It all started when the train rolled away. Or rather, that’s when it ended — that’s when she realized. Jolie knew that she could no longer settle for half-hearted love, it just wasn’t possible. What she needed was full on hot romance, being hit by cupid’s arrow right in the middle of her ample bosom. A golden arrow embellished with diamonds, not this kind of breakable material.
Wood. That’s what this “love story” had been, if a cupid’s arrow was involved. Burnable, cuttable, and it could turn into earth, which is what it now had — soil that came to be the fertile ground for the love that would come next, the one that received Eros’ blessing.
She logged into the web browser game, Legend of Stars, where she lived her other life, as the character “Dreamy”, a level 97 ranger. In the leader board, she ranked number 9, without using real money to top up, unlike many other players on the top 10.
Legend of Stars was a fairly unknown game, based on the legend of two lovers, separated by great distance. Namely, the Chinese story about the stars, Vega and Altair, in which Vega was a goddess, and Altair a farmer. The two of them fell in love, but only on the seventh night of the seventh lunar month, each year, could they meet. The day is also known as the Chinese valentine’s day.
While the story was sad, the game was fun and lively.
There were four different classes to choose from; swordsman, ranger, warrior and mage. The playable characters weren’t related to Vega and Altair, per se, but their design was inspired by the night sky and celestial myths.
The female ranger wore a blue, two-piece outfit; a skirt and a crop top with sweetheart neckline and sleeves that were broken off in the middle. Her hair was a lighter — almost illuminating and shifting in colour, at times appearing greenish, like the ocean — shade of blue, and her shoes were a pair of knee high, black heels. Jolie had chosen the ranger, mainly because of the appealing appearance.
The mage had a more conservative look, consisting of a long, cloud white and sky blue dress, and her honey blonde hair up in a ponytail; the female version of the swordsman wore a short, red dress with purple details, combined with fierce eyes and short, flame like hair with hints of purple; the warrior female was clad in a down to earth, just-above-the-knees length skirt, and a top that ended just above the line where the skirt began, revealing but a little bit of skin. On her shoulders she wore clay red armour, and her head was dark brown and hidden under a warrior’s helmet.
The male versions of the characters wore similar outfits, adjusted to their sex.
The ranger wore long, wide-legged pants that flowed like waves as he moved, and likewise did the long sleeved shirt. His hair was short, wavy and unkempt. As the appearance was fairly feminine, not many guys chose this class. The mage wore a long and open mantle, the inside of which was white, and outside was jade blue. The plain clothing underneath it were dark grey, like a thunderstorm. The swordsman had high boots and slim, dark blue pants. His torso was covered in a jade green plain top and a dark red mantle on top of that. It was the only class whose colours didn’t entirely match the female variant. His hair was golden. Finally, the warrior, was covered in heavy armour and a big shield. Like the female version, he was clad in brown colours, albeit of slightly darker nuances, and his clothing in general was thicker, and his paints longer, but otherwise, they were almost the same; armour being their main feature.
Dreamy had a warrior husband, Spear. He was a 35 year old man who didn’t talk much, but sent her flowers every day, allowing her to be number 3 in the Flower Rank, the number one of which was Dreamy’s friend, Yuna, a fellow ranger in her 30s, married to the middle aged warrior, Bone. Of course, in the game they all looked the same age, and there was no discrimination.
The four of them were members of the same guild, the Snoozing Stars.
Aside from the Snoozing Stars, there were two other guilds to choose from, which players had to do early in the game: the Cosmic Lights and the Big Bang Fighters. The Big Bang Fighters was the strongest guild, due to its name appealing to a greater number of players. It had reached level 9 of 10. The Cosmic Lights were the least popular, and had only reached level 4. As for the Snoozing Stars, they had snoozed their way up to level 7.
Dreamy, Yuna, Spear and Bone often challenged dungeons together, and when they didn’t do that, they went to the different timed events that the game hosted each day, such as Morpheus’ Lair, Celestial Tree, Aphrodite’s Tea Blessing, and more. Today was no different.
During Heavenly Boss, the first event of the day, Dreamy told Yuna about her previous couple of days.
“Where have you been, Dreamy?” asked Yuna first, “Busy with school?”
While leaving her character on auto-battle as it fought the boss, Cerberus, Dreamy typed in the guild chat:
“I wish. But no, and school hasn’t even started yet.” sighing emoji, “You know the guy who quit a while ago, after he reached number 2 in the ranking?”
