Chapter 27 – Fragment of Something Greater

Editors: genericIntent, Scott, ShieldBasher
Author’s notes: This chapter ended up being a lot longer than I had thought it was. But it is only extra reading materials for all of you! Volume 5 planning is going slow, I suspect the rough planning of the next volume will take another 3 or 4 days, then I can work on planning chapter 28! I will keep you updated anyway. Now, for the conclusion of volume 4!
As another full chapter release. It is greatly appreciated if you can show your support to take a minute of your time to follow the link and vote for End Online at TopWebFiction.com! Votes are reset weekly so even if you have voted before, please do so again! ^.^
You can now view the original plan for chapter 26 & 27 on my Patreon page along with my explanations of the plan and thoughts. It is free for all to have a look! I will also post this in the header of the next chapter for all who missed it.
Editor’s notes:

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-Lost-

Chronix and goon number one glare at me from the other end of the duelling stage. They make hand signs toward me to express how ‘dead’ I am while the countdown for the duel commencement ticks away. In the ten seconds of the countdown, they take their time to prolong their intimidating tactics.

The countdown hits zero, and Fen is the first to take action by sending a dozen ice spears screaming through the air toward them. Chronix and goon number one split apart, dodging Fen’s attack and moving to our flanks. Goon number one mumbles something under his breath that I can’t hear, and Chronix nods his head in response.

‘Of course, that guy has some supersonic hearing skill.’

Both of the two enemies approach me at a frightening speed. Chronix takes out a gold coin from his pocket, which is actually a stack of gold coins, but I cannot read the number on the coin as it is too far away. He crushes it in his hand and his blade suddenly emits a faint golden aura.

On the other side, goon number one’s sword and shield glow with a soft white light together.

“Fen, that one is yours!” I say to the wolf girl and move to defend against Chronix.

“Un,” she affirms from behind me.

I move toward Chronix with blinding speed and use both of my weapons to slash horizontally across his body. Right as I am about to attack, his body sways with a strange rhythm and my attack misses him. At the same moment, his sword sweeps in a large parabola toward me. I attempt to dodge out of the way, but the sword is swinging too fast and seems to track my movements. I only feel a sting where the sword cuts through my back and see my health drop to nearly fifty percent after receiving a single attack.

Alarming me even more is the sound of shattering ice from Fen’s direction. I turn my head while retreating and see goon number one pressing back Fen. His large, glowing blade shatters every ice spear that it hits. At first, it appears to contain deadly force, but closer inspection reveals that the sword has taken on the properties of a shield.

Goon number one has become a moving, impenetrable shield. Even the ice walls that Fen puts up are easily shattered by his charge.

I place my faith in Fen’s capabilities to deal with him, and give Chronix my full attention. The guild leader of ‘Swords of Light’ is suddenly upon me. I am stricken by a sudden panic as his sword glows gold again, so I instinctively activate ‘Perceptual Sight’.

Time seems to slow by fifty percent, no, even more than that. The sword swinging toward me slows in the air and I use my maximum speed and heightened reflexes to hastily dart under the blade and behind Chronix, successfully dodging the sword.

To anyone else, I would have disappeared from where I was standing and reappeared behind Chronix. I regret using the skill as soon as I move. The same headache I suffered from last time I used this skill assaults me again. It isn’t necessarily unbearable, but it is still painful and gradually increases.

I stab Chronix’s back with my weapons, dealing large critical damage. As I retreat to avoid his retaliation, I forcefully disable ‘Perceptual Sight’. Time returns to its usual speed and my headache dulls somewhat.

Fen retreats from goon number one toward me. As she backs away, she creates some strange ice mist around him, then flicks a finger back and forth and forms small ice spears within the mist to attack from unexpected angles. Many of these attacks manage to pierce through his defense, dealing a decent amount of damage while also slowing him down.

Chronix charges toward me in a rage. With my weapons levelled up to the fourth class, my critical hit dealt as much damage to him as his did to me. Even I was shocked at just how high the damage was.

He crushes another unknown amount of gold, causing his weapon to glow gold once more. I have seen this move before, and there is no way I will allow it to hit me again. I move to the side as the sword travels toward me and reassess the situation.

