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A Year and a Half Later
It was a beautiful spring day in the late afternoon, as Ashley and Jeffery walked toward the door of their home after school. Jeffery bouncing excitedly at Ashley’s side giving her sad begging eyes. It was all an act on his part, but he did not like what she was going to be doing later that evening.
It was not her he did not trust. It was her friend Kurt—the one she was going to help—that Jeffery did not trust. Kurt had been trying to get Ashley to leave Dragon Lance for some time now, but Ashley would not have it. However, now, Kurt had found a way to get Ashley to at least come check out the VR game he was trying to get her to switch over to. He told her he was trying to build a Guild and failing. With Ashley’s big heart, she agreed to it.
She gave him a side glance shaking her head. “I told you already. I am going alone.”
“Aww, come on Sis!” Jeffery stomped his foot, looking down at the ground. “That’s not fair! I want to go!”
Turning at the door before she opened it she stopped and looked at her little brother. His bright milk chocolate eyes still beamed with life, even after three years of starting the Guild, and he had grown so much. He was now about her height, so it was not hard to look him in the eyes when she talked to him, though he was still a pain, as her little brother and as her advisor in the Guild.
Her hand clamped down on his shoulder. “Jeffery, I told you. I need you to watch over the Guild.”
“But that’s what your Vice Master is for. I am just a ‘pee on’.” His arms crossed over his chest as he let out an exasperated breath. His intense eyes fixed with hers.
She laughed softly at his expression. “You're not a pee on, Jeffery. You’re a Master Elemental Alchemist and my advisor. You're far from a pee on.” She turned and opened the front door to their home walking in. “Look,” She dropped her backpack to the floor in the entryway, turning to look at him, putting both hands to his shoulder’s.
“Musashi needs you. He won’t let anyone else near him when I am not around but you.” She turned and looked at him. “Do you want to come back to a full dragon and no Guild?”
Jeffrey chuckled at the thought, combing his fingers through his scruffy jet-black locks. “I guess not.” He looked up at his sister a pouty face still in place. “But how long are you going to be?”
She shrugged as she turned to grab up her backpack once more. “I don’t know, but I will be checking in from time to time. I don’t want Musashi thinking I abandoned him. You saw what happened with Aaron and Un and he was only gone for a few days.” She started her path through the foyer, her brother running up behind her.
“But he found Un as an adolescent. You raised Musashi from an egg.”
“All the more reason I will be dropping in from time to time.” As she descended the stairs to her room in the basement, she stopped, looking back at her brother. “After all, I am the Guild Master. I have to make sure no one is slacking off and they're doing their job.” She started back down the stairs. “I worked too hard to build Knights of The Mystic Dragon. I am not about to ignore it just because I am helping out a friend build his Guild.”
Reaching the threshold at the bottom, she turned the corner going to her room as she heard the loud footsteps of her little brother running down the stairs after her. “Kurt is an idiot,” He belted out on his way down. “At his intelligence level, you will be helping him for the next decade.”
She chuckled shaking her head as she turned seeing Jeffrey standing in the doorway of her room now.
“I just don’t see why I can’t go this time. I won’t ask again if you take me on this trip.”
“Hmm,” she hummed as she dropped her backpack at her desk.
“I won’t. Really. Just take me this once.” He stood rigidly and erect like a soldier in front of his commander as he lifted a hand in front of him, his index finger at a pointing position over his heart. “Cross my heart.” He made an X motion over his heart. “Take me this time and I won’t ask again. I will stay behind and watch the Guild with Vice Master Aaron.”
She walked over to her brother with a heavy sigh placing both her hands to his shoulders. “Not this time, Little Bro.” She turned away from him walking over to her bed.
Jeffery’s hands balled into fists at his sides as he looked at his sister. He could not believe it had been three years since he started playing Dragon Lance with her. It felt like only yesterday he was running down the steps to her room to announce he had finally gotten his own AmuSphere to play VR games with her. It was amazing how far both his sister and himself had gotten in playing the game. At first, he thought making his Avi an Alchemist was a bad move, but as time went on he grew to not only like his Avi but to love it. And with the decision his sister made over a year and a half ago to start a Guild in the provenance of Whitehaven, it helped him grow even stronger.
