Both the elf and maiden broke out in laughter at the irony of his whining. The dragon joined in the laugh, tired of its own antics, it lowered its head until its eyes were level with Cyril. “Did you enjoy your last raid, sweetie?”
Cyril smiled at the large dragon, her expression signaling she was currently mulling over the question. The dragon’s bloodied brows raised slowly as his face inched forward with boiling anticipation to the girl’s answer. The maiden’s metallic gold eyes floated away the closer his face got until the dragon finally figured it out that she was just being dramatic and leading him by the nose. His head reared back with a click of his massive tongue, but before he could say anything, a sweet voice called out. “Don’t mock your father, honey.”
An oval portal opened up to the left of the group, its border a thick spiral of sparks that turned with a mad fury – a few sparks jumping from the circle before it faded into the surroundings. The portal’s heart was nothing but a pitch-black void where a single fair-skinned maiden appeared out of. The new woman had long curly hair that cascaded off both sides of her head, increasing in volume the closer it got toward the top of her breasts where it ended. Her hair was a deep orange like an autumn leaf. Set between her lush hair was two mesmerizing silver eyes that glowed faintly above her high cheekbones.
“You know your father has been working night n’ day just to get the servers to handle the about of hoop’ la’ that went into this raid.” The woman scolded Cyril softly. Cyril only smiled at the woman before she turned to her dad, the large bloodied dragon. “Yeah. It was great.” She said before turning back to the new woman and embracing her in a warm hug. “Thanks for helping, Mom.” The dragon only huffed. “We were fine, Madin. You didn’t need to step in.” The dragon’s form dispersed into thousands of black particles before revealing a tall tanned human with short salt n’ pepper hair that was slicked back. Two crimson eyes looked over the two girls sweetly before he embraced both of them together before let go of them to shake Jax’s hand.
“No, I did. You two would have taken the joke the jokes too far and then both of you would’ve been mad at each other. I’ll have none of that today.” Madin’s voice was heavy with her Scottish accent and her silver eyes rolled in exasperation. “No more of that.” Madin cut off her husband before he could retort and turned to Jax who stood on the sideline patiently. “Thanks for coming. It means the world to us that you come. Especially for our Cyril.” A soft smile was present on her face as she gave the moon elf a friendly hug. “I’m sorry we couldn’t let you into the hospital, the -” Jax cut her off with a nod. “It’s fine, Mom. The doctor was right. It’s going to be hard to deal with the two of you tomorrow, he doesn’t need to deal with me too.
The playful atmosphere quickly turned solemn as everyone but Cyril began to turn from each other least they begin to break down. Cyril quickly tugged on Jax’s hand “Hey, you all promised not to do this again.” She growled. “Save it for when I’m gone. I want you all to smile today!” She pointed her finger to her parents. “Y-Yeah.” Her father’s voice was faint with the grief that filled Jax and Madin. “Well, we’ll get everything ready. You have fun with the mountain. Make sure it’s beautiful. I don’t want no damn unicorns or anything.” Madin spoke up, glaring at her daughter knowing full well that she’d place one just to toy with her. They both hated unicorns, but that didn’t stop each other from gifting unicorns or leaving unicorns around as jokes.
“I’ll leave a big one right at the gate.” Cyril beamed with a large mischievous grin that was meant to make her mother laugh. It did while at the same time breaking Madin’s heart into thousands of pieces
. . . . . . .
Cyril stood beneath a large pergola; its roof hexagon in shape and built from grey wood. The pillars were made from thick beams nearly the size of her as it held up the weight of the structure and the plants that crawled over it. Large roses grew from the vines that nestled themselves between every crevice with large roses that resembled small suns. Tipped in red before it faded into a soft orange, the roses reflexed wonderfully into the mirror surface of the pond that surrounded the structure.
Cyril looked out over the pond and the steep towering cliffs that encircled the small valley. Her eyes were clear and beautiful, but her heart was dark and clouded as her thoughts raced through her memories – clinging to them for dear life as she gripped the vine-covered rail.
