things, like boobs and all her teeth. \\( *o*)/
(To be painfully honest, I think I'm half-smitten enough that if she had turned out to be a giant, bearded dude named Chuck who lives in his Mama's basement, I may have still thought about it...But now we'll never have to know! Hurray!)
Since she really is a girl, her avatar is likely accurate looks-wise, since she looks almost exactly the same as she did in the beta. This blows my mind because I so DO NOT remember Carmen being this drop-dead gorgeous when I was a kid. I haven't seen her in almost eight years, though, so it's possible puberty was REALLY good to her...
Or I was just a gamer-obsessed idiot who never fucking paid attention...
Guess we'll never know!
I do know, however, that I look almost nothing like my dweeb-tastic 14-year-old self, and I can only thank the gods for that.
I lean back in the embrace to get a better look at grown-up Carmen Rose, and I see her searching my face, too. There's something wistful in her expression, sad, but at the same time, greedy, like she's trying to memorize my features before it's too late or something.
I'm guessing she's thinking about Xiuying.
We both open our mouths to speak, but before either of us can get a word out, an enraged shout rings out from across the field, and we immediately draw our weapons and drop into defensive formation. My right wing and her left overlap as we both try to step in front and protect the other.
Even as my adrenaline pumps in anticipation of battle, my heart soars at how close I feel to this amazing woman at my side.
I twirl Zen'aku, ready to take on this next challenge—
—and then the attacker ruins the atmosphere by being an absolute edgelord:
"BOXERS BRO! PREPARE TO MEET YOUR DOOM! VENGEANCE SHALL BE MINE!"
My eyes roll so hard I'm surprised I don't get a look at my own brain.
"How do you attract all these Extra™ jackasses?" Nightfury grumbles. Nanuk nods in agreement and sighs.
"Hey! I don't even know this one!" I protest, pouting.
Snickering, Taliesin sheathes Excalibur and pulls up his filming function. "Actually, Erebus," he says between giggles, "you do know this guy."
I raise my eyebrows in surprise. "I do?" I squint at the guy's gamer tag: Alexander_the_Mediocre, a Lvl 3 Rakshasa with a mostly-humanoid face.
Taliesin nods meaningfully at Zen. "That's the thief from your first viral video!"
"Oh for fuck's sake," I mutter, rising out of my combat stance.
"My quarrel is only with you, Boxers Bro!" the aptly-named thief cries, then turns to Kara. "Fair Maiden, please stand aside so I do not accidentally bring harm to you."
I snort and try to cover it with a cough, but then I see Kara's expression and can't hold it in. Wheezing with laughter, I step in front of her, this time to protect him, not her.
"Yo, Alex, my man," I manage to say, "I get you're into role-play, but, uh, you're playing a man-eating tiger demon, not some knight of the realm. And this girl is definitely no distressed damsel."
His red-tinged eyes flash, and he straight-up growls at me, brandishing his knife.
This might be more intimidating if he wasn't holding one of the shite Yellow-level knives I thought were letter-openers and sold via the in-game auction house.
I bust out laughing again, and double over, clutching my stomach.
"Arghhh!" Alexander_the_Mediocre roars, and he runs at me.
Even without my AGI, I sidestep him without even needing my Dodge Skill. "Whoa, calm down, dude."
"NEVER!" he yells, predictably. "I have come to avenge myself! I was locked out of the game for 36 hours because of you; I just managed to get back in! Luckily my friends found me a teleportation scroll so I could seek my revenge!"
"You're one of those people who talk in exclamation points, aren't you?" I rub my poor, abused ears and curse my high Perception that makes his strident yelling sound even louder. "If I have to kill you again, you're going to be locked out for another 36 hours. The game explained the Curse to you, right?"
He bares his fangs and growls again, which I take as a 'yes.'
"You won't kill me!" he declares, stepping barely more than arm-length away. "I came prepared; I've been plotting since the moment I died! I borrowed money from all my friends so I could buy this!"
And then he whips out a Blue-Tier exploding rune.
Taliesin whistles in appreciation. That sucker's badass enough to take us all out.
I wants it.
I needs it.
I FangBite the idiot's wrist to disarm it and steal it before he even finishes his "I am Vengeance!" Monologue.
"Hey! That's cheating!" he whines.
I give him a flat look. "Says the guy who tried to rob my blade from my underwear sheath?"
"Ooh, let me see the rune," Nanuk says, icy eyes gleaming. I toss it to him, but I forgot AGI affects aim, so the throw is short. Nanuk manages to grab it no problem, but I automatically bend forward to try and catch it as well.
Alexander takes the opportunity while I'm slightly off-center to stab me with his dinky letter opener.
"Whoops. Shouldn't have done that," I warn, but of course, it's too late.
Once again, poor Alex_the_Mediocre is auto-slain by one of my items.
"Boom, Ass-Ass-In-ated!" Taliesin shouts gleefully, zooming in on my lethal undies.
"DAMN YOU, BOXERS BROOOOO!" Alex screams dramatically before disappearing into a million blue particles.
"Bye, Alex," I wave. "Ooh, goodies!" I cheer when I realize he's once again dropped one of his stored Items. Leather Greaves (leg armor) this time, that Increase Movement Speed and Enhance any Attacks the attached boots have. "Nice."
One of the angry blinking notifications that had popped up after the Boss fight automatically moves out of my periphery into my sight line as I bend over to grab the greaves, but I only have eyes for my prize. I'm grinning and shaking my booty a little since I'm sure Taliesin is still awkwardly zoomed in on my ass.
And then I hear the sound effect that still haunts me from Day One:
The tinkling of broken glass that signifies an item's Durability has depleted.
I finally focus on the notification and feel my blood run cold.
...And that's how I find out only the game-made underwear are Immortal Objects.