“You mean Dante?”
Dreamy continued, “I met him.” Another sighing emoji.
“You met him? In real life?”
The boss died, so before answering, Dreamy navigated to the next one, Hydra.
“Yes. In real life. And… it wasn’t what I expected, at all…”
“So, how was it, then?” Yuna asked.
Then, other guild members joined in.
“Well, people often aren’t what they seem online.” said Ace, the number one player, a level 114 swordsman.
“True.” said Yuna.
Dreamy typed, “It was awful. The most awkward thing I’ve been through. When we talked online, he was very talkative, and always initiated conversations, but in real life…”
“Sorry it turned out like that,” said Bone, “He was probably stunned by your beauty.”
Jolie sighed in reality.
The guild had a closed chatroom outside of the game, in which some of the members had sent photos of themselves. Jolie was one of them, and she had only gotten positive feedback, but no matter how cute her appearance was said to be, it still hadn’t helped her find love.
“What happened?” said Yuna.
The second boss died, and everyone moved on to the next, Arachne.
“So, I went to meet him at the train station, and the moment I saw him, I knew. The reversed version of recognizing your soulmate. I knew that he wasn’t the one.”
“Sorry to hear that.” said Yuna, “You’re a pretty girl, you’ll find someone new in no time.”
So she hoped.
“Well, I took him to my new apartment, but I ended up stealing my roomie’s room to sleep in. Feel bad about doing that right after moving in.”
“What a good roommate you have.” said Yuna.
“Yeah, otherwise I would’ve ended up having to sleep in the same room…”
“Meh, the guy is lucky for getting to be in the same apartment as you.” said Bone.
Jolie felt flattered.
“True.” said Ace.
Kink, a level 65 swordsman, showed up on the battle field.
“So, I was reading the chat,” he said, “but I couldn’t say anything, because my hands were preoccupied.”
“Umm…” said Stone.
“With eating!” added Kink, “I reached the character limit.”
“Good timing.” said Ace.
Dreamy sent a laughing emoji.
“Anyway,” said Kink, “didn’t you see photos of him before? or video chat?”
“A couple of photos,” said Dreamy, “but to be honest, I was bored.”
She continued, “I feel like the worst person, though. He came from another country, and I sent him home after a day.”
“Damn.” said Kink, “That’s brutal.”
“But what should she have done?” said Yuna, “I think I would do the same thing. Better than pretending.”
“Agreed.” said Ace, “better getting hit sooner than later.”
“I would’ve tried to convince you,” said Bone, “Somehow make you change your mind about me.”
Jolie nodded to herself, then typed, “If he had had the guts to do that, maybe things had ended differently.”
“Wow, Dreamy, I think I just felt that in my heart.” said Bone.
Yuna laughed, “What are you doing, lover? Flirting with other girls in front of me?”
“Oops.” said Bone.
“It’s OK.” said Yuna, “As long as I’m the one you come home to every night.”
“Lover…” said Bone, “I think I just felt that in my heart as well.”
“Kink would’ve felt it in his other heart.” said Ace.
“Hey!” said Kink, “Why? I wasn’t even saying anything.”
“Just because.” said Ace.
As they moved on to the next boss, Jolie smiled about her friendships in the game. Everything was normal again. She didn’t have a stranger in her home, and all of her friends were present. Soon, however, everything would change.
In the Celestial Tree event, Dreamy fought for the chance to climb up to higher branches, or rather, floors. Out of seven, she could only climb up to branch three without assistance, but it wasn’t because she was too weak — it was because of the lack of players.
The objective of Celestial Tree, was to kill other players, and after a certain amount of kills, one could climb to the next level. However, less than ten players typically participated in the event, a few of which stayed on the first floor to collect EXP.
Yuna and Bone were the strongest active participants, and managed to make it to the fourth branch, without problems — mainly by taking turns killing Dreamy. Sometimes, Kink and Spear were there as well, and in those times, Spear would protect Dreamy from the murderous couple.
But Dreamy didn’t need other players. She was crafty, and had thought of the idea of using alternate characters to help her climb. It was time consuming, as she had to make them climb, as well, in order to kill them on the second and third branch, and often, other people ended up killing them, sending them down before Dreamy had gotten to climb up. However, Dreamy was determined to reach the seventh branch.