The sudden clapping of water freed her from her thoughts and she turned to see who was coming. A tall Moon Elf dressed in a deep purple tunic, black leather pants and boots stepped across the pond as if he was walking upon the water some god, but it was only the stone walkway nearly a quarter of an inch beneath the surface. A smile played on his face, just as his eyes were as stepped up onto the pergola. “Beautiful zone you’ve designed.” He said with softly as he placed his hand gently upon the small of Cyril’s back. It sucks that it’s going to be locked away forever.” Both of them turned to look over the valley for a few moments before Cyril finally decided to speak up.
“Dad said he was going to leave access open to you.” Her voice was small and strained, but her expression was as stoic as the NPCs that dotted the world. Jax concluded she was masking her emotions, though he wanted her to freely express it, he wasn’t going to nitpick her today. If she wanted to curse the world, he’d curse it with her.
The leaves rustled as a breeze passed by, though, they seemed to only sway back in forth in a mechanical fashion. Cyril did not seem to mind. Maybe it was because this was the only motions she knew for a long time. In fact, Cyril had long forgotten what smell or the warmth of another being’s touch. The roses did not smell anymore better than the farmlands outside the Adventurer Capital, nor did it smell any worse than the sewers beneath Rat’s Refuge. The kiss of the sun was just as cold as the freezing waters within the polar zone. The only warmth she ever felt was in her heart when she was with Jax. It was a numbing feeling she had long become accustomed too, the memories of what these feelings were had long been buried in the fog of time.
Jax, however, noticed it all. How beautiful of an imagination she had, but how dull it had become. In the years of her joining this world, she had helped create such beautiful areas that it was unrivaled by other games. Now that the years have long slipped by, the beauty she once saw in everything had been stripped away like how the river cut the land. Yet, the beauty he thought she had long lost in this unfeeling virtual world was had blossomed again… like the last hiccup of energy one felt before they died…
The couple left the pergola as Jax’s insistence for a grand tour of her last creation.
Across the submerged path, rested a large Viking longhouse with a grassy roof and short stone wall. Grey wisps of smoke fluttered from the stone chimney that protruded from the house’s center. The walls that encircled the valley met behind her home and towered over the longhouse by a hundred feet at least. “So, did your dad let you crop off his mountain?” Jax said, remembering how much taller the mountain had been yesterday as a few passing clouds grazed the tip of the tallest peak. “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.” Cyril answered with the first smile she had shown him all day and his heart melted at the sight.
The two walked hand in hand across a small beaten dirt trail as they skimmed the right edge of the pond until they came to the short staircase. To its left, three short drops lead down into a small creek that ran straight as an arrow. Lined with stones, it cut the valley in half through the sparse oak tree forest. Tens of wooden huts were visible through the trees where High-Elf NPCs went about their scripted lives. Some endlessly haggled with merchants while some sat beside the creek and dipped their feet in the water.
While the elves lived among the tree, the leaves were still lush and vibrate; the forest was hardly touched as well thought out paths avoided the thickest of the undergrowth. Each and every item here was placed personally by Cyril and Jax had to take off his metaphorical hat off to her creativity. “So, which came first? The elves of the forest?” Jax asked as they followed the path into the elven village. “Neither, the walls actually did. I built it from the outside in.” Cyril asked as she observed her creation with a critical eye and picking out all the things she felt could be changed. Albeit, it didn’t matter anyway as there was not enough time to load the creation tools and move whatever bugged her.
“That’s odd.” Jax looked at her with confusion in his eyes. “I thought you always started with the NPCs first?” That was how she had always done it; he was now curious to the sudden change in her process. “Yeah, but this place wasn’t meant to be admired, well at least not by other people. It’s supposed to be my tomb, right?” She looked up at him with an awkward smile. “It’s supposed to be a caldera. The lore goes that once the battle was finished, the gods struck the mountain top to destroy the ritual site and the volcano erupted. When the Goddess of Creation, yours truly -” She pointed at herself proudly, taking the title in-game with pleasure.
The sudden boast had tickled Jax’s heart and he chuckled at her. “Yes, you’re our goddess.” He smiled and patted her back. “No, I meant literally.” Cyril held her hand in front of her and the air shimmered. Golden light particles formed and created a small golden orb in her hand. “Dad actually gave me the game’s source code along with the world editor program. Not that little dev’ program that has to go through approval processes. This little bad boy is actually apart of coding now. I am literally the center of this world.” She grinned, a look that meant trouble. “I can turn you into a girl.”
