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Dragon Lance - Chapter 9

Chapter Nine

Once Guild Master Thoin left there was not much talking, or well, nothing that was of importance that was. It was then Celty determined she could leave without missing anything that might be crucial to what she had already found out, so she took her leave of the Western Guild.

After a good run and putting herself a good distance away from the castle, Celty whistled for her horse, mounted it and rode off toward her village putting Cloud at a full run. It was going to take hours for her to get to Slycrest and like their enemies, that was something she did not have. She had too many people to talk to, too much information she needed to pass on. It was times like these she wished she had a dragon like her other Avi, Tanya. She knew she would only be able to keep Cloud at a full run for no more than forty-five minutes to an hour. She was just glad it was night time and cool, so Cloud would not overheat too quickly, but she would still have to stop and walk Cloud and let him cool down and rest.

She decided at that point she would message Tanya. She was contemplating on messaging Creed but decided it might be best to talk to him face to face. She just hoped she got to him before Cerrakor did. She trusted Creed to tell Cerrakor to take a dive off a cliff, but she did not trust Cerrakor.

So much was on her mind as she rode along, and she did not understand. Why did they want the egg of the Divine Dragon? How did they know if it was a Divine Dragon? They must have been keeping a good watch on the egg that was laid, but that stems off to yet another question. How? From her understanding of the game, the Divine Dragons were not obtainable. So how and why? Her thoughts then drifted to their conversation about Tanya and the Knights of The Mystic Dragon. There was no dirt on Tanya. The only thing there was is Celty, and if she was breaking any rules with having Tanya and Celty then she was sure the administrators would have said something long before now. Though it still worried her in what they might try to trump up on her and the fact of what Celty is used for. She was an outside source to get information. She was a spy that was not affiliated with the Knights of The Mystic Dragons, so it made her hard to be traced or even recognized by anyone. Even the ones within the Guild she worked for, and how was that wrong. Every Guild has spies if they are affiliated with them or not. The only issue that that might bring up is the ones that were close to Celty and the fact that she used them to get information. The downfall of being a spy and getting close to anyone around you.

So deep in thought, Celty did not realize how long she had been running Cloud, that was until she was caught by a low hanging branch that knocked her off Cloud’s back. It had barely caught her right-side slamming into her shoulder, but it was enough to knock her backward, placing her to the ground as she withered under the pain coursing through her shoulder and arm.

“Fuck that hurt,” Celty growled as she rolled to her left side as she clutched her right shoulder, a tear rolling down her cheek. As she laid there letting the pain subside, Cloud walked up to her sticking his nose in her face.

“Hello… Cloud,” she told him, her pain reflecting in her voice.

He whinnied in her face and nosed her shoulder causing Celty to wince in pain as she gritted her teeth. “Alright alright, I’m up!!” she growled.

Still clutching her right shoulder, Celty sat up with a loud groan and a few curse words, she looked around noticing she was in the forest. “Damn it,” she grumbled as Cloud nickered softly at her. “I know I know.” She looked at him releasing her shoulder. “This is not good.” She took hold of his reins with her left hand as Cloud started backing up slowly as Celty pulled her legs under her to stand.

Once to her feet, she stepped up to Cloud as they both looked at one another. “Alright big guy. I only have one arm to do this with, so you are going to have to stand still.”

Cloud neighed as he bobbed his head quickly. In her left hand, she took hold of the reins and the saddle horn, her right arm hanging limply at her side. Lifting her left leg, she placed her foot in the stirrup, hopping slightly as she kept her balance next to Cloud, “This is going to hurt like hell.”

Cloud neighed again his head bobbing slightly as Celty gritted her teeth. Hopping slightly on her right leg, pushing up with her left as her body lifted so she could mount her horse, swinging her right leg over Cloud, trying to keep her right arm as close to her body as possible. She bit back a cry of pain as she fell forward on Cloud burying her face in his long white mane.

She whined taking a few deep breaths. “I think my shoulder is really messed up, my friend," she whined again as she pushed up to a sitting position. “I know we are in a dangerous spot and at the wrong time of day, but let’s take it nice and slow for right now. I think if I stay silent we should be alright.”