However, it was not just him it helped. It was everyone that lived in that provenance. They all thought it was going to be a rough start for them when it first came about, but it caught like a wildfire. And the next thing they knew, the Guild she created the Knights of the Mystic Dragon, and the provenance of Whitehaven flourished and grew. Becoming the largest and most respected Guild in the world of Tarragonia. As of today, a year and a half later, there was not a player within Tarragonia that did not seek out either membership in the Guild or residency within one of their villages in the Whitehaven provenance. He was so proud of his sister for what she had accomplished in their VR world, but right now he felt a little betrayed with her running off to another VR game just to help Kurt. Kurt did not help Ashley out when she built hers. As a matter of fact, he told her she was a fool for even trying. So why?
“Damn it, Ashley!” Jeffrey blurted out.
She turned to look at him with narrowed eyes. “You are fifteen! And you will not curse at me!” She turned and stepped toward him as he cowered and stepped back from her.
“Sorry Sis,” He said hurriedly as he cringed, lifting his arms in front of him hoping not to get struck by her.
“Go on. Get out of here,” She scolded him shooing him out the door. “We have homework, and less than an hour to do it in if we want to get some gaming in before dinner.”
He nodded quickly as he turned from her to leave. “Jeffrey?” She called to him before he stepped from the room completely. He turned to look at her. “I know why you want to go.” His eyes widened as she continued. “You have nothing to worry about. I am coming back. I would never walk away from what we all built in Dragon Lance. It means far too much to me.” She smiled warmly to him. “But if you really want to go with me just to check out the game…” Her head nodded. “I will take you tomorrow night.”
Jeffrey shook his head. “No. I am fine with staying behind, but you tell Kurt if he even thinks about offering you a members spot in his Guild. Not only will I come to kick his ass. I will bring every Knight of our Guild with me to help.”
Ashley chuckled, shooing him off again with a wide smile. “Go get your homework done.”
He turned quickly and ran from the room, heading up the stairs as he announced back at her. “I will!”
She chuckled shaking her head closing the door to her room. “I am sure you will, pain in my butt.”
It was a little less than an hour later as Ashley closed her Math book. She stretched out, arms above her head and her legs extending under the desk as a loud groan slipped from her.
“Ugh, I hate Math.” She grunted and stood from the desk pushing the chair back in place. She looked at the clock nodding slightly. “Good, I still have a little bit before dinner. That means I can check in on the Guild, then head over to see Kurt in his game after dinner.”
Turning she walked over to her bed and lifted the AmuSphere from the shelved headboard. She pulled her long raven hair back over her shoulders, placed the headgear over her head, and turned it on, sitting down on the edge of the bed. She then laid back, her head on her pillow and stretched out on the bed.
“Link start,” Ashley called out activating the headgear.
At that, a white background with shooting colors whizzed by her eyes giving her the effect of being in the middle of a meteor shower of colors. As the colors faded she appeared in a large courtyard with different sized Dragons, and Knights dressed in white, trimmed in blue and silver.
The women’s uniform was a white miniskirt with blue trimming on the bottom, a white corset top with blue trimming and a spade-shaped tail in the back. Around their shoulders was a long-sleeved, white swallow’s style tailcoat with blue trimming. Their boots were white with silver trimming, as were their thigh high stockings. On the sides of their stockings were silver embroidered dragons. Fastened around their waists by white belts were their swords.
The men were dressed in long, white and blue trimmed trench coats with folded collars. Their shirts underneath were white with blue trimming and high collars. They wore white pants with white boots that had silver trimming and buckles at the top. Their trench coats, emblazoned on the back was the coat of arms, the Silver Dragon, and on the upper sleeve the device of the Knight in order to identify the knight in battle.