. . . . . . . .
A large oak tree, nearly half the mountain’s height, towering over the village below its canopy. White orbs floated through the air, illuminating the festival-goers below who sang, danced and fought across the wide span of fields around the village. Elf bards played their lutes as players said their horrid and ill-remembered songs to their heart’s content.
Thousands of figures in a myriad of colors and armors mulled around iron golems who carried refreshments in their overly large hands. It was Cyril’s Festival of Life.
While the festival was some self-serving thing her father had thought up, most players didn’t actually mind as they were many things to do within the newly made village beneath the now refurbished volcano. Achievements and rewards were handed out like candies on Halloween. Codes for different games, cash vouchers, and other things were in the pool of games that were to be played within the area and they were all the more willing to come.
While Cyril was the game’s mascot, she wasn’t universally liked. While she was on the game’s cover, she was also an administrator that had to hand out punishments. She dealt with thousands of people and their issues, most were happy for her help, but there were people they also didn’t like her. “Must be nice to have rich fucking parents.” An orc complained as he leaned against one of the tables. “Yeah, the bitch must be head over heels that she can get shit like this.” Another orc grumbled. Both these players were people who had been handed out recent punishments for misbehavior. “Maybe we shou-” The player disappeared in a haze of black mist with a small holographic screen that read “Player has been permanently banned.” The remaining orc froze, stunned by the sudden ban that came out like an arrow from the darkness.
“Wha-” The remaining orc also disappeared into a haze of black and only leaving a similar screen.
Cyril sat back in a large ornate chair with Fenrir by her feet. To her left was Akyryss, one of her followers. She was a big breasted woman, clad in silky with emerald eyes. Her hair was the color of snow – the same as her master. She looked playful and laid back while on Cyril’s right was her last NPC follower, Glynii. Glynii had purple skin with black inky eyes and hair. She had a serious look upon her face that you’d expect a guard to be. One was serious while one was playful, however, their personalities were written different. Akyryss was often unbendable in her ways while Glynii had a soft heart. Fenrir was written as a wise old man, but Fenrir was different from these two.
Fenrir was an actual AI design to came tabs on her mental state. He had been with her the longest. While he did not speak, his functions were linked to the hospital and to her father’s computer. So, in a sense, he was Avery’s jailer as well. Though, she didn’t mind it anymore. With the world code, she had full control over her NPCs now and her father could no longer spy on her. While it was only for a day, Cyril felt it was nice to have some semblance of privacy and peace. So, for the day, she treated the three as her beast friends, though technically, she was the two girl’s foster mother by lore.
As she looked over the ramble, her thoughts lingered on how many actually cared about her? How many pretended to care? How many false condolences were being handed to them right now? She was sure that most of these people would forget about her in the week once the dust settled. She would not be Cyril, the girl trapped in EOS, or Cyril the annoyingly strict administrator. She would just be a forgotten face in the background. She would only exist in the hearts of her parents, and hopefully Jax.
Jax sat in a smaller chair to Cyril’s left, Akyryss slightly blocking his view, but when he leaned forward to steal a quick look of her. He could not help but sigh at her small crunched nose and furrowed brows. “The least you could have done was hide behind your mask again…” He whispered to himself. He clasped an outstretched hand over Cyril’s clutched hand. “Nerves?” He answered with a small smile. “What do you mean?” Her face untightened and returned to its usual splendor countenance.
“You have that thinking face.” He reminded her, and her eyes went wide. “Really? Shit.” She groaned. It wasn’t a face she liked to show often. She was told that she often looked like she was looking down over others when she made that expression, but it was only her being lost in thought. She corrected her features and put back the smile she thought she had been displaying for all to see. Jax could only chuckle to himself. “Its too late, girl.” He shook his head helplessly.
The hour dragged on until a voice chirped into Cyril’s air. “Ms. Bailey. It’s time.” The voice chilled her heart. She swallowed her fears and tapped her mother’s hand, who was to her right.