Cloud snorted as he pawed the ground then started moving forward. Celty gritted her teeth her jaw growing tighter and tighter with each step Cloud took. The impact through her shoulder and arm was excruciating. Never had she felt a pain as bad as this, but she had to stay silent. There was no way she could fight off an attacker, NPC or otherwise. She was just pleased she had not run Cloud to the point of exhaustion, causing them to be stranded in the forest but because of her negligent actions, she was hurt, and badly. Now all she could do was hope they made it through the forest with no more casualties, and that was going to be rather hard with at least another hour and a half ride.

---

Arriving back at Slycrest, Celty was slumped over across Cloud, resting against his neck. Her good hand tangled tightly to his mane as her injured arm dangled at the side of his neck. It felt like it took forever for them to finally make it to Slycrest at the slow pace Cloud was taking with her being injured, but they finally made it. As Cloud made his way through the village, Celty noticed he was taking her to the livery stable she normally boarded him at when she was staying in town.

When Cloud stopped just inside one of the stalls, Celty untangled her hand from his mane and slowly slid off his back. When her feet hit the ground she stumbled, falling back into a large pile of hay. Her jaw was so tense from clenching it for so long she could only muster a soft whine as she rolled to her left side. She could not take this pain any longer she had to stop it. Rolling to her back once more she opened her panel and signed out of Celty’s account.

When the account closed Ashley quickly sat up on her bed knocking her headgear off and grabbed her right shoulder. It hurt. Almost as badly as Celty’s hurt. Why? Why was she feeling such intense pain? The sensory on Celty was not turned up any higher than it was on Tanya, so why? Why all this pain? She calmed herself as she rubbed her shoulder, reminding herself it was only virtual reality. It was not real, nor would it ever be real. It was a game and nothing more. After calming herself she picked her headgear up off the bed, slipped it over her head and laid back down on the bed. She was signing in as Tanya now and she was hoping everyone was still on.

Opening Tanya’s account, she spawned in, in the courtyard of Whitehaven castle. She was shocked to see that the troop that went to the West was barely arriving themselves as the last few men and women rode through the courtyard toward the stables. She turned quickly and started up the steps, only to stop in her path to grab her right shoulder. It hurt, but not a hurt like she was feeling with Celty or even as herself in real life. It was stiff like an old injury or a pulled muscle.

“What the Hell is going on?” she mumbled to herself, taking a deep breath she started back up the steps once more. She had to talk to Aaron and Klein.

Quickly making her way to the Conference Hall to wait for them to come to her, she made her way around the table to look out the large windowpane watching the troop make their way inside. While standing there she must have gone into deep thought again, but she was startled when a hand went to her shoulder. Wincing she turned quickly and looked at who touched her. It was Aaron and with him was Klein, Sir Kedieg and Kirito.

“Are you alright, Tanya?” Aaron asked her a concerned look on his face.

Tanya looked at the ones with him as she nodded her head, paused, then shook it. “I have information I need to share with everyone. Though I don’t know if I want to wait to gather the other Knights or announce it now and we can share it with the other later.”

“If it is that urgent maybe it would be best to tell us, and we can gather the others tomorrow and fill them in,” Klein told her not liking how she was acting.

Tanya nodded her head slowly as she gestured for them to come closer and take a seat at the table. Once they were all seated and comfortable she relayed to them the information Celty overheard. The five of them talked and sorted things out the best they could with the information Celty gathered.

“I knew those bastards were up to something,” Aaron growled low in his chest. Klein only nodded as he looked down at the table, Kedieg grumbling under his breath.

“I know someone that might be able to help out in this. The bad part is… even if I contact him this very second I don’t know how long it will take for him to get back to me,” he looked around the table as the four of them looked at him.

“I would say try that’s all that can be done right now,” Kedieg told him with a grumble.

Klein nodded as he looked to Tanya. “And Tanya, don’t worry about them finding dirt on you or anyone else in the Guild. If there was foul play the Admins would have already disbanded the Knights of The Mystic Dragon.” He looked between Aaron and Tanya. “I would be more worried about them making false accusations against you with the other players within Dragon Lance than I would about anything else.”

Tanya sighed as her head nodded slowly, her eyes drifting to Kirito. She needed to talk to him about what happened to Celty and if he had any ideas as of why. Knowing it was getting late and sure that they all would probably like to sign out and get home, so placed both hands to the arms of her chair and pushed up only to nearly fall over because of the pain in her right shoulder.

