Five days into the spring event, Jolie had collected 600 diamonds. Logging in all of her alts every day was turning into a painful chore, but the entertaining events of the server made up for that.
That is, the drama of the players.
It was on a Wednesday afternoon, when she had just finished the alt job, and switched back to her main character’s browser, where she saw the little mailbox icon, signaling to her that she had received a PM.
It wasn’t hard to guess from whom it was — either John or Dusker. No one else she knew played the game at this time of the day (1 PM). Only Europeans did, and there weren’t many of those in the server, in general. Not since the game had opened its EU servers, last October. Jolie had stayed because of friends, but most other EU players had migrated.
The PM was from Duskerbeat, but the content wasn’t what she expected.
“I know who RapidJudge is.” he said, taking her by surprise.
Jolie thought back on two days ago, when GodsWatch had mentioned that RapidJudge didn’t play his own account. Had Dusker been listening? And what else did he know?
What could he and GodsWatch know — in common — that she didn’t? And how did it happen?
“Who?” she asked.
She had expected it to take a while for him to answer, as she was afk when he sent the message, and she didn’t know how long ago that was — the game only showed the time of opening the message — but to her surprise, his response came rather quickly.
“I’ll tell you if you marry me.” he said, almost immediately.
Of course, he was going to blackmail her into marriage. What else?
She adjusted her seat, trying to find a comfortable position, but there was no getting around the sore shoulders she’d gotten from logging in alts and claiming free diamonds. It was worth it, though, for the title. But would marrying Dusker be worth it, for information? Not that information was his only perk…
After all, there was the fact that Dusker had grabbed the guild leader position, after Altairs quit. He was ranked number four in the server, but the in Dreamy’s guild, the Snoozing Stars, he was the top player, so maybe he wasn’t such a bad choice, after all?
Jolie felt torn. She wanted to know, but did she want it badly enough to sacrifice her freedom and become the captive wife of Duskercreep?
Maybe number four was enough? Spear had never reached that high, so it would still be an upgrade. But personality wise, Dusker was at minus.
However, there was no saying whether Rapid or Zen would ever agree to marry her, and Dusker might just be her only top player option.
She didn’t want to admit it, but what choice did she have?
No, she thought and shook her head, he never sends me flowers. Even after we’re married, he’ll still never send me flowers. Zen probably would, even if he didn’t, now.
But what about GodsWatch? Would he send her flowers? Would he want to marry her?
In that moment, Jolie knew that she’d much rather marry GodsWatch, number seven in the rank after his second top up, than number four, Dusker.
While she had a reputation of being a gold digger, it was only partially true.
She asked Dusker, “Why only if I marry you?”
She felt as though she already knew the answer, but it was worth trying to find a loophole.
Dusker said, “Because you won’t marry me otherwise.”
So he had to be sneaky and employ whatever shady methods he could? Indeed, he was a true Gaston. A filthy player who refused to play by the same set of rules as herself — her rules.
“You won’t send me flowers,” she said, “I said I would marry you, and you haven’t even sent me 9.”
“If I send you 9 flowers, will you marry me?”
As if. Punch you, rather.
“Then I have no choice.”
You do. Send me flowers.
“I go to work now,” he said, “when I get back, you can decide.”
But her decision had already been made. Besides, when it came to the identity behind Rapid’s account, she could ask GodsWatch — which she did, later that day, but not before a private conversation in chatcord, with John.
“He said that?” said John, laughing, after Jolie told him what Dusker had done, “He thinks this Dreamy is so easy to win over? Man, if she was, I would’ve done it already.”
While flattered, the truth was that she wasn’t that difficult to win over –they just weren’t the right people. GodsWatch on the other hand… In spite of everything, he had effortlessly lured her in.
Maybe it was the fact that he didn’t try, that created her preference for him? He was just being himself, and like a magnet, existing was all he needed to pull her in. Further and further into his world, in which she wanted to be the queen, much more than she wanted an OP lover.
She didn’t want to let herself think of fate, as that might cause the former love holic to tip over the edge, but her thoughts were undeniably leaning towards that, forbidden, direction.
John and Dusker were more like anti-magnets.
“But he is a OP player, no? Why won’t you marry him?”
Jolie remembered that John had advised against her choosing Dusker as a candidate, so this question came as a surprise.
“Well,” she said, “He’s a creep. He always asks about my real name. Imagine being married — he’d always want to have creepy talks with me. It’s bad enough as it is.”
“True,” said John, “Good choice, not doing it.”
While chatting, the two of them also completed daily dungeons in the background, on auto battle. Every now and then, Jolie checked how it was going, and made sure that her character entered the next dungeon. At this moment, Dreamy was in the level 90 dungeon, and had up to level 115 left. The dungeons started at level 40, and there was a new one for every five levels. Each one could be completed five times a day, but all dungeons 20 levels below the character’s level could be wiped out in one click.
“Yeah,” said Jolie, “besides, I can just ask God.”
Jolie sent a nodding emoji.