The sudden tap caught her mother’s attention as her head whirled around, eager to see if there was a matter that she could quickly use to please her daughter. That desire was quickly burned away by the grieve expression on Cyril’s face. “Is…” She didn’t want to utter the rest of that question. Knowing full well what the answer and its implications would head too. It was a stupid notion that by stalling the answer, she would still have more time with Cyril. However, time did not stop in reality, even if they could control it in the virtual world.
But the answer she had been dreading came in the form of her sweetest daughter’s nod of confirmation. Regardless how she felt, regardless how many nights she prayed; her daughter had chosen her own death and of all the things this life had deprived her off – she would not deprive her of her choice to die with dignity. With a hand that shook with repressed grief, she gripped her husband’s hand. Edward was in the middle of a joke with an employee that was here to help keep the festival from getting too wild and the tap quickly halted the conversation.
“What’s wrong?” He quickly noted the pleading look she gave him. An expression he had seen too many times to feel he was a good husband, all of them always having been tied to their daughter. The question was unnecessary to ask, knowing full well what would have made Madin make that expression, but it was just a simple thoughtless reflex. “Cyril said it was time…” The words, forced from her lips, stabbed Edward in his heart and twisted it. For a moment, his eyes searched Madin’s – hoping the words were just something he imagined. The festival was still going and there was so much more he had planned for the night.
And when she did not change her answer, he knew he hadn’t dreamed it
“It’s too soon!” he screamed in his heart as his eyes flicked to his daughter, who sat in the seat of honor with a peaceful smile. Whether it be a mask or her real expression, he didn’t want to know. At least it was a smile. Edward nodded his head at Cyril and she smiled even bigger. Acceptance or grief, Edward wasn’t sure which compelled him to smile back. With effort, he stood from the chair. He cleared his throat and the person he had been talking too, a dark-skinned human, summoned a large gong.
With ease, the man hit the gong.
The sound reverberated throughout the grounds, the NPC bards stilling their hands, the minstrels fell silent, and each golem faced the large tree. The suddenness of it all was able to catch a majority of the attendees’ attention
“Hear ye’ and hear all.” Edward boomed, but everyone at the table could tell it was all scripted now. Her father had stepped away from the controls, though Cyril was sure he was still there. “Today marks the ascension of our heroine! Today, she will join the ranks of the Gods and Angels to forever been the Keeper of hearth and home, creation and death! She will ride with the Valkyries and fight with the honored death against the tides of those who should mean to harm this world!” Edward summoned a large silvery hammer, ornated with magical runes.
He held the hammer up proudly, towards the sky. “We send her off with glory and pride! Hail to the new Goddess!” He roared as horns blared from all around as the sudden appearance of different banners of the world’s kingdoms appeared. The thumping of shields and the stamping of staffs shook the hearts of the players so that, they too, joined in the ceremony. When the fire in all their hearts, Cyril stood up and waited as everyone slowly fell silent to hear what she had to say. “Thank you all for making this world so amazing. These years have been amazing. I don’t have a fancy speech like my father here, but know that I truly did enjoy the time I had with all of you.”
A few silently seconds ticked by and war cries rose as swords, staves, halberds, and all other manner of weapons rose in the air as the NPCs lead the charge in the cheers. “Onward to glory!” Cries rang out as Akyryss and Glynii cleared away the tables and chairs. Once the stone platform was cleared, only Cyril stood there along with Jax, both hand in hand. “Are you ready?” She asked Jax as her voice was nearly drowned out by the cheering. “No.” He said with a weary smile that made her laugh so sweetly, yet the moment was not meant to last as another voice spoke into her ear. “Ms. Bailey, everything is ready… If you-” Cyril cut her off. “Do it.” Her response was curt and pained. Jax saw what she said, sad that she would be so eager to leave this world…
“Or was it that she had to go, or she’d never leave…?” He thought to himself. Regardless, he leaned into her and kissed her on the lips. Cyril returned the kiss with passion, Edward and Madin both pained at the sight that this boy would never marry their daughter even though he stuck around even through the hardships that their relationship had faced. “It’s in. Next is the last injection.” The doctor’s voice rang again in her ear, only audible to her alone. “It’s time.” She parted from Jax and stepped back as did he.
Just as quickly did their kiss end, the game world went black as she felt a chill overcome her.
Cyril’s body burst into a pillar of golden flames that towered into the sky before taking the form of a monolithic Pheonix. The bird, made of fire, spread it wings outward as it took to the sky to fly ever higher before it disappeared out of sight.