Seeing her Vice Master’s dragon, Un, across the courtyard, she smiled brightly pulling the hood of her white and blue trimmed cloak from over her head. Un’s calm obsidian, bronze flecked eyes looked to the men below him as he tossed his majestic four horned skull. Two enormous central horns, and two shorter horns at the side of the larger horns atop his head, both just above his large, round ears. The onyx-like crystals following his jawline sparkled as the light from the early evening light caught them. His head reared, his rounded nose with two thick, slits for nostrils and small tendrils on his chin raised high above the men in front of him. A few sharp teeth showing out from the sides of his mouth gave Un a fierce looking appearance.
His head turned as his broad neck flexed down from his head to a golden slim body which gave his thick scales a warped look. A row of thick armor plating trailed his spine. One of the men rubbed his gloved hand across Un’s belly covered in massive scales, the coloring much darker than the rest of his body. His four slim limbs carried him carefully around the men below him, allowing Un, to stand elegantly and dignified among them. The men below the beast were careful where they moved since each of Un’s feet bore five digits, each of which ended in keen talons seemingly made of bone.
Un’s huge wings suddenly opened as his hundred and thirty-eight-foot wingspan extended over the men below him, showing off all their beauty from his shoulders, ending at his shoulder blades. From body to tip, his wings were curved, the edges of the skin inside the wings were tattered from battle, and small sharp tips grew from each ending like tiny spears. His thick tail ended in a gentle point and covered in the same warped scales as his body as it flicked behind him.
“Lady Tanya, welcome back,” a few of the men replied pulling her attention to them as they kneeled in front of her. Their heads lowered as one of their arms crossed over their chest, fist balled at their opposite shoulder.
She smiled at the three of them and nodded. “Thank you.” Her eyes went back to looking for the Vice Master. “Have any of you seen—”
She was stopped abruptly, as a hot heavy gust of wind from an annoyed huff blew her a few steps forward. She froze in place. The hood of her cloak back over her head.
After a second, her hand rose to remove the hood once more as she turned to look behind her. There, hovering over her was a massive dragon with tranquil yet deadly ice blue eyes bearing down on her. The dragon reared his wide, horned skull, giving him a very ominous looking appearance with his two horns that sat atop his head, just above his small, warped ears. Twin rows of small powder blue crystals on his chin ran down the side of his jawline on either side. His nose stubby with two narrow, angular nostrils. His sharp ivory fangs extended from the sides of his mouth. He lowered his head, his strong thick neck flexing down from his wide head to his thick muscular body, covered in smooth scales of midnight black. A row of small spikes ran down his spine. His belly was covered in smooth curved scales slightly lighter in color than his body; they contorted as the beast snorted again. He stepped back from her on four huge thick limbs that allowed the creature to stand poised and proud, as his twenty digits clicked from the keen talons seemingly made of onyx, like the horns atop his head. The base of his wings started from his shoulders and ended at the middle of his back and when expanded, from tip to tip, was a hundred and forty-two foot of demonic looking wingspan. The inner sides of the wings were smooth, and the bone structures ended in a curved sharp tip like a talon. His thick tail ended in a smooth point and covered in the same smooth scales as his body.
Tanya looked up at the majestic beast before her as it looked down its nose at her. “I know. I am sorry... I forgot.”
She reached into her cape, her closed hand pulled back out. “I promise, I won’t forget next time.” She turned her hand over, palm up and opened her hand. There in the center of her palm sat a tiny sparkling cube. A sugar cube. The dragon seemed to smile at her as it lowered its giant horned head, and gently removed the sugar cube from her hand with its long pearl white teeth.
“You spoil that beast, Tanya,” The voice of her Vice Master rang out.
She turned her body slightly to look at him. Like everyone else, Aaron had changed so much. He had grown to be a tall handsome man with shoulder length dirty blonde hair, that he sometimes pulled up in a tight ponytail. His eyes seemed to be greener, reminding her of a finely polished emerald. His build was tone, with broad shoulders with a deep stern voice to him, but his heart was solid gold. A Knight of valor and honor to the bitter end. He was the perfect Vice Master and she could never ask for a better man at her side to help rule the Guild.