‘Not good!’

The biggest problem now is that Fen is right next to me and also in danger of being hit by Chronix’s attack. I wrap an arm around the girl’s waist, ignoring her surprised yelp, and jump off to the side.

I hear two noises as I jump: the slice of a sword passing through the air where I just was, and the sound of a body falling to the ground. The whistling of the sword is clearly caused by Chronix attacking, but what about the other noise?

I look toward goon number one, and see him finally give way to the assault of the omnidirectional ice spears, falling to the ground and dying. The crowd roars and wolf-whistles in excitement. This attack of Fen’s is terrifying, and there is no way to escape it. I am glad that she is on my side.

“Damn it! What is with that girl!?” Chronix shouts while glaring at Fen.

“Fen, stay out of this. He’s mine.” I don’t know whether she listens to me or not because I immediately dash toward him. “Minor Dire Flame!”

A fireball larger than what I used to be able to produce is formed in my hand due to my increased ‘Belief’. For every ten points of ‘Belief’, I gain one level for each religious skill.

I see a hint of doubt flash across Chronix’s face as he focuses his attention on the fireball. I throw the dire flame toward his chest from near point blank range. Chronix seems to anticipate it though, leaning to the side and dodging past it with ease. His sword swings toward me from a strange angle and I find myself unable to avoid it.

‘This isn’t an in game skill! This is the real art of the sword!’ I think, shocked.

Raising my own weapons, I attempt to block or parry the sword. The difference between our levels and strength stats is made obvious as our weapons collide. I only feel a mountainous pressure come over me and my arms completely give way before Chronix’s attack. Fortunately, I manage to borrow on that repulsive force and lean back far enough that the attack only grazes me and does minimal damage.

Clicking my tongue, I activate backstab as he steps forward and twists his blade for a return slash. The attack passes through me but my real body is behind him. He is no longer surprised by this skill and gracefully moves forward without even turning his head. My attack only grazes him, as his did me.

Looking at our health bars, we are both below the fifty percent mark, but I still feel like I am at a disadvantage. Trying to finish him off quickly, I use ‘Pincer’, and attack him from different sides simultaneously.

This sacred art seemed to upgrade recently, allowing me to attack from three directions instead of the usual two. I don’t know what caused it, but I am not one to complain about getting stronger.

Chronix sees two images of me attacking, but not the third, and coincidentally real attack. His sword glows in a pale yellow, and his body suddenly spins and turns into a whirlwind. All I see is a ring of yellow around him as his blade passes in a circle. The attack hits all three of me, including my real body.

The attack seems to lack in power as a result of affecting a full 360 degree range and doesn’t kill me, but I still inwardly curse at the fatigue weighing down on my body. With only twenty percent health left, I am currently far from being able to use my maximum speed and slow to react.

Before Chronix has the opportunity to press me further. I withdraw a few steps and pull out two ‘Red Health Potions’ from my bag. These potions are created from using two ‘Red Medicinal Herbs’ in the same method as when I would use two ‘Green Medicinal Herbs’. The resulting potion healed much more health than even what most stores would sell, but the taste was still as revolting as ever. The potions also look like they would burn my insides as soon as I swallow it.

Drinking both of the potions and grimacing at the thick texture and flavor of sand and water going down my throat, my health gradually starts to recover. Chronix see this and hurries over to finish me off while spouting a few more curses. I do my best to maintain my distance from him until at least my fatigue can lessen, but he is incredibly persistent.

Just as he is about to attack, I form a ‘Minor Dire Flame’ in my hand and pull my hand back to launch it. As I rear back to throw the fireball at him, Chronix realizes he is too close and chooses to attack my arm rather than dodge.

His blade passes straight through my arm, and the image of me smirks as it vanishes.

I had activated ‘Backstab’, but instead of attacking with my blades I launch the small fireball. I knew he was too close for me to attack with the fire properly, and was hoping that he would attack me and not attempt to dodge. It was all for this moment.

The ‘Minor Dire Flame’ leaves my hand and hits Chronix square in the back. The fireball explodes and the fire adheres to his body and refuses to come off.

