“Don’t be silly! I’m glad that you’re ok but you live and learn. Sometimes life hands you experience just to help you grow as a person,” Migata said, placing a hand on your shoulder and smiling at you, “and look how far you’ve come! You probably had to work really had to get to this point! I’m proud.”
It was as if you had never been validated in your entire life. Suddenly, being praised after having had Hansu telling you off this whole time, awoke something inside you and you teared up as you looked up at him.
“U/N?” he asked softly when he saw your eyes welling up.
“Thank you,” you said with a wobbling chin, “I… I have been working really hard and—” It was at that point you burst into tears, unable to hold your emotions back.
He grabbed you into a hug and pulled your body against his.
“You’ve done so well,” he said softly, “I look forward to fighting alongside you.”
This made you sob even harder and after getting yourself together again, you stepped back and wiped your eyes.
“Those were some badass moves,” O/N said to you, stepping forward, “how many skills do you have?”
“I only have 4, but I’m working on making them really strong,” you said, “I started on level 1 and have been fighting my way through each level.”
“Which level did you get up to before we started the mission?” Butterfli3 asked you.
“Level 7. The red bear level,” you replied, “I kinda ran into a bit of trouble on that level…”
“What do you mean,” Migata asked.
“I went through the town area and got stopped by a beast tamer named Grizzlee.”
“Grizzlee??” Butterfli3 and O/N said at the same time.
“Yeah… he said he knew you and … something about a rat merchant?”
“Oh my god. It haunts me to this day,” O/N groaned, dropping her forehead into her open palm.
Butterfli3 patted her on her back and you gave them a quizzical look but continued on.
“I kicked his bear’s ass though. So he wasn’t too impressed.”
“You took on his bear?” Migata asked with surprise.
“Yes?” you replied, “why does that surprise everyone?”
“Well I mean, usually people would fight player V player or beast V beast but rarely is it player v beast.” Migata rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
“I’m surprised he stopped you,” Butterfli3 said, “was there a reason?”
“Oh! Yes. He thought I was a beast tamer. Wait give me a second,” you said, stepping back and calling out for your horse, “Ægir come!”
Suddenly the air thickened as water swirled in from all directions, a soft whinny from a horse accompanying it as Ægir was built before the very eyes of your awestruck team members.
As the last piece of the watery puzzle fell into place, you put your hand onto your water stallions shoulder and patted him with a grin on your face.
“This is my horse,” you said with a smile, “his name is Ægir. He’s the former boss of—”
“— level 5,” Butterfli3 finished in awe, “how did you… how did this happen? You have the boss of level 5 at your service.”
“Strange story. I was grinding on level 3 and I saved some beavers from a fox attack and a blue fairy gave me an orb that, if I fought the boss of level 5 and got his health to 50%, then I could catch him… kinda like a Pokémon thing?” you said.
“And you fought him when you were only just practicing on level 3?” Migata asked with surprise, “that’s… amazing!”
“I nearly died,” you said, patting Ægir, “he put up a good fight.”
Ægir snorted and the group chuckled.
“Well… let’s walk and talk then… will Ægir let me ride on him with you?” Migata asked.
“I’m sure he will, he does as I ask and has been there for me through thick and thin so I’m sure it will be ok… Right, Gir?” You looked at your steed and rubbed his neck lovingly.
Migata saw the look in your eye and smiled to himself.
“She seems a lot more peaceful overall. She’s made memories by herself in game. She has learned new things, and has made new friends. She’s really come a long way…”
You got Ægir to step a leg out and quickly mounted him then nudged him forwards with your heels and stopped him beside Migata for him to hop aboard.
With a little difficulty, and help from Butterfli3, your combat mage finally managed to get up on top and clung to you as you urged your stallion forwards while Butterfli3 and O/N walked behind.
“We’ll swap, I promise,” you called back to them as you picked up the pace and trotted on with Migata.
“Ok!” Butterfli3 called as you disappeared off ahead, “she’s really come a long way, hasn’t she?” he commented to O/N.
“Yeah. She kinda reminds me of you in a way,” O/N mused, “not with shyness though but inexperience. But the more experience she gets the more confident she becomes.”
Butterfli3 nodded. “And Migata very much likes her as well.”
“Yeah. He’s pretty smitten I’d say,” O/N chuckled.
Up ahead on horseback, you and Migata chatted about your in game experience.
“Hey also,” you added, “could you please not tell Hansu that I was playing in game without him. He would be so mad. I know he’s only looking out for me, but I really do feel like we’re not seeing eye to eye anymore. I know I’ve said this before but I don’t want to be a scientist anymore. I’m really done with it.”
“Then you do what you want to do. Don’t let Hansu make up your mind for you,” Migata said from behind you, his hands on your waist, “once the Goha mess is sorted. Change jobs.”
“You know what…. I’m going to,” you said confidently, “and I think I’d like to work at UA.”
“Really?” Migata asked, “that would be really cool. I want to teach as well as do hero work. Maybe we might be co-workers there one day?”
“I’d love that,” you said with a smile, looking back over your shoulder at him.
He smiled down at you then bent his head and kissed your lips as Ægir plodded along.
“I think meeting you and playing this game has been the best thing for me,” you said with a smile, “if it weren’t for this, I’d still be stuck in that lab with no life.”