Somnium – The MMORPG
"I'd guess we DO need some help." I bit my lips. "Considering how little damage we dealt to that crazy old bloke, why not?"
Fang tugged Ellielza by her cloak and whispered in her ear whilst glancing at us like some sort of criminal.
"It's fine, I know him." Ellielza smiled and gave her a little pat on the shoulder.
Fang just crossed her arms and gazed at somewhere else with her lips twitched, indicating a heap of dissatisfaction.
We then talked about the founding of our guild, what happened in Halloween and the spending craze going on earlier.
"Are you SERIOUS?" Ellielza laughed as she clicked a few icons on a window that she summoned earlier. "You bought a giant rubber duck and surfed with it in your mansion?!"
For a moment I thought I saw a little smirk on Fang's face, which then disappeared in a blink of an eye. As a cheerful person, I thought it was such a shame that she wasn't smiling much.
A window labeled "TEMPORARY PARTY FORMATION" with all of our usernames listed appeared in front of us. Without hesitation, I agreed to the conditions.
The temporary party was formed.
Another window appeared in front of me.
"GUILD AFFILIATION AGREEMENT"
As a person with a hasty nature, I didn't even go through the details and agreed.
"THE UNDERTAKERS ARE NOW AFFILIATED WITH THE VALKYRIES"
Wait... The Valkyries. I thought I had heard of it before... Somewhere in the forums perhaps?
"Is that your guild? Have I heard of it? It sounds awfully familiar." I asked.
"You might probably have." Ellielza nodded and pointed. "Should we head in?"
I raised my head and examined the colossal tower we would be climbing. Like most of the surrounding architecture, it is also made of white clay, except it emitted an aura, an air of purity. Arches and arches of giant windows, cleanly cut directly from the wall, ringed around the outer walls of the tower. Each ring of windows were periodically separated as the tower progresses upwards, vanishing into the clouds from my perspective.
"Woah…" Alex muttered.
"It's not like the Tower's gonna come towards us." Snapped Fang. "Get your asses moving already."
The Vault's giant blue doors, as if aware of our presence, opened slowly, revealing a rather dark corridor leading to its core.
Together, we stepped in.
"VAULT OF HEAVEN, MT. PURGATORY PEAK" A window appeared above us.
"They're not gonna make it." I reckoned a passerby said as we entered.
"No way they could make it." Said another player.
I looked back to see the doors closing as the others continued to venture deeper down the corridor. The arched shaped light by the entrance slowly diminished into a thin line of brightness, then disappearing into nothing. It felt like being a sealed within a tomb.
The girls, took their hikarite lamps out to illuminate the path, were surprised to see how much brighter Lunaria's refined version were than theirs when Alex and I took out ours.
Following the corridor, it seemed to spiral and incline upwards. I checked at my clock from the menu: we had been walking for hours.
My legs grew sour from the fatigue, Freeze was complaining about the walk and everyone was hungry.
Just then, something stung my eyes. Something bright: a ray of light by a flight of stairs at the end of the corridor.
"PHOTONS! FINALLY!" Exclaimed Alex.
Freeze was clapping his flippers by his feet.
Ever so fatigued and motivated, we all rushed towards the light that replenished our hope that had dissipated on our way up.
Fang widened her eyes, presumably surprised from what she saw as we emerged from the 'tunnel'.
"Well that's unexpected." Commented Ellielza.
The tunnel lead us to a hole on the floor of what I think was the first chamber of the Vault, which was the size of about three classrooms. Unlike what I had expected, the room as filled with all sorts of flora and fauna, all of them neatly arranged into a nice garden. I couldn't sense any form of hostility here.
The white ceiling of the chamber was way above twenty-five metres. A ring of windows could be found just a little beneath the ceiling, illuminating the room nicely.
The light rays from every single window eventually fell on an arcane tree that stood in the middle of the chamber. Though ancient, the leaves' waxy cuticle shined healthily under the light; the tree trunk stood strong and proud; the roots anchored itself to the ground securely. Among the branches and leaves hung a glossy crimson fruit. Only one could be found on the tree. It would be a magnificent plant specimen if it wasn't virtual. There weren't any plants around it, apart from the grass covering the ground. It seemed as if the other plants backed off from it at a respectable distance on their own will.
There wasn't a sign of a flight of stairs or some sort of thing that could transport us to the next chamber. It seemed like a dead end, but I highly doubted it.
"Well, it seems like a good spot to have a picnic here..." I said as we gathered around under the shade of the primordial tree.
"I knew this would come in handy." Ellielza laid out a checked cloth on the ground while Fang took out a sandwich from her canvas bag.
"I'm not sharing." She said coldly then took a munch, staring blankly at a little flower nearby.
"Seems I've got mail." I checked my menu.
"Same." Said Alex.
I opened my inbox. A message from Violet? And an attachment too.
I poked the message.
A traditional Japanese bento box pixelised out of nowhere and formed on the ground next to me.
I opened the box. Unsurprisingly, it was filled with all sorts of sushi, except that they were all of my favourite ones: salmon, eel, scallop, sea urchin, etc.
I picked a salmon one and took a bite. The temperature was all right, the rice wasn't too sour, the amount of wasabi in it was just right. My hunger bar filled up by a bit.
"Jaycee, you'd better come back with lots of loot!" Violet's voice memo popped out from the message.
With gratitude, I sent back a reply of thanks and started my lunch.
I sat there gazing across the room and found Fang staring at my sushi after she finished her sandwich (most likely she was jealous). I then asked if she wanted some of my lunch.
"It's... It's not like I'm hungry!" She blushed a bit as she tried denying.
"Tsundere..." I muttered.
"I'm not a tsundere! I'm a yandere!"
"At any rate, you're still not very convincing. Here have some." I chucked a few pieces of tuna slices in her sandwich box.
Apparently Alex got something from Lunaria. I thought he was too shy to show us what it was, as he was hiding at a corner, preventing us from peaking to see he'd got.
"Hey guys, look at this." Ellielza was reading the inscriptions on a stone pedestal erected next to the entrance. I didn't notice that earlier.
"Welcome to the Garden of Arcadia. Thou shalt not steal the Fruit of Knowledge of Good and Evil, for the Tree would unleash its wrath upon thee." She read. "With that said, it's clearly telling us to do it." She turned to us.
We stared at the red fruit hanging in the tree.
"I ain't doing it. I'm Christian." Alex said.
I tugged out my crucifix necklace I bought days ago.
"You guys are such pussies." Fang mumbled and unsheathed a silver dagger from her belt. "Watch."
The dagger suddenly vanished from her hands. She didn't even twitch a muscle.
"Look." She said.
The fruit fell from the branches, landed softly on the grass beneath.
Fang walked over to collect her weapon, while we surrounded the fruit.
"Now what?" Alex asked. "It's not like we could advance with that chopped off."
"Shhh... Something's not right..." Ellielza frowned. "Something's just not right..." She grabbed her 'wooden pillar' like a Gatling gun.
I braced myself with my scythe.
Alex formed a pair of ice dual blades.
Freeze prepared a snowball.
Silence. The air was still. I could hear nothing but the leaves of the tree rustling. The shadows of the branches twisted and turned on the grass. Wait...There wasn't any wind. How could it-
"EVERYONE! MOVE AWAY FROM THE TREE!" I shouted as I dashed back.
"Huh?" Questioned Fang.
A sharp screech filled the air, closely similar to a woman screaming in rage.
To be Continued…