“Curse you! This wretched attack again! Do you have no shame?!” He screams at me and even the crowd seems to quieten down a full tone as they become intrigued by his loud voice.

Chronix knows he has lost to the same skill again, and appears utterly infuriated by it. He makes a few futile attempts to put out the flames, but still does not know that pouring a ‘Burn Remedy’ over the flames will quell them and is forced to watch as his remaining health whittles away while I constantly maintain my distance from him.

Eventually he falls and just like that the match is over. The crowd roars in excitement from the show as Fen and I walk off the stage and return to the competitor’s waiting area underground.

Over the next few days, the interval between each of my matches shortens as the number of competitors dwindles. Some of the matches are easy, but some are much harder due to the opponents having skills that significantly hamper me. I die in one of the rounds, but fortunately Fen quickly finishes it by herself.

Before I realize it, I am standing on a single arena, three times the size of normal, to participate in the finals. On the other side of the arena is once again a familiar face.

Long brown hair drifts in the wind, and tight leather armor accentuates her well developed figure. It is the same woman who defeated me on my second bout in the arena.

“What a pleasant surprise to see you here again!” AmberMoon joyfully calls out but pouts upon looking at Fen. “Here I was hoping that if I found you again, I would make you mine, but it appears you already have a lady.”

Fen’s eyes flare up after hearing her, but she doesn’t say anything.

“Sister Moon, please don’t invite any more men. How many have you taken and thrown away after finding a new one?” The lady serving as AmberMoon’s tournament partner frowns at her. “At least be faithful to your current one.”

“But he is so boring! He does nothing but flatter me and give me gifts every day. I want someone strong who can look after me!”

Just like that, the two apparent sisters enter their own world and don’t even seem to realize that the match is starting. I don’t move from my spot, unsure about attacking two people arguing with each other.

Fen is different though, immediately creating two dozen deadly ice spears in the air. With the flick of a finger, every single ice spear creates ripples in the air as it homes in on AmberMoon.

Both of the sisters notice the attack and immediately move to evade while abruptly ending their argument. The sister I don’t know has no trouble evading the attack but AmberMoon is incapable of getting out of the way as the attack was originally aimed at her. AmberMoon uses a strange set of footwork and her whole body radiates a faint white glow, almost like a holy radiance. Her body shifts from side to side, leaving faint afterimages as she avoids each and every one of the ice spears.

I feel a chill at viewing her skill and realize that it is no ordinary sacred art that allows her to move like that.

With such a large stage and my improved control, I flash from where I am and exhibit movement leaps and bounds above what I showed AmberMoon last time in the arena. The person in question doesn’t show any surprise on her face, but instead one of utter happiness.

“As I thought, you are definitely the one for me!” She calls out while using complicated footwork to avoid my initial strike.

How she managed to calculate the direction I would attack from is beyond me, but I can only imagine it to be some sort of skill heightening her senses like Chronix’s amplified hearing.

Fen and I have already moved beyond having to discuss who will attack whom now and she naturally tangles up the partner of whoever I am fighting. It still doesn’t stop her sending multiple ice spears at AmberMoon when she speaks her desire for me. The slip up in Fen’s concentration causes the other sister to break through a wall of ice and land a solid attack on her.

“Fen!” I call out worried. This is the first time someone has landed such an attack on her.

Fen stumbles back a few steps but immediately stamps her foot on the ground and causes innumerable ice spears to explode from the ground like a blooming flower. The attack only damages the sister slightly, but I am relieved that it causes her to retreat.

“That’s quite the partner you have there. Make sure you hold onto her, she’s strong!” AmberMoon exclaims in admiration of Fen, who despite being slightly distracted still has lightning reflexes and consistent judgement.

The busty girl starts swinging her kris at me and I immediately move out of the sword’s line of sight from fear of what happened last time. As expected, clear white blades of light fly from the sword at an astonishing speed and in a direct line from where it was swung. I barely manage to avoid each one which almost seems to anticipate where I will be rather than where I just was.