In the early days of the server, people had been more enthusiastic, and so, there was always someone on the seventh floor, and there were always other players to kill. Now, a few months in, most of the players had quit, and left were only a few enthusiasts.
“I cannot wait for the merger.” complained Dreamy, after killing Kink, as punishment for sending down her alternate character, Slavekun.
“Why?” said Kink, “I’m already so weak. After the merger, my rank will be below 100.”
The merger was a putting together of several servers. The one Dreamy was in was server 77, and the merge would encompass servers 71-80. A tenfold of the current level of activity.
Yuna send a giggling emoji, “Don’t worry, Kink. Be positive, you might meet a nice lady.”
“Pfft, I don’t need any ladies. All I need is…”
“Your hand?” said Bone, laughing.
“Oh, so you don’t need your hand?” said Bone.
Kink ignored Bone, “I was going to say, all I need is my laptop.”
Jolie could relate. Since she started this game, four months ago, she had been hooked. It had been her escape and solace, a safe place from the demands of real life.
“I look forward to it, too.” said Yuna, “but poor Ace, he won’t be number 1 anymore. He might quit out of grief.”
Dreamy sent a nod, “I hope not, but in that case, isn’t Bone in the same position? He won’t be number 2 anymore.”
Yuna sobbed, “True. I won’t have a strong lover anymore. So sad.”
Dreamy laughed, “but he’ll still be strong, though.”
“It’s all relative,” said Bone, “But I don’t mind. I just play for fun, anyway.”
The one thing Dreamy didn’t like about the upcoming merger, was the fact that her rank would drop significantly, as well. But she wouldn’t drop from rank 1 or 2, to a slightly lower, but still high, position — she would drop from a lower position, to an even lower.
The day of the merger, Dreamy suffered a severe shock when she logged in.
Not only had she fallen from number 9 in the level ranking, to number 24, but she also had lost her title in the flower rank. She was no longer a “No. 3 Missy”.
She had no idea how many of the players ahead of her were still active, but she would do her best to get back in the top 10.
The new top players were:
- RapidJudge (level 120, male swordsman, BBF)
- Zenflood (level 119, male swordsman, BBF)
- Rotervin (level 117, male swordsman, BBF)
- Altairs (level 115, male swordsman, SS)
- Ace (level 114, male swordsman, SS)
- Duskerbeat (level 113, male swordsman, (SS)
- Bone (level 113, male warrior, SS)
- Vegas (level 112, female ranger, SS)
- Lantos (level 111, male warrior, CL)
- Melody (level 110, female mage, CL)
Dreamy sulked over the fact that she no longer had a top 10 lover (Spear had fallen to rank 15), nor was she the only female in the top 10, as she wasn’t even there.
The top list was dominated by Big Bang Fighters, but the Snoozing Stars at least had a few representatives.
Altairs and Vegas were married, and their names were a clear reference to the star-crossed Vega and Altair. Another reason for Dreamy to sulk — of jealousy.
RapidJudge and Zenflood were famous from the Cross Server events, so Dreamy had already encountered — and gotten killed by — them. They were beasts that took out everything in their way, ruthlessly.
The hurdle of difficulty in the daily events would increase significantly, and Dreamy got a first taste of that during Morpheus’ Lair, a treasure collecting event, in which there were 4 bosses in total; one assigned to each guild, and one bigger boss, in the PK (player kill) area.
The Big Bang Fighters took out their own boss, and the Cosmic Light’s boss, and Dreamy knew that they would’ve done the same to the Snoozing Stars’ one, if they didn’t do it fast enough themselves.
In the world chat, there were disagreements:
Lantos: “Stay away from our boss”.
Lantos was the guild leader of the Cosmic Lights.
GodsWatch: “Your fault you didn’t kill it fast enough.”
Lantos: “It’s supposed to be a CL boss, it doesn’t matter how fast we kill it.”
GodsWatch: “Welp, if you have complaints, take it in the PK area.”
Lantos: “I don’t go after weaker players.”
GodsWatch: “Who said anything about weaker?”
GodsWatch: “Roter is the strongest player in BBF here, you should take it with him.”
Lantos: “And why should I?”
Dreamy followed the conversation intensely, while doing her best not to get killed, and commenting in the guild chat:
“Yikes,” she said, “so intense.”
