Cedric wiped the blood from his stiletto onto one of the few patches of his ragged cape not already caked with pixelated gore. He closed his eyes. It would be a couple of turns before the enemy reinforcements caught up with him.
“I’m still alive, you know,” said Kyra, huddled in the corner of the small, nondescript room.
“And you have, what, one point of health left? I’m all out of potions.”
“Step away from the door. I can still eliminate a few of them before she stops beating herself up for making a bad play and starts the game back up.”
Cedric laughed. “What’s the point? Even if they eliminate us both, she’s going to reset the game eventually, and maybe not the next time, but at some point she’s bound to get us through this chapter alive.”
“You know, she’ll win the game soon,” said Kyra, sighing. “There are only four chapters left. When we reach the end and get to live out our virtual lives in virtual peace, I don’t want to have to remember myself dying without a fight a billion more times.”
“How do you know you’ll even make it to the end?” Cedric said. He heard shouting from beyond the short hallway where his Lord unit had recently fallen, causing the “Game Over” for the player.
“She always resets when someone’s eliminated.”
“In Easy and Normal modes, yes. But this is Hard mode. She may not be so willing to reset the game from now on without Lady Rosa being taken down.”
“Do you really think she’ll quit after this round?” Kyra asked. “Last time, when she waited a month to start playing on Hard mode, I’d thought maybe, just maybe she’d let us be without coming back for the final challenge.”
Cedric shrugged his shoulders. “Look on the bright side, if she goes for round two and you’re lost during this playthrough, you’ll be revived.”
“True.” Kyra shuddered. “Have you ever talked to Barlo about what it was like, being gone—totally wiped from existence—until she switched game modes, after his sudden but inevitable betrayal?”
“Serves Barlo right, betraying us again and again.” Cedric tried to sound serious, but he couldn’t help but put up a half-smile. It wasn’t like Barlo could do anything about the game’s storyline. He had to betray them, every time.
“It’s scary, being slaves to the game, you know, Cedric?”
The duo’s pursuers dashed into view, unwieldy lances swinging. “We don’t want to kill you,” one said.
“Neither do I,” said Kyra. She frowned as she gripped her Electricity tome in one hand and forced its energy out of her other hand twice, reducing the first enemy soldier to three points of health.
Cedric drew a dagger and jabbed it into the weakened man’s chest. He disappeared.
The first of the surviving enemies stepped up and thrust his lance where Cedric’s lightly-armored torso had been just before he’d deftly leapt aside. He stabbed at the soldier in return a couple of times with his dagger. The other enemies stepped forward, waiting their turn to face off against the Level 7 Rogue.
“I should level up this time,” said Kyra. She switched out her Electricity tome for a Blaze tome and eliminated the wounded Level 15 soldier with a lofted fireball. “Yep.”
“What did you get?” asked Cedric. He switched his dagger out for his stiletto and hurled it at the enemy two squares away. It appeared back in his hand, virtually bloodied.
“Just Magic and Skill. I’m a little disappointed, but I won’t get to keep them anyway.”
The Voice of the Game boomed from on high: “Nope, sorry. But she just turned the game back on, so you might have a chance at better stat changes. You two appear in the first cut-scene in 3…2…1…”
Kyra and Cedric shook hands as the world faded to black.