Starting to feel oppressed, I decide to take the initiative and attack. I use ‘Backstab’ and appear behind her. Rather than attacking her directly, I bring my knees together and crouch down, poised to attack at any moment. AmberMoon immediately spins around with her sword in front. Fortunately, it passes directly over me as I am already low to the ground. Surprise blossoms on her face as I spear my body up and slash both of my swords with a speed she has no hope of avoiding.

I deal a large amount of damage to her in the attack but far from enough to put her at a disadvantage. With a grunt of effort, I jump three meters into the air and somersault over her, hoping to attack again from a blind spot before she can recover. I am not fast enough, however, as she corrects her posture and brings her shield around to block my attack and push me back at the same time. I am once again at a loss as to how she can locate me when all she should be able to see is my afterimage.

“You must be curious,” She says with a sly grin, “just how can I see you. I have a skill of the ‘unique’ rarity that allows me to detect disturbance in the air. It is supposed to help me detect arrows and surprise attacks, but it is extremely effective against you.”

I curse my luck. It isn’t that the skill is overpowered, it is simply the perfect counter for my ‘White Warrior’ class skill.

“You should probably be more concerned about your partner though,” AmberMoon says while giggling.

I glance at Fen’s companion status in my vision and see her health is alarmingly low. My heart rate doubles and I immediately turn around to look at her. AmberMoon’s sister is quite damaged and low on health, but still managing to avoid Fen’s ice assault and attack with a sacred art that turns her sword into a black whip made of smoke-like tendrils. The attack cuts through any ice wall and wraps around to cut Fen across her shoulder.

“Fen! Retreat, now!” I shout out to my companion and dash over toward where she is.

Fen glances at me and I see the stubbornness on her face. I don’t have time to fight against her will so I attempt to pick her up and drop her off the edge of the ring. Before I get the chance to, that whip-like object obstructs my path and even manages to strike one of my legs.

“Y-you have the same skill!” I call out to the sister, dumbstruck.

“But of course! We did acquire it together!” She happily chimes out back toward me.

The situation turns grim and I fear losing Fen if I am not careful.

“Fen, back away!” I call out and charge toward the sister.

The wolf girl tightens her expression but still backs away from the enemy. At the same time, AmberMoon appears next to her sister and they confront me together.

I don’t even try to use my dire flame. I know from my previous exchanges with these two women that they would easily dodge my spell, so that is a waste of time that I cannot afford.

Doubt swirls in my heart, but I know I cannot afford to lose right now. If I do, Fen is sure to follow me to the grave and I will lose her as a companion forever. Weighing the risks and rewards, I steel my resolve.

I activate ‘Perceptual Sight’ and everything around me slows to a fraction of what it was before. At the same time, my head starts throbbing with the familiar migraine I get from activating this skill. I tried using it in an earlier round with my hood up and my speed diminished, but it still gave me the exact same headache.

‘This isn’t right, this sacred art is even more powerful than before! But I haven’t trained it since then!’ I ponder at an accelerated speed. Each thought stabs like a shout in my skull as a result.

The movements of the sisters seem to slow in front of me. Each of AmberMoon’s footsteps, which seemed so profound earlier, now look like she’s carefully placing her foot down. The black, tendril-like smoke whip also gently glides through the air toward me.

My speed doesn’t increase in this state, but my reaction speed is exponentially higher and I can utilize my speed to impossible limits. I easily duck under the whip, then make several quick steps to avoid AmberMoon’s assault. Even the sword energies released from her blade are simple to evade.

The noise of the crowd is like a slow drone in my ears, but I cannot let that distract me. It takes my full concentration to suppress the growing pain in my head as I slash my blades at the sisters multiple times.

All everybody else sees is me become a blur, reacting to every attack like I already knew it was coming. I pass through the sisters in the space of seconds, leaving behind a pattern of sword slashes on each one like fractured glass.

Both AmberMoon and her sister have looks of utter astonishment as their health almost instantly hits zero, and they fall to the ground together in a heap.

I cancel the sacred art and drop to one knee, my hands on my head as if it will abate my headache. My ears start ringing and even the noise of the spectators shouting out their excitement is blocked. I vaguely sense someone holding me from behind, but even my sense of touch is overwhelmed by this pain.