“Maybe you should try that with Un, Aaron.” She wrapped an arm around the beast's muzzle from below, her other hand resting to the large bridge of its nose as she stroked it tenderly. “He might learn to forgive you faster when you disappear again.” Her warm blue eyes met his deep green ones.
“I doubt that,” her second in command replied as he reached out to stroke the beast’s nose. It reared its head to avoid his touch, its wings expanding to full length in warning to back away but was careful not to do harm to its Master. “And you have made him a man hater.”
Tanya chuckled reaching up as the dragon lowered its head once more. “Musashi does not hate you. And if he does hate men then you will never have to worry about one touching me. Because he will eat them.”
Aaron smiled coyly, folding his hands behind him as he looked up at the beast Tanya so properly named Musashi. “Reason one for why I try to become his friend.”
Tanya released Musashi with a kiss to the side of his muzzle as he then took flight over their Guilds castle. “Are you saying you have other motives with me other than being my Vice Master, Aaron?”
Aaron quickly looked down from the sky where he watched Musashi flying off to check the perimeters of their land. His cheeks were flush, eyes wide. “Of course not! You should know better! I only serve as your Vice Master!”
Tanya chuckled as she walked toward the castle her hand waving over her shoulder. “Mhmm,” she hummed.
A few of the men were laughing at Aaron with his bright red cheeks as he turned to them giving them the evil eye. “Get back to work slackers!” He yelled at them. He then turned and followed his Guild Master into the castle, his short white cape flapping behind him as he walked away in a huff.
Entering the Conference Hall, Tanya removed her cloak draping it over her chair. She turned hearing Aaron enter the hall.
“I can’t believe you, rattling off with that nonsense in front of the men.”
“Oh, get off your high horse. I was only joking with you.”
“Like they knew that,” Aaron retorted. “Some of the new men here don’t know when you're joking or serious.”
He stopped on the other side of the long, wide table leaning down on it with both hands and looked at her as she looked out the large paned window behind the table. She removed her long fingerless white gloves, her eyes fixed on the dragons flying above the castle. The sun shining down on her made her look so regal in her Guild Master uniform. Her long raven hair pulled back at the sides and clipped to the back with a silver dragon he bought for her from one of the merchants on her eighteenth. Tanya’s uniform consisted of a white corset with a white belt skirt around blue short pants. Panels of blue cloth decorated in the Guild’s crest draped down from her belt skirt, showing off her legs. Covering her bust and her hips was silver armor. Around her shoulders was a blue cape with a silver dragon on the back that hung from silver rounded shoulder guards with white trimming. Her boots were white with silver trimming, as were her thigh high stockings. On the sides of the stockings were silver embroidered dragons. At her side the weapon forged from the Mystic dragon: the beautiful Mystic Sword of Whitehaven—a full heavy tang sword, dressed in a smoky blue, matching the color of their uniforms. He shook his head slightly with a wide smile. It was hard to believe she came this far in three and a half years.
She was fifteen, he was eighteen when they first met. She was a greenhorn and did not know a fencing sword from a broadsword. A jousting lance from a javelin spear. She was frail and was lucky if she weighed ninety-eight pounds sopping wet. Her raven hair was shorter than and her body yet to fill in from her teen adolescence to womanhood. However, she had an air about her that drew not only him to her side, but others as well and her bright blue eyes filled with life and a positive go-getter attitude that would not quit. Though she had a fiery bite to her when needed, she also had a kind and fun-loving side to her as well. He could not help but take her under his wing and teach her everything he knew. He watched her grow and become what she was today.
Then the day came when she came to him talking about starting a Guild. For the life of him, he never believed it would grow the way it did. He was astonished when it took off like a wildfire, but then again, he should have expected it with all the people that admired her from her first year from playing Dragon Lance. He pushed up off the table and walked the length keeping his eyes on her as long as he could. He chuckled softly, stepping around the table and started down the back side of it, his eyes back on Tanya.