“Tanya!!” the four males at the table exclaimed as they all jolted up out of their chair to grab her. Aaron catching her first since it was his direction she toppled.

Aaron stood her up and looked at her noticing she was holding her right shoulder, “Are you alright? What's wrong? Did you get hurt today?”

“No," her head shook. “No, I didn’t, and I am fine. My arm just fell asleep.” She told them. “I am tired though, and I am sure the rest of you are too.” She looked at the others there with her as they nodded their heads slowly. “What do you say we call it a day and meet back here tomorrow around two. I will message the other Knights and let them know to be here.”

The three men nodded their heads as they started pushing their chairs in and walking toward the doors of the Conference Hall. Tanya and Aaron making their way around the table. As Aaron stepped past her she stopped and opened her panel and messaged Kirito with three words.

-- Need to talk. --

She then sent out a group message to all the Knights of The Mystic Dragon.

-- There will be a mandatory meeting at two, at the Whitehaven Castle. This meeting is of the uttermost importance as is your presence. 

Lady Tanya_ --

While she sent the message out to the Knights, Kirito messaged her back and told her he would meet her in Dawnmeadow when she was finished. He departed the Hall leaving the others to their own.

Checking her messages, she did not reply to him, she just waited for everyone to take their leave. Aaron being the last to sign out as he waited for her, walking her down into the courtyard where she normally spawns in and signs out. The two signed out together, only for Tanya to sign right back in and take her leave into Dawnmeadow to meet up with Kirito. Walking into the village she saw Kirito right where he said he would meet her. In front of the church.

“Thank you for meeting me, Kirito. I really needed someone to talk to that knows—”

She fell silent as a couple walked passed them. She wanted until they were far enough away, and she spoke again, “That knows my situation.”

Kirito gave a stern, short nod, crossing his arms, “So does this have to do with you know who?”

“Mhmm,” Tanya hummed. “On her way back from the West she was so deep into thought she was not paying attention and was taken off her horse by a low hanging tree limb. It hit her across here.” Tanya gestured across the right side of her chest and shoulder. “Kirito… it hurts. Right now.” She let her hand rest to her right shoulder.

Kirito looked at her with a raised eyebrow, though his eyes held concern. “Really? Even though that incident was a separate issue?” When she nodded, her eyes tinted with pain, he narrowed his eyes, looking at her shoulder. His hand went to his chin, humming. “But how? I’ve only ever used one. Did she tell you how high her sensitivity was?”

“The same as Tanya’s, when she signed out, the pain was as intense in-game as out. She had to take a few minutes to collect herself IRL. She said she does not even want to log back in as her, in worry of the pain she is in…” Tanya paused and looked around then back to Kirito. "And it followed her. She’s left her at the livery stable.”

“But if her sensitivity was the same as it always was, there shouldn’t have been such a reaction,” Kirito shook his head, his brows knitted together in confusion. “Maybe it’s… sympathy pains? Like when someone tells you they had a dentist’s appointment and your teeth start hurting. But if the pain was the same in-game and out… that’s a huge reaction to it.” He looked back up at her again. “Are you sure she didn’t max her sensitivity and forgot about it? Like maybe she hadn’t played as her for a while and forgot?”

Tanya shook her head. “No way. That’s too dangerous. She said it was so intense that she thought she was the one that hit that tree limb not her Avi, and the ride back to the village on her horse was excruciating. She said she was even crying IRL and her pillow was soaked from perspiration," her head shook. “This doesn’t make any sense, Kirito.”

Kirito thought for a long moment before reaching out and gently pushing on Tanya’s shoulder with his fingertips. When she hissed and recoiled back, grabbing her shoulder, he sighed and shook his head. “Sorry, Lady Tanya, but I think I have to go with my gut on this one. The simplest answer must be the right one, no matter how improbable. I think before the two of you go trying to cook up some outlandish answer, your friend needs to sign back in and check her settings just to make sure. Once she does that, she’ll know how to proceed. If you want, I can go check on her if it will make you feel better. I have a healing potion with me. I’m sure that will help. At least on this side.”

