“Glad to be free of you,” master said in a high and mighty voice to Tamajiki as he took his Mahi and left, not even bothering to look back over his shoulder.
“Well,” the burly man said to Tamajiki once master had left, “I’m not particularly interested in ego tactics, so I won’t be making you call me master. You can call me by my username.” He pointed to the name above his head.
“Praetorian,” Tamajiki said.
The guy nodded, “Roman guard…”
Tamajiki looked at him. “Are you a guard in game?”
“I am, actually,” the guy replied, not elaborating any further as he turned back to the guns and started to sort them in types.
“Is there going to be a war?” Tamajiki asked, gesturing to the guns.
“No. Just the usual buying and selling,” Praetorian replied, “but I don’t want you to move shipments for me I want to train you up as a guard. You have good instinct.”
“Thank you,” Tamajiki replied.
“I’m assuming you have some martial arts training in real life?” Praetorian asked.
Tamajiki nodded, “something like that.”
“Good,” Praetorian picked up a gun and placed it into his pocket, “let’s go then.”
He headed past Tamajiki and out the door.
“Where are we going?” Tamajiki asked as he followed behind.
“Slither trees…” he commented, his comment making Tamajiki’s skin prickle.
Being in game many times before, Tamajiki knew what the slither trees were and he didn’t like them at all… they were trees made of snakes, their sentient limbs winding over and around each other and striking out at anyone who passed.
They were quite ghastly looking and venomous too…
Again, not wanting to give himself away, he pretended like he didn’t know what slither trees were and asked as innocently as he could…
“What’s a slither tree?”
“You’ll soon see,” Praetorian replied over his shoulder, “also… are you not concerned for your friend that your previous guardian mentioned?”
“I am,” Tamajiki replied, “but I do have higher level friends who I will ask to go and rescue her…”
“If you need any help let me know. I also, dislike guys like your previous guardian,” he said, “I was quietly happy when I saw you take him on.”
“If he dislikes people who abuse the system then why is he still with BB?” Tamajiki wondered as he quietly followed on behind.
All too soon the light through the sparsely spaced trees started to fade as the woods got thicker- a stiff wind starting to pick up as the weather changed.
“I don’t like this,” Tamajiki thought, looking around.
A flash of lightening in the distance, followed by the rumble of thunder, made Tamajiki jump slightly but he continued to follow Praetorian into the dark bush ahead.
He knew the slither trees were getting closer, waiting for ,him and as they got further into the woods he became a lot more on edge.
Looking around Praetorian, who was walking a little ahead, he saw two of the slither trees looming up, their reptilian shape twisting in the opposite direction of the wind- making it harder to figure out what was driving them.
“Ok,” Praetorian said, “this is a good way to see your innate skills.”
Suddenly Praetorian spun and grabbed Tamajiki, pulling him by his villager shirt and shoving him forward towards the tree.
The snakes, having seen both humans approaching them, lashed out, 4 at a time, to try and catch Tamajiki in their jaws.
Tamajiki moved on instinct and his hand reached back to grab for the chain link sword that he would usually always have on him when he was in game as Butterfli3, but it wasn’t there this time.
Twisting and ducking, he managed to avoid the front attacks but then picked up a stick as he swept low to the ground and thrust it up into the soft underside of one of the vipers jowls.
With two jumps backwards, he got out of harms away and then looked at Praetorian.
“Not bad at all,” Praetorian mused, “you work with a staff in real life?”
Tamajiki just nodded, his chest rising and falling rapidly as his breathing rate spiked.
“Impressive. I did see you go to grab for something… so I figured you were used to working with some instruments.”
Tamajiki just scratched his cheek and looked down.
“Ever used a gun?” Praetorian asked.
“No?” Tamajiki replied, he hadn’t even held one in real life.
“Here,” Praetorian said, handing him his gun, “try it. As a guard, I have to be a sharp shot for people a distance away. Hand to hand combat does come in handy some times but for the most part it’s those in the distance you need to eliminate.”
Tamajiki took the weapon lightly and looked it over.
“This gun, in particular, gives you a red line during shots so that you can see where you’re aiming. It’s a good beginner gun.”
Tamajiki held the gun up with both hands and pointed it at one of the swinging and swaying snake heads as the reptile hissed and flicked its tongue at him.
“Like this,” Praetorian said, giving Tamajiki pointers on how to hold it.
After firing a few rounds, and not getting a great deal of shots in line, Tamajiki looked at Praetorian.
“Are you not worried that I might shoot you?” Tamajiki asked him.
“You won’t. For a few reasons… One, I’m your guardian- If you shoot me you also lose everything as well. Two, I saved you- and you strike me as the type that is honourable. And three – I’m giving you training, who shoots the man who is training them?”
Tamajiki shrugged and nodded. “That is true.”
“Try again,” Praetorian said, gesturing to the twisting, hissing and snapping snake tree limbs.
That night after leaving B/F’s house, you sent Tamaki a message to see how his time in game had been.
He didn’t reply.
“He must still be in game?” you thought as you made your way to his house.
Wanting to see him, after being apart from him for a few hours, you knocked on his front door and waited.
No one answered, so you tried his front door and amazingly it opened! Softly, you entered while calling out a greeting then slowly made your way to his room. He was there, on the bed, with his nervegear headset on so you lay down beside him and put your gear on before calling for the game to take you away.
You woke on the bed in masters house, only to find a depression in the mattress beside you, telling you that Tamajiki had been there… but certainly wasn’t now.
“Is he still in the house somewhere?”
You got up and walked softly to the door and peaked out. You could hear master in the house and decided not to leave the room just yet- in case the weirdo did something to you.
“Maybe I should just sneak out of the house and go for a little explore… maybe Tamajiki has been sent to the markets or something?”