Focusing on your breathing, you did you best to stay conscious, head hanging as Ægir found the teleport pad and stepped up onto it with you still on his back.
“Level 44,” you called weakly, a small beeping noise starting to ding away in your emergency health notifications.
“I hope I make it. It’s gonna be all for nothing if I don’t make it back to the house and heal myself,” you thought as your and Ægir’s bodies moved from level 5 to level 44, “home, Ægir,” you whispered as you lay your top half down onto his watery neck, praying he would know where home was.
Slowly, he lowered his head to the ground and snuffled around a little bit, before stepping down off the pad and heading in the direction of the house.
“Oh, thank god. It seems like he knows where he’s going.”
Off he went at a slow pace to begin with, gingerly picking his way along this new level that had a tonne of new sights and smells.
A few time, on flatter areas, he would pick the pace up and do a gentle trot or even canter, being careful to side step and keep his body under yours if he felt like you were slipping.
You would like to have said that you remembered the whole trip back to the house but you were pretty sure that you blacked out at some points, only coming too again when you heard Ægir’s gentle whinnies to check in and make sure you were ok.
“I’m good,” you whispered to him, swishing your hand back and forth over his cool neck to let him know you were conscious again.
It took a little longer to get back to the house because Ægir had to choose larger rope bridges to use to get up the floating islands, but eventually you were back at the door.
“Thank you, Ægir,” you said in a weak voice as you slid off his side and collapsed onto the ground.
Your stallion immediately dropped his head down to make sure you were ok and nudged you with his nose, letting a soft rush of air from his quivering, inquiring nostrils.
“I’m ok, I’m ok,” you said meekly, pulling yourself up to your feet and using him for balance, “I have to go now,” you added, patting his shoulder, “I will be back again soon.”
Ægir tossed his head up and down and you smiled.
“Recall!” you tried to shout but it didn’t come out very strongly, and Ægir’s form swirled around, his shape shifting from horse to vortex then disappearing into thin air.[PET SUCCESSFULLY RECALLED]
Your eyes glossed over the notification, then settled on your health bar that was sitting at 16% and was flashing red.
Feebly, you pushed the front door of the house open and entered, walking over to Migata’s empty avatar form on the lounge chair and flopping down next to him.
“I wonder if he has any healing potions on him?” you wondered as you reached into the nearest pocket of his.
Your fingers felt a small bulbous object and you gripped onto it and pulled it out to look at it.
“A health potion!” you gasped audibly, immediately ripping to plug out of the top and downing the potion in one go.
It was a strange feeling, to go from feeling like you were about to die, back to feeling alive, awake, pain free and light, and you smiled as you watched your health bar climb all the way back up to 100%.
“I feel so much better now. But I really should get out of the game and then come back with Hansu later. Best not push my luck.”
And with that, you logged out and sat up in the lab.
Although you knew that all of your pain had been in game and artificially stimulated, you still tested your shoulder, ribs and checked for blood on your forehead before leaving the lab.
“It was all so lifelike!” you mused to yourself as you left the building at 3:30am and headed home to sleep.
This time you fell asleep the minute your head hit the pillow, all that pain simulation in game had wiped you out and you were grateful for the break.
It was about 11am the next morning that Mirio texted you and you woke with a start when you heard your phone ding.
Reaching out for it, you unplugged it from the charger and rolled onto your back, holding the phone up over your face to read his message.
“Hi Y/N. How have you been?” he texted, “I’m so sorry I haven’t been in contact but our exams are almost done. Did you have time today to meet? I just wanted to see you.”
You smiled as you sent the message back to him.
“I’m glad exams are almost done! And I’m sorry I haven’t been in contact either, I’ve just been busy with… work.”
You hit send and waited for his reply.
“I mean, it’s not exactly a lie? I’ve been doing this for work purposes in a round about away…”
“Let’s catch up. Are you free around 12pm today?” he sent.
“Yep!” you replied, looking at the time, “cafe near your school?”
“Yes,” he sent back, “see you soon!”
You sent back a smile face and thumbs up then put your phone back on the side table to have a shower and get ready to see him.
“I don’t want him to know that I’m solo leveling up, but I’m curious if there is another way to get my skills and stuff up quicker so that I can really impress him when we do the mission.”
You grinned to yourself when you came up with a random scenario where you were walking in game and then a monster popped out and instead of him telling you to stand back, it was you telling him to stand back and then you just up and kicked the monsters ass and turned around to see his reaction.
In your mind, his jaw was on the floor, and you giggled out loud, reaching into the shower to turn the water on.
“I guess I’ve already leveled up pretty quickly, I’ve managed to get the boss of level 5 as my pet… so that’s gotta say something.”
Stripping off, you got in under the hot water and hung your head back to wet your hair, running your fingers back through it to get your head soaked to the scalp.
“I can’t wait for this mission!”