He chuckled and scratched the back of his head. “As for real life, well that would be a feat of extraordinary talent, even for me.”

Tanya sighed shaking her head. “I know it’s not. I know for a fact it’s not. The headgear is directly in line with the neuro-pattern. It would not only be stupid but dangerous. I explained that to you the first night we met.”

Kirito shook his head and raised his hands in self-defense. “Hey, I don’t know why it would be maxed out. Maybe it’s a glitch or something. I don’t know. But what I do know is that if she had that bad of a reaction IRL to something in-game, we need to contact the game Admin.” He smirked at her and laughed. “Unless she’s got a house guest that likes to punch the hell out of her while she’s using the AmuSphere.”

Tanya huffed crossing her arms over her abdomen as she looked at him with narrowed eyes. She did not find it funny that he would joke about Jeffery hurting her. “I don’t find that funny, Kirito.”

Again, he raised his hands, stepping back several steps. “H-hey. I was kidding, okay? We’ll figure it out.”

As Kirito stepped back, he stepped in front of one of the church windows. Suddenly and out of nowhere, a wooden box came flying out of the window with a crash. The box barreled into the side of Kirito’s head, sending him crashing to the ground. The box split open and scattered dry rice all over the place, landing in Kirito and Tanya’s hair and all in their clothes.

A woman dressed in a white wedding dress came bursting out of the church doors, crying her eyes out. “YOU ASSHOLE! YOU TOLD ME YOU LEFT HER!”

Following her was the groom. “I-I was going to! Honest!” He went chasing after her.

“Ugh…” Kirito groaned, his head throbbing like someone threw a knife straight through his head. A sharp pain shot through his skull. He stumbled up to his feet, swaying as the ground spun. “What the hell?”

A bead of blood trickled down the side of Kirito’s face as Tanya quickly went toward him her hand on his shoulder, worry in her eyes. “Kirito! Are you alright?!” She pulled her white handkerchief from her pocket and placed it to the temple of his head.

“I… I don’t know… Damn that hurt way more than it was supposed to.” He looked at the handkerchief, seeing blood on it. “Blood? What hit me?” He looked down at the ground, seeing the box. He leaned down to pick up the box but the world around him spun and he stumbled to his knees, holding his head.

“Kirito!!” Tanya’s voice rose as she grabbed his arm.

Getting him to his feet she helped him over to a nearby bench and sat him down. Sitting down next to him, her hand lifted and took the place of his hand holding the handkerchief at the side of his head. “Get your healing potion out. You need it to stop the bleeding.”

“R-right…” Kirito managed to open his menu and go to the inventory screen, tapping on the icon that said Large Restorative. He drank the potion when it appeared in his hand, feeling his health return to the normal levels. On his player icon, he saw the red ‘bleeding’ effect marker disappear. “What happened?”

“I don’t know,” Tanya confessed falling silent for a few seconds in thought. “Kirito.” She looked to him, her hand moving from his wound since it stopped bleeding as she looked at it for a few seconds. “Open your panel again.”

He looked at her confused for a few seconds then opened it. “I don’t have any more healing potions if that is what you’re looking for.”

Tanya’s head shook as his panel opened and she slid closer to him to be in front of it. Going to the controls on their right she swiped up as a list of controls scrolled in front of them. At the bottom was a ‘Setting’ control. She touched the word ‘Setting’ as her finger drew back, another window opened. With the flick of her finger against the screen the list of settings scrolled from top to bottom. Halfway through the list, she stopped it from scrolling. There in the list of settings was the control for the avatar’s sensitivity settings. She sighed with a side glance to Kirito, hesitating in touching it in worry in what she might find within the setting. If this was a glitch within the programming a lot of people could get hurt from this, but she had to find out. This glitch had to be fixed and fixed quickly before someone really got hurt.

Though it was not just that, there was something more behind this. What, she was not sure, and she did not want to think about it, but her gut would not let her head turn away and ignore it. With a shake of her head to discard the thought, she let her finger tap on the folder named ‘Sensitivity’ as her eyes closed tightly praying for the best-case scenario.

“What the…” Kirito uttered causing Tanya to open her eyes. “There is no way.” Kirito’s hand lifted as he tried to turn down the sensor level by tapping on the minus button to the side of the level bar. “I have never touched this…” He kept tapping at the adjustments trying to get it to lower. He even tapped the plus button a few times, jumping back and forth between the two buttons.