“Speaking of Gods,” said John, “There’s a thing I’ve been wondering.”
“What is it?” she asked.
He didn’t type immediately. Jolie could see beneath the chat when he was typing.
Meanwhile, she checked the LoS browser, to see if anything went on in the chat, but it was empty.
“I’ve been wondering,” John said, “do you by any chance… like him?”
Jolie widened her eyes and leaned back. Was she that obvious? Busted?
She looked around her room, as if searching for the cause of this madness that John had forced upon her, but the reason for his sudden interrogation was nowhere to be found. The only things present were her closet, window, and the little table that she had inherited from her roomie, Feng, on top of which was a cup of tea, and an empty bowl of ramen noodles, which she should probably take to the kitchen.
Indeed, out of this room should dirty dishes go, and that’s where they went, while John was left waiting.
As Jolie was home alone, she was permitted to pace, without being looked at strangely, and that’s why she walked back and forth a couple of times in the living room, thinking about what to say. Depending on what she told John, things could take completely different turns.
If she told him that yes, she liked GodsWatch, her feelings for him would be official, and no longer a hidden treasure kept inside her heart, intended for her, and her alone, to know about.
On the other hand, if she didn’t tell him the truth, would that be the same as denying her own feelings? Not to mention, it would be a lie.
Indeed, she wanted to be true to herself and her feelings, no matter the consequences, and with that in mind, she returned to her room.
Only a couple of minutes had passed, so John hadn’t asked about her whereabouts.
She sat down and gracefully moved her fingers to the keyboard,
“Why?” she asked, keeping her poise.
John said, “If not, that’s fine, but I’ve been getting these vibes lately…”
Vibes? She was sending off vibes of liking GodsWatch? If that was true, things were getting worse than she anticipated.
No need to beat around the bush, though, she thought, might as well confess right away,
“Yes,” she said, “I do like him.”
She exited the chat for a moment, and made her character enter the level 95 dungeon.
“For real?” said John.
She nodded again, “For real.”
John took a few moments, “but he is 15, you know?”
Oh, she knew. Hadn’t she agonized about that enough already? And did he really think that she had somehow managed to ignore or overlook that fact? Oh, poor naive John. But maybe he was better off, not knowing.
“I know.” she said.
There was a pause, during which Jolie checked the game, and saw that Rotervin was in the midst of topping up and receiving abundant rewards.
She checked the ranking to see how much his battle power had increased, and saw that it was five million already. RapidJudge had eight million, while Zenflood had six and a half. Dusker was at three million.
While watching Rotervin spin wheels and open lucky boxes, she got a notification from chatcord.
When she opened the app again, she saw John ask,
“Why you like him?”
Indeed, why? It wasn’t because they were alike, anymore, and not only because she had fun talking to him — it was because she had never met anyone like him, that she felt was the perfect match for her.
“I just do.” she said, “But I didn’t think it would get serious, honestly, it just did…”
“I understand,” said John.
By that, did he mean because he felt the same thing for her? He couldn’t possibly, though, as Jolie was of legal age, and their age gap was a mere couple of years. So, no, whatever he felt, it wasn’t the same and he didn’t understand.
Nevertheless, Jolie felt as though she had been thrown into a romance drama, and John was the second male lead, who, in spite of always being nice to her, and also sharing a certain connection with her, she could never regard as more than friend.
“To be honest,” he continued, and she knew what was coming, “I’m starting to like you, too.”
There is was, his confession. But for what purpose? What was he expecting her to do with it?
She couldn’t possibly say ‘I know’, but what other response could she possibly give him?
John spared her the agony of deciding on proper words,
“There was a part of me that was hoping, and thought, you might like me back, honestly.”
This, too, didn’t come as a surprise. It wasn’t the first time that Jolie had been told that she came off as liking someone, when she was just being friendly. A couple of years earlier, in real life, she had met someone just like John, with whom she could talk endlessly about anything, but never felt a spark with. Of course, he liked her, but all she could do was friendzone him.
“But you like Gods,” he continued, “I understand that from the way you speak with him.”
And the fact that I just told you.
The whole world probably knew. No, he did because he liked her, and payed extra attention, so it didn’t mean that everyone knew. Other people didn’t care enough, which was a slight relief, but also saddening. In a way, she wanted people to see; she wanted GodsWatch to see, and respond, like her back. In spite of everything.
Later that day, Jolie met GodsWatch, but by then she had completely forgotten about RapidJudge. Instead, she was battling with the fact that she had an exam the next day.
It hadn’t bothered earlier, as there had been more hours left, but the closer she got, the more it bothered her.
“I don’t understand,” she said, “I never worry about exams. Why am I now?”
‘Hmmm’ essentially meant that he didn’t know, and she didn’t expect him to, but a few words would’ve been nice.
Zenflood: “Have you tried chamomile tea?”
Of course, Zen had all the answers in the area of calming down.
“I’ve inhaled lavender.” she said, “the essential oil.”
Zenflood: “That’s good.”