“That Gods is ***** though,” said Bone, “I just checked the ranking, and he’s only a level 99.”
“*****?” said Dreamy.
“C o c k y.”
The system had censored the word.
“I see, so he’s close to me then.” said Dreamy, who was 10% away from reaching level 98.
Dreamy checked the ranking.
Indeed, he was only five spots ahead of her, at number 19.
“Oh,” said Dreamy after making a discovery, “I know why he’s so *****”
“Hm?” said Bone, “how come?”
“His lover is Rotervin.”
“Ok, yeah, that does make sense, then.” agreed Bone, “He knows that Lantos can’t touch him, because he has Rotervin to protect him.”
Dreamy sighed, “I wish I had that.”
“You will.” said Bone.
The boss died, and chests dropped all around it, birthing a fierce battlefield. Everyone wanted to grab as many chests as possible, but the strongest players had all of the power over their chances to do so.
Dreamy managed to grab a total of 1 treasure chest.
Zenflood and RapidJudge both appeared before the second round, and the world chat took note:
Lantos: “Hey, Rapid, you should keep tabs on your guild members.”
Lantos: “This tiny fry Gods is being a pain in the ***”
RapidJudge: “A pain in the what?”
Lantos: “a s s.”
Lantos: “Well, you’re the guild leader, you should control him.”
RapidJudge: “Funny you say that.”
Lantos: “What’s that supposed to mean?”
When the bosses spawned, the players dispersed towards their respective bosses.
Lantos: “What the **** Rapid? Taking our boss before even killing your own?”
Lantos: “Bad form.”
RapidJudge: “So, what are you gonna do? Report me?”
The chat turned silent for a few moments, then,
GodsWatch: “Welp, I guess he got scared away.”
In the guild chat, Dreamy was gossiping,
“It seems like all of the BBF players are *****.”
“Yup,” said Altairs, “I was in the same server as Duskerbeat, and he’s just the same.”
“Damn,” said Bone, “What about Zenflood?”
“Dunno,” said Altairs, “Never talked to him.”
“He never talks in cross server,” said Dreamy, “I’ve seen him slaughter everyone, but he does it quietly. Zenlike.”
“I’ve seen him talk once,” said Vegas, “but it was only an emoji.”
“Oh, yeah?” said Bone, “What emoji?”
“This one.” said Vegas, and sent an emoji with a sticking out tongue.
“That’s so random,” said Kink, who had just appeared, “but speaking of random… wow, this new server.”
“I know right,” said Dreamy, “it’s… active!”
And so was the case, later in the night, as well.
The bosses on Heavenly Boss died faster than ever, and it was the first time Dreamy had witnessed the level 115 and 120 bosses die. Only players who had reached the respective levels could enter the battlefield.
“RapidJudge is so strong,” said Yuna, “he killed the 120 boss by himself.”
“Yeah,” said Dreamy, “I can’t even kill the 95 boss by myself, unless I spend like two hours.”
“Same, same,” said Yuna, “good thing we have our strong husbands to help us.”
Dreamy nodded, “but Spear isn’t in the top 10 anymore T_T”
“Don’t worry,” she said, “he’ll get back there.”
“I hope so.”
In Lucifer’s Inferno, Dreamy did her best to climb the seven planes, without getting killed. She stayed away from the bosses, and only grabbed the treasure chests on each plane.
Plane four was the highest she could get to, with her current level, but in a few days, when she reached level 100, she would have the privilege to get slaughtered on plane five as well.
Whenever a boss kill announcement popped up on the screen, it contained “RapidJudge”, “Zenflood” or “Rotervin”. About 1% of the bosses were killed by other, lucky, players.
As she focused on killing minor monsters with auto battle, Dreamy watched the announcements.
Zenflood has just killed Batspider, and received abundant rewards.
Rotervin has just killed Chameleonbird, and received abundant rewards.
RapidJudge has just killed Antmonster, and received abundant rewards.
GodsWatch has just killed Thundergnome, and received abundant rewards.
Ace has just killed Gravesucker, and received abundant rewards.
Zenflood has just killed Bloodfang, and received abundant rewards.
RapidJudge has just killed Dancing Kappa, and received abundant rewards.
GodsWatch was one lucky player, she thought, but she had no idea how lucky that was, exactly, or what role it would come to play in her life…