Gradually, the headache does dull down, but unlike the last few times, it doesn’t completely disappear.

‘Urgh, is it because I used the sacred art for a longer period of time?’

“-ampion, please rise.” A deep voice resounds in my ears as the ringing fades away.

I look up and see a man as large as a bear standing above me. He has rugged blonde hair that extends past his shoulders and a face of determination forged from countless battles. He wears a large golden chestplate with countless silver inlays over his violet robes.

I hurriedly stand up in front of him and still feel oppressed by his dominating presence. He is easily two and a half meters tall and I need to tilt my head up just to look him in the eye. I also notice that Fen is standing right behind me, staring at this man with wariness. I am confused about the look she is giving him, but this bear-like man starts talking and distracts me from my thoughts.

“Champion, I am Emperor Renault Gaiden. You have faced many challenges in this tournament, yet have prevailed over them all.”

“Your eminence.” I bow to the emperor, caught up in his atmosphere.

“I am here to grant you your rewards; receive them with pride. I hope that you will return to participate in the next tournament!”

The emperor hands me a money pouch and a strange stone tablet before turning around and walking off the stage. Only now do I realize that the entire crowd has gone silent, staring at me with curiosity and wariness. I can only imagine what someone ignoring the approaching emperor must look like.

I open the money pouch and inspect the contents, there are indeed 100 platinum coins in there. Each is equivalent to a hundred gold, making the value of these coins 10,000 gold. Putting the money pouch on my belt next to my other one, I inspect the strange stone tablet.

Mysterious Stone Tablet

???

The tablet has all kinds of pictorial symbols carved into one side of it like an ancient language, but whatever language it is, is completely unknown to me. Not even after inspecting the tablet does any knowledge surface.

I place it in my inventory and walk off the stage with Fen. As we leave, the crowd comes back to life and their shouts fill the arena behind us.

“Fen, we need to go find Grael. You don’t know where he is, do you?”

“No… I do not.”

I get excited, wondering what rewards Grael will give me if I pass this tablet onto him.

We leave the colosseum and start heading toward the ‘Honey Tree Inn’, where our party has been gathering since coming to Swordbreak. After barely even crossing a quarter of the distance to the inn, however, two hands viciously snake out of a small alley and pull us both in.

“G-Grael!” I stammer in surprise at the man in front of me.

“Did you get it?” He asks, looming over me.

“I-I did.”

I hurriedly withdraw the stone tablet from my inventory and present it to him. Grael snatches it out of my hands like lightning and concentrates his attention onto the pictorial carvings.

‘Can he decipher this tablet?’ I wonder to myself, growing more and more curious about the tablet and the strange symbols carved into it.

Graels expression suddenly lights up, a mixture of surprise and pleasure.

“Hahaha!” He booms out in laughter, “Yes! This is it! What good fortune I have.”

“Grael, about the tablet. I got it for you… Do I get something as well?”

The expression of the dragon in human form suddenly hardens and turns ice cold as he turns his attention toward me.

“Why would a worm deserve a reward?! Hmph, you already received a new weapon and also have been granted some of my power. That will be your reward.”

My heart sinks into a bitter helplessness. I did indeed receive those things from him, but I still expected something more.

“There are six more tablets just like this,” Grael suddenly says with a glare. “If you can bring them to me, I will give you a reward.”

“T-there are more?”

“Did you not hear what I just said? There are more, and you can get them for me.”

What he says is hardly a request and sounds more like a demand to me. But if I do come across another one of these tablets, perhaps I can get another divine reward. It is an opportunity that would make me lose sleep if I turn it down now and regret it later.

“I will do my best. But, where are they?”

“That is for you to find out! But I suspect they are spread out over the other continents.”

“O-other c-continents?!”

“Yes, so travel to these other continents and find them!” He starts to walk away before turning and saying one more thing. “If you ever get a ‘Compact Soul Gem’, bring it to my home. As for you, wolf girl, do not forget what I taught you. If you do as I instructed, you will continue to get stronger.”

I stand there confused as he disappears into the crowd of players. The moment he does so, a message appears in front of me.