Dreamy: “I was meaning to sleep early, but now I can’t.”
The clock was 1 AM.
GodsWatch: “I know the feeling. I can’t sleep at all unless I eat a lot of sleeping pills.”
“Why not?” said Dreamy.
“I don’t know,” he said, “When I try to sleep is when my mind gets flooded with everything.”
For a moment, Jolie dropped her own concerns. She wanted to make GodsWatch sleep without sleeping pills.
“Have you tried lavender?” she said, “It’s really good.”
Zenflood: “Says the woman who just said it didn’t work for her.”
Dreamy: “Well it does, sometimes. So it might work for him.”
GodsWatch: “I might try it.”
John: “Gods, all you need to do to sleep is get a bit of releases,”
John: “Is all man needs.”
Releases? Jolie had a feeling that she knew what that meant.
Dreamy: “Not necessarily.”
John: “How would you know? You don’t have the male body parts.”
GodsWatch: “So my Dreamy isn’t a bearded old man? D:”
Jolie laughed, “Sadly, no. Well, it’s not so sad, tbh. I don’t like beard.”
She continued, “Besides, I have a feeling that God doesn’t need to do that more. He’s a teen guy.”
“True,” said John.
GodsWatch: “Not my fault it’s hard all the time.” *doubting emoji*
Indeed, it wasn’t his fault, and the fact didn’t bother Jolie.
Jolie forgot all about Dusker, until she was reminded by a PM from him:
“So, do you want to know who is RapidJudge?”
Jolie wanted to ignore him, but the fact that she so obviously participated in the world chat, made it impossible to do so, without making it known.
“I don’t know.” she said, but in the next moment, she chose GodsWatch as a recipient for another PM,
“God,” she typed, “you said before that Rapid doesn’t play his own account.”
“Yeah, what about it?”
She asked, “who is it, then?”
“You didn’t know?”
She saw a red dot blink next to Duskerbeat’s name, signaling a new message, but she let it be, for now.
“How would I know?” she asked.
“I thought people knew, Rapid gave me his account before the merge.”
GodsWatch was RapidJudge? The top player? All this time?
“Well, not gave, since it’s not mine, but I play for him.”
That was, indeed, not the same thing. Owning a character and playing it for someone else were two very different things, considering the fact that RapidJudge could take it back at any time he pleased, and GodsWatch would lose the account.
She clicked on Duskerbeat’s name, and typed,
“I already know it’s GodsWatch.”
Not long after, Duskerbeat said, “Yes, GodsWatch too, but there is someone else.”
Two people on the same account? Both not the original player?
She typed to GodsWatch, “Dusker said there’s someone else controlling it, too. Do you know who?”
“He said that? Someone else?”
“Yeah,” said Jolie, “he said he’ll tell me if I marry him…”
GodsWatch sent a laughing emoji, “Welp, no need to. Rapid gave the account to me and Dusker.”
Why on earth would he do that?
“Why?” she asked, “And how did it even happen?”
“hmm… well, we met in the cross server. idk how Dusker got involved.”
It didn’t really matter.
“But if you control Rapid, why can’t I just marry him?”
“You want it so badly?” he asked.
Was he hurt? Did he want to marry her, with his own account? No, probably not. He was just curious. Small talk — not that GodsWatch had ever been a small talker.
Jolie said, “Well, he is the top player.”
“ik,” said GodsWatch, “it’s just, I’d have to ask him, and talking to him is kinda a pain.”
So it wasn’t jealousy? Was it that laziness, the same one that made him not want to get his socks from across the room, or go to his desk instead of staying on the bed?
“Please?” said Jolie, with puppy eyes.
The red dot blinked again next to Dusker’s name.
She clicked it.
“So, will you marry me?”
He still wasn’t giving up.
“I know who the other person is,” she said, “GodsWatch told me.”
Dusker didn’t reply, but it was an answer enough, when GodsWatch said, “Wait a sec, Dusker wants something.”
And what could that be? While Jolie never found out the details of what they talked about, she rejoiced in having learned that RapidJudge was actually controlled by a, a player who insisted on marrying her, and b, GodsWatch, who she wanted to marry.
Having learned this life changing truth about the top player, Jolie decided that it was time to go to bed.
She typed in the world chat, “I will try to sleep now.”
GodsWatch: “Sleep well”
GodsWatch: “And you better tell us how the exam went.”
Dreamy: “I will.”
Even if the ‘sleep well’ from GodsWatch didn’t work as a magic spell to put her to sleep, it definitely increased the quality of Jolie’s life, in spite of the fact that she now found herself with the strangest of crossroads ahead of her: marrying Dusker, GodsWatch, or both! What would she do?
Deep down in her heart, she knew that there was really only one choice that would satisfy her, and even though her love for GodsWatch wasn’t requited, he was the only one she wanted. However, going forward with that could lead her into pain and regret later on.
Would she be able to hold onto the rational side of her, and keep herself from falling even deeper, by pursuing something that could only be a mistake?