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BIT 04: MISTLETOE
Our newly joined party member, Jacklyn, dragged us to the edge of Axeington. A shimmering wall of almost invisible light stood between us the wilderness beyond. Jacklyn released my hand and spun on her heel, still grinning.
“Aren’t you going to add me to the party?”
I blinked, staring into those dark, alluring eyes. Sighing, I mentally slapped myself. No, I couldn’t even dare to begin thinking anything about another girl was alluring. Zimea was the one I’d fallen in love with. Zimea was the one I wanted to be with. She was my perfect girl. Serious in all the right ways, but soft on the inside.
“Zycuh Hunpo?” Jacklyn leaned forward and tilted her head, looking as cute as one of those anime girls.
“Y-yeah,” I said. “Let me do that.”
Somewhere behind me, there came a growl. Was it someone’s stomach? Or was it Zimea? She was the jealous type thrice over and wouldn’t stand for any flirting. Which, in a way, made me feel special.
I opened my menu with my eyes and tried to scroll through the menu, but Jacklyn’s appearance on the other side of the semi-transparent panel kept distracting me—Especially because I could see down her breastplate and right into her cleavage.
“Jersey Devil Breastplate,” Jacklyn said.
“W-what?” I asked, looking up to see her smiling.
“My armor. You were examining it, weren’t you? Do you like it?”
Pan cleared his throat and I, in turn, cleared mine.
I turned to the side, and used my finger to navigate the menu, going to the party section and ‘ADD MEMBER’. I typed in Jacklyn and Jacklyn Stryph popped up, so I hit that, and added her.
She spun around in a circle on one foot. “Yay, tee hee!” She poked the menu before her and the words ‘JACKLYN STRYPH ADDED TO PARTY’ appeared.
“And I thought I had a bubbly personality.” Joker giggled. “I pale in comparison to this chick.”
“Impale? Did you say impale?” Zimea asked.
“Alright.” I clapped my hands together. “Now that we’re all friends--“
Zimea coughed and I swear she said, “We’re not.” She probably did.
“Alrighty folks, be ready.” Jacklyn held up a matter-of-fact finger. “There are monsters in the Crimson Pines. Pixies, Fairies, and Dryads just to name a few.”
I glanced through the shimmering barrier and looked at the pine trees beyond. They were covered in snow. The ground was covered in snow. It didn’t look like there was a path, but with Jacklyn having a map, we were set.
I drew Supernova and held my shining violet sword before me. It made me frown. Staring into the blade was like staring into the cosmos. Everything seemed to exist within. Biting back a sigh, I said, “You heard the lady. Be on your guard. Let’s go.”
“Okay-dokay-artichokay.” Joker sang.
Pan gave an exasperated sigh, and Zimea said nothing—Which worried me and caused a clutch of anxiety to assault my chest. I shook it off and stepped through the barrier, leaving the player versus environment safe zone.
The temperature plummeted as soon as I was all the way through. If it wasn’t for my one hundred five percent Frost Resistance, I would have been freezing. Not all of us had as good of a resistance level from our gear, but Jacklyn must have had a major one. She was almost half-naked.
An icy wind blew by and Zimea shivered. “Damn, it’s frigid out here.”
“Do you want to go back and buy something warmer?” I asked.
Zimea had been rubbing her arms, but she dropped them to her sides when she noticed me looking. She blew the hair from her eyes and frowned.
“Nope, I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. You worry about you.”
I may have had Frost Resistance, but the way she said that came off as cold as Hell frozen over.
“Let’s go!” Jacklyn pranced forward, the red-bladed Bastard Sword on her back.
Without looking back at Zimea, I followed the joyful Blackguard. Pan walked alongside me, casting me a glance. I looked back at him.
“What?” I mouthed.
He rolled his eye and slowed his pace again. I wanted to know what was going with him and Zimea, but Jacklyn was getting farther ahead, so I had to walk faster.
“Jacklyn, wait!” I said.
She turned around, walking backward, her hands behind her back and smiling. Then, with a wink, she turned and walked beyond the tree line and disappeared.
“Is the forest a Dungeon?” Joker asked. “She kinda just vanished like a ghost. And I know ghosts. Orion and my house was haunted when we were growing up.”
“There’s no so such things as ghosts.” Zimea stormed past, the snow crunching beneath each footstep.
I watched her go and Pan followed her. “Except in Dark Days. In Dark Days, there are many ghosts.”
Both Pan and Zimea disappeared into the forest. What did he mean by that? We’d faced ghosts in the Starbound Lich’s tower, but it seemed he meant something deeper. With Pan, there was always a subtext to his every word.
“Come on, dumb dumb.” Joker skipped past, into the forest, vanishing like the others.
Frowning, I followed suit. It wasn’t a good idea to leave the tank in the back of the party but I couldn’t help feeling the world was slowly turning against me.
After crossing the tree line of the forest, I glanced back. I could no longer see anything beyond. Snow blew past, carried on a howling wind, but inside it was more like a light breeze.