Quest: The Seven Tablets of the Sage
Gather all seven Tablets of the Sage. Legends state that 
the person who acquires all seven tablets will be granted 
divine powers by the gods. 

Quest cannot be refused. Quest is failed if another gathers 
all seven tablets first.

Grade: Purple

Quest locked!
Quest cannot begin until game expansion 'The Seven Realms' 
is released.

I close the message and glance between Fen and where Grael vanished, trying to comprehend all the new information.

‘More tablets? A ‘Legendary’ quest that is locked? Other continents? Fen following Graels instructions? Bring him a ‘Compact Soul Gem’? It is too much! I don’t know where to begin.’

I stand in the alley with my head reeling when I receive a message from Mason, telling me to hurry over to the Honey Tree Inn. Gathering my thoughts together with my mind still full of questions, I rush over toward the inn with Fen.

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“Lost! It took you long enough!” Mason calls out as I enter the inn, causing everyone in the room to look at me.

How could my name possibly not be known throughout Swordbreak? As soon as I become the center of attention, all the players and even some of the NPC’s burst out in applause, wolf whistles, and congratulatory comments for becoming the champion of the latest tournament. Many people start buying me drinks as well.

I shrug my way through the crowd, dragging Fen by the hand, and arrive at the table with the rest of the party.

“Look at all the excitement. I suspect everyone here will be drinking for the next few days by the looks of it,” I say with a chortle as soon as I sit down.

“A lot has happened,” Mason bobs his head while smiling.

We start a joyful conversation, reminiscing over all the eventful moments that have happened over the past few weeks since we arrived at Swordbreak. There are many comments that we all burst out laughing over, while others that cause everyone to stare at me with accusing eyes. After an hour, however, the conversation suddenly turns serious.

“Lost,” Sir Laurence says with a frown. “That Chronix didn’t give you too many troubles lately, did he?”

“No, I haven’t actually seen him for a while. But apparently he has people watching me.”

“I doubt that. He probably doesn’t even have the time to worry about you right now anyway.”

“What do you mean? Do you know something about him?”

“I was disgusted that he was bringing real life threats into the game, so I put his uncle’s business in a difficult situation. I imagine his whole family is caught up in the trouble by now.”

“What!!? You attacked his family’s business!? Wait, what kind of person are you in real life, to do that?”

“No. Like I said, this is only a game. I have more dignity than to go that far. I merely put a bit of pressure on it. At least this way, he won’t bother you for quite a while.”

“I see… But still, that is quite harsh.”

“He brought it on himself.”

We change the subject and talk about other matters, but as the night comes to an end, I finally break the news that I have been dwelling on for some time.

“Everyone,” I say solemnly, “I won’t be playing End Online for the next three months.”

The atmosphere around the table instantly sobers up, and everyone looks at me with a mix of surprise and awkwardness.

“What do you mean three months? Why so long?” Verde seems to be the most surprised.

“I will be taking my GED. I never finished school, and I vowed that after my last item sold at auction that I would finally do it. It is something I simply must do, so I will devote myself to study for the next two months before finally taking the test.”

“That isn’t something any of us can really argue with,” Mason says with a sigh.

“Thank you for understanding.”

“But, we can’t simply let things end there. Let us share our real life contact details and when we all come back together, how about we form a guild?” Everyone smiles at Mason’s idea and we unanimously agree.

I notice that Verde’s eyes don’t reflect her smile, her condition is something that Sir Laurence and I are still unable to find a proper answer for.

Rather than heading up to the rooms in the inn, we all slowly log off one by one.

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-Jude-

“What do you mean you are being suppressed!? I thought you were on the rise in the business world!?”

I cannot help but express my astonishment at the man in front of me. The man is none other than Mr. Johnstone, the one who not too long ago was moving up to the middle district.

“I don’t understand either. One minute everything was going well, the next… nobody would give me the time of day. Even some of my closest acquaintances started turning a blind eye to my predicament. I sincerely hope that you won’t be the same.”

Mr. Johnstone looks slightly dishevelled, with his hair in a slight mess and dark rings under his eyes. The look is nothing but pitiful for someone who was as prestigious as he was merely a month ago.

“Of course not! We have known each other for such a long time. How could I possibly not offer a helping hand?”