[Found a little song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bp8i5E2jXPE&list=RDbp8i5E2jXPE&start_radio=1]
. . . . . . .
The world basked in the sunlight as the mid-autumn forest swayed in the soft morning breeze.
Sunlight reflected from the tree line as figures stood cautiously on the edge. A host of thirty knights stood in a single line as they toed the forest awaiting a signal. Ahead was a field of tall knee-high grass that stretched forward until it met the bank of a snaking river to the north-west. To the true north, large stone walls laid in ruins with desolate elven spires. They did not know the name of the long-forgotten city, but from the number of spires that rose from it, it must have been a sprawling hub in its days.
The knight at the line’s center kept his helm off, revealing long and curled dirty blonde hair. His deep blue eyes were the color of sapphires as they scanned the field and the distant structures. A howl rose in the distant forest, maybe from across the river or maybe behind them. He wasn’t sure as his handsome face scrunched in thought. “Proceed across the field. Keep the students in check.” He said softly as his hand rose with two fingers raised before they flicked forward to signal for all to move. Within a matter of seconds, the thirty knights all stepped out of the tree line in a hundred-foot line. Their dulled steel plate armor covered them all head to two, besides the blonde hair man who held no helm.
His armor differed from the rest. Red and ornated with gold dragons, he walked with his head held high and his eyes wider as nervously scanned the field for any monster that could be lying in wait.
The crackle of fallen twigs reached his ears before the voice did. “Randol, I think we found Fable’s End!” Randol turned to see the owner of the voice. “Maybe, but we won’t know until we’re inside. Besides that, please stay with the rest of the students, Desmond.” Randol scolded his brother with a frown. The area had yet to be secured as his brother stood just outside the tree line in his deep blue mage robes and a large parchment in his hand. “I know, I know, but I couldn’t contain myself.” Desmond’s eyes sparkled like a researcher who was looking upon the world’s greatest mysteries. “Mai, please keep my brother in better check.”
Randol sighed as a fox-kin girl stepped out of the thicket beside Desmond, her silky brown hair combed to her left side and left to rest upon her left breast. She wore the same blue mage robe as Desmond. Two large fox ears protruded from her head and twitched with annoyance. “You know he won’t listen to me when he gets this way.” She huffed her grievance out; her beautifully light face displayed her displeasure as well. While she tried very hard and well to give the signals, Desmond kept his pale face glued to the parchment in his hands. His eyes comparing the ruins before them to the drawing on the parchment that was soft to the touch. It was a magical piece of parchment that had been forged thousands of years ago in the age of Gods.
Desmond’s blue eyes gleamed with childish delight as his heart was set on knowing he found the ruins from the myths. “It’s always been debated whether Fable’s End existed for so long and here it was. The tomb of the Goddess. The one said to have created the lands and the seas as well as the people.” His words leaped from his mouth, barely understandable to the two watching him. “I should just rip that paper up…” Mai complained as Randol rolled his eyes. “Just hold his arm until we clear the field. Randol ordered Mai and she nodded as she wrapped her arm in his. Desmond was none the wiser as his mind was solely focused on the drawing on the parchment. “Yeah… It’s definitely it.”
A few minutes later, he tried to step forward – only to be tugged back by Mai who grinned at him devilishly.
He was about to complain when more people arrived behind the couple dressed in the same robes as them. Backing them was another fifty knights, each keeping a five-foot distance from the other as they kept their heads on swivels for the dangers of the Great Wildlands. They were surprised to find they hadn’t meant with that much resistance then the stories say. There was no great dragon, no great bears, or other otherworldly creatures defending the path they had followed. Though Desmond had said the parchment had lined a safe path to the ruins, they didn’t trust in that old piece of paper that could have been outdated by centuries.
Yet there it was.
Soon, a knight approached them from the field side and told them to quickly cross the field. Just as quickly, a gaggle of maidens quickly hampered off through the path the knight made through the field. Words of seeing their betrothed or dream knight leaped from their tongues as they passed Mai and Desmond. “There they go again.” Mai’s tongue clicked before she pulled Desmond along by the arm as the rest of the host followed after the girls.