Tanya grabbed his hand stopping him, she was shaking her head slowly as he turned slightly to look at her. “I need you to sign out and make sure your body IRL is alright.”

“What?” Kirito belted out with wide eyes.

“Just do it, please. If not for your curiosity. For my peace of mind. Please.” Tanya nearly begged of him.

Kirito nodded looking into her eyes. “First, I want you to check your settings, then I will sign out and if I am injured IRL I want to go to Celty.”

Tanya shook her head quickly as her eyes widened. “She is in too much pain. I don’t know if I can handle that right now.”

Kirito turned to her putting them face to face as his hands went to her shoulders. “We can take healing potions and anything else we might think could help her.”

“But it is going to take hours for us to get there on horseback,” Tanya stated, her head shaking again.

“Not if you can get your hands on a couple of Transport Stones.” Kirito told her, “We have to help her, Tanya.”

The two of them fell silent as Tanya’s head started nodding slowly. “Fine, I will get a couple of Transport Stones. Go check on your body IRL.”

“You first,” Kirito told her gesturing for her to open her panel.

Tanya’s hand lifted, opening her panel and making her way to the setting where the sensitivity for her avatar was located. When it was opened they both saw that her sensitivity was maxed out like his. She tried turning it down with failed attempts, Tanya looked to Kirito.

“Your turn.”

Kirito nodded and signed out of Dragon Lance. While Kirito was gone Tanya went to the closest alchemist shop and purchased four Transports Stones and a few healing potions. When she left the shop, she also spoke to a few of the villagers, asking them to check the sensitivity settings of their avatar. They looked at her oddly, but because she was the Guild Leader of their Providence they humored her. When they checked, they were just as shocked as her and Kirito when they saw it was at its max level and they could not get it to turn down.

Tanya reassured them she was taking care of it, but they needed to be careful until everyone was informed that it was fixed. She told them to keep a close eye on the Community Bulletin Board on the progress and to spread the word about the glitch. After talking to a few more of the villagers and confirming that it was not just a few of them, Tanya then messaged the game Administrator. As she was messaging them Kirito ran up to her.

“There you are.” He jogged up to her. “What are you doing?”

“While you were gone I talked to a few of the villagers and had them check their sensitivity level.” She looked up from her message panel to Kirito. “Their sensitivity is maxed as well and won’t turn down.”

“Damn,” Kirito mumbled as his hand lifted and combed through his hair. “It has to be a glitch.”

Tanya nodded. “I am informing the Admin now, so they can look into it.” She looked back at her panel. “What did you find out?”

“Well, I was not bleeding IRL but I had a real tender spot on my left temple where I was hit with the box.” His hand lifted to his left temple where he was hit, touching it gently but still winced.

Tanya added Kirito’s incident to her report to the Administrator as well. Sending the report, she then opened her friend's list and sent Kirito two of the four transport stones and the healing potions. “Grab those,” She told him as she grabbed one of the two stones for herself out of her storage.

Once he had his stone in his hand Tanya informed him of where they were going. Kirito looking at her confused. “Why don’t you sign out and then sign in as her and I will meet you there. Save the stone, these things are not cheap.”

Tanya nodded slowly as she looked at her transport stone, her eyes then lifted from the stone to Kirito. “Hurry, please. Her pain is bad. I don’t know if her arm is broken or her shoulder is dislocated. I just know the pain is unbearable, for her and for Ashley.”

Kirito nodded. “I will go now.” He lifted his stone then looked to Tanya once more. “You said she was with Cloud, right.” As Tanya nodded her returned the same and told the transport stone where he wanted to go. “Slycrest Livery Stable.”

Tanya watched him transport as she opened her panel and signed out. As her eyes opened in real life she took a deep breath. “Link start,” She announced signing in as Celty once back in the game. The pain was instantaneous the second the link locked into Celty’s account.

“Kir… Kirito…” she bit out as she rolled to her left side, hot tears rolling down her cheeks. She did not see anything because of her blurred vision and her ears rang and head pounded from the sheer pain that coursed through her body. “Kir… Kirito. Please… you have to be here,” she whined as she held on to her right arm.

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