“You have my undying gratitude, Jude.”

“Please, think nothing of it. I’m sure that when the time comes to return the favor, you will be there for me as well.”

“Just say the word when the time comes and it shall be done. As for now however, I am displeased to say that I must leave you. My family is gathering to discuss the problem so I must be present.”

“Have a safe trip, Liam. I look forward to hearing from you soon.”

As the man stands up and takes his leave, I stare at his back with utterly cold eyes.

‘You had prestige, status, and a promising future before you, yet you managed to anger someone you clearly shouldn’t have. You can suffer in your own pit of doom alone, fool! I can’t believe I thought of marrying off one of my precious nieces to your family!’

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-Hollis Silvester(Lost)-

The weather slowly begins to change as three months pass by in the blink of an eye and the world enters the middle of summer. Outside my house, I open the mailbox with excitement.

“It’s here!” I call out to myself, seeing the letter in the mail.

I hastily roll myself into the house, my excitement causing me to nearly lose control of the wheelchair and shamefully fall to the ground.

Inside my house is quite humid and muggy, even with several windows open. There is nothing that can be done in a poorly insulated house in the middle of summer with no air conditioning.

Despite the heat, the perspiration on my face is actually caused by the nervousness of looking at the letter. The envelope is addressed to me from the Board of Education. That’s right, these are the results from taking the GED three weeks ago.

I had studied relentlessly for two months after putting ‘End Online’ down. I had always been one of the brighter students back when I was at school and I retained most of my knowledge, so I covered most of the stuff I had already learned relatively quickly. As for all the new information, I surprised even myself by how fast I was learning it. It was like my brain was starving for knowledge and soaked up every last bit like a sponge.

Using a small knife from the kitchen drawer, I slice the side of the envelope open and slide out my test results. I feel my heart rate increase as I open the neatly folded piece of paper, a sliver of doubt appearing.

My eyes widen in surprise as soon as I see the results. Not only did I pass, but I did so with extremely high marks! My marks aren’t as high as what a genius would score, but they are all well above average.

Today, I moved one step closer to getting my sisters back.

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48 Comments

    1. I sure hope so. But, how much do you want to bet that when Lost finds a compact soul gem, he gives it to that archer brother so that the other guy can become an elf?

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  1. I just want to ask, why didn’t Lost use ‘Perceptual Sight’ during the ambush of Chronix? Shirley, he must have thought of that when Fen escaped.

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  2. I’ve been wondering about something for a while. What is the extent of is friends’ knowledge of his relationship with Grael? Did he tell them about his forceful “indoctrination” (and subsequent respawning at wherever Grael’s current location is) or just that he has some kind of relationship with Grael that involves the black dragon bullying him into quests? From what I’ve seen so far, with the exception of him respawning in front of Grael, the various oddities about his situation can be easily brushed off.

    For example, if they didn’t know the origin of his fire magic, they could just brush it off as need-to-know information and ignore it. Surely they have some secrets too that they wouldn’t want to spread around, so making a big deal about his magic would set a bad precedent.
    The random quest from Grael was also odd (referring to Grael ordering him to complete the tournament), but it wouldn’t take a large suspension of disbelief to believe that a high-level NPC (even if it was a monster originally) would give out a quest.

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  3. Well, I have just caught up after Binge Reading this for the past few days and it was worth it. Don’t get me wrong, when I first started reading this it had a rough start, a really rough start. But, I decided to stick with it and see how it improved, and it did greatly, dialogue especially. I eagerly await the next chapter.

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  4. I have been putting off reading chapters since the phone call lol, I couldn’t take the wait lol, now I get to binge the rest of the volume, Thx for the chaps

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  5. I just bought all the kindle books. When are you gonna release the fifth one on kindle? Because yeah, could just read it all on here, but I prefer having a copy I can tote around with me.

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    1. I am planning on finishing writing volume 5 in the next 2 or 3 days. I can’t give a published date as I am unaware of what the editors current schedule is like over Christmas.

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      1. Thats completely understandable. One can’t rush or the end product will tend to be one of middling quality. Better to just take your time, so we can enjoy it all that much more.

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