Three and a half years later a beautiful woman stood in front of him. A Guild Master of the Knights of The Mystic Dragon. The largest, strongest and richest Guild in the Dragon Lance VR game. Their dragons far more powerful and tame than any other Guild. No one left the Guild. Only joined. They were all happy, even the villagers that live in the small villages at the base of their castle and within their territory, and it was all because of one person. Guild Master Tanya.
He stopped in front of her lifting his hand as his fingertips rested under her chin. She turned to look at him as he smiled at her. “I thought you had to go meet up with a friend in another game?”
“I do,” she said turning from him as she lay her gloves to the table. “I just wanted to stop by and see everyone before I took leave of you all.”
Aaron chuckled stepping toward her. “You mean you wanted to stop by and see Musashi before you took off.”
Tanya smiled shaking her head. “No, I wanted to see everyone.”
“So what are your orders in your leave of absence, Guild Master Tanya?”
Tanya looked to him and laughed. “No need to be so formal when it is just us Vice Master Aaron.”
They both chuckled softly as Tanya took a seat, Aaron helping her pull her chair out, he sat down in his rightful chair to her right and looked to her.
“You're worried about something. What is it?”
“No, not really worried. Just thoughtful,” She replied.
“What’s the difference?” Aaron chuckled lightly. He looked at her as she looked away toward the window. “Are you worried I won’t be able to take care of things here?”
Tanya looked back to him quickly. “No! Not even! I know you can handle this. Probably even better than me.”
“Pft, in your wildest dreams. They love you here. Even the NPC.”
Tanya laughed out loud. “That’s going a tad far there. NPC have no emotions.”
“So what is it?” Aaron asked her again.
Tanya shook her head. “I guess going into a whole new world. I have never been out of Dragon Lance. I will be starting all over. No skills. Minimum HP. No experience.” Her eyes widened. “No inventory. No money. No food.” Her head fell forward to the table with a thud as she gave a muffled whine. “I’m going to die.”
Aaron shook his head chuckling softly at her then lifted her head from the table. “You will do fine. It’s not like you are going over there to help him take over. Just help him build his Guild. Not only that. I heard all that follows you now with the new set up in the VRMMO’s.”
“Really?” Tanya questioned as she looked on at him.
Aaron shrugged combing his fingers through his shoulder length dirty blonde hair. “That’s what I heard. I have not been to any other worlds since I came here. So I don’t know firsthand. Just going off hearsay.”
Her brows raised, her eyes growing wide. “Great.” She paused with a sigh. “But you’re right. I am not going over there to help him take over. Though it feels odd being his advisor and having no experience or skills at all in the world.”
“Well then just be glad no one can see your information. They will never know how experienced or inexperienced you really are.”
She nodded. “True.” Her eyes wandered back to the window.
“We will take care of him. Both of them,” Aaron told her as his hand went to her shoulder.
She looked back to Aaron with a soft chuckle. “Sometimes I think you can read me too well.”
Aaron stood as he stretched, a light groan emitting from him. “I would be a horrible Vice Master if I could not read my Guild Master. After all, we are supposed to be able to read one another. That’s how we know the others move in battle and know when to go in for the kill.”
Tanya smiled with a light chuckle as she looked up at him then stood. “True.” She looked back out the window shaking her head. “I won’t be gone long I promise, and I will be stopping by from time to time. Not sure if I will catch you online when I stop in, but I will let you know if I was here.”
Aaron smiled back at her shaking his head as well. “Musashi will let me know when you have been here. There is no need for any other type of notice, but if you really want...” His smile grew. “You can always send me a love note PM style.”
Tanya laughed and smacked him playfully on the arm. “Whatever…”
With that, she and Aaron sat and talked a little longer until she finally had to leave for dinner IRL. When it was time for her to leave she told Aaron to keep reassuring Cerberus she was coming back and not switching games.
As Aaron chuckled nodding his head, Tanya told him good day once more and signed out returning to the real world.