See chapter 1's intro.
"-and we of CC Corp give Moderator rights and power to the PC Balmung. The following titles the "Azure Sky" and "Knight of Fianna" will also be granted officially to this party. This name is legally copyrighted; intellectual party of PC owner Balmung and only to be associated with the character data in question..."
Looking up from his reading, Father sputtered. "What is all this?"
Still immersed in her reading, Mother dissected the moderator's contract and pay schedule where he would be "paid to play" with the keen eye of an accountant. With a hum that wasn't really an answer but would serve as one, Mother didn't respond, merely flipped a page over.
"Satoshi?" Father turned name into a demand.
Mouthful of eggs in a basket, he couldn't answer. Unwilling to sacrifice dignity with an unclothe "murph?" he focused on chewing. Eventually one must swallow, and when he did Father's unwavering stare made repeating the question unnecessary.
"Orca and I... or rather Balmung, my PC...l go under the team name "the descendants of Fianna". That's what we're called in a group when we work together."
"PC?" Father demanded, flaunting his lack of knowledge in a biting tone that told all about how much he hated being "out of the know".
"Player character." Satoshi explained, seeking to sooth. "The person you pretend to be in the World."
In trying to cleanse his words of computer jargon he knew he'd made a mistake. Via the special, magical, possibly-linked-to-genetics-not-upbringing flash called intuition, Satoshi was well aware of what his damnation had come from. That word, pretend. More suited to a child of five (and excusable when found there) not a young man of eighteen, the lapse more than insured damnation, it guaranteed it. Father rose an eyebrow, to that Satoshi took a rather large chomp out of his breakfast. He used the motions of chewing like Balmung used a level one scroll against an impossible enemy. To stall and wait for an opening.
Or a respite.
Blinking father poked in his pockets looking for what wasn't there. Satoshi, knowing where the device really was, just went to the junk cabinet, rummaged, and found it. Quest complete he gave the item to Mother. Thoughtfully turning the calculator "on" before passing it over. For that, Mother cast him a quick smile of gratitude that eased the knots in his guts a bit.
"You… pretend, play pretend, in this game of yours?" Father grated out, and the tension and its accompanying knots came back, full force.
"I'm a respected member of the community." Satoshi snapped.
"Respected?" Father growled. Respectability in his mind meant holding down a job, being honest and honorable to your family, and being loyal to your country. Satoshi, ever his father's son, knew that. Furthermore he acted accordingly despite all skepticism to the contrary.
"I have a job; it's called being a blade master. I've earned the title knight, which is a sub class of the blade master occupation, and it's only rewarded to those who act both valorous and courteous in all instances. Twice a week, I train newbies -people totally new to the game- in how to play, and I give tours of the World." Checking the urge to grit his teeth, Satoshi took another savage bite instead. The way this was going, breakfast wasn't going to last much longer.
"Are you even listening to yourself? Seriously, Satoshi? A knight? You've-"
A sharp rap on the table top cut off Father's rant, and to that his son was relieved. Seeing she had everyone's attention, Satoshi's mother tossed her own two cents in. And, per her quirkiness, it hardly related to the scene before her.
"I need two pieces of paper, a pen, white out, and last year's tax return."
Thrown off by the sharp tangent, Father blinked, lost his thought. He got it back though, quick and sure.
"Yuki I'm trying to wake the boy up to reality here!" The boy in question dropped his gaze, eyes glaring holes into the table he scowled so terribly. Oblivious, Father carried on. "Is it that bloody important?"
Small face serious, Mother nodded the dark eyes behind her glasses serious.
"It might be. But I don't want to say for sure until I work all this out in front of me."
Sullen, surprised, Father grunted, then stood. "I'll get it." Tromping to his feet he stormed off to do as he'd promised.
"So." Lips quirking in a small smile, Mother's tone made Satoshi look up, and Mother met Son's gaze without a bit of anger or disgust in her eyes. To that Satoshi softened, some of his anger fading. "You're a knight, are you?"
And, because it was appropriate and felt right he let an equally small smile touch his lips. The voice that slid past his lips was his, but the words were not.
"Balmung, white knight of the Azure sky, descendant of Fianna, at your service, mi'lady."
And to that, mother laughed. Long, loud, and sure, Even after Father's return.
"You-" Orca's voice ever gruff and horse greeted his arrival, it was a welcome slice of normalcy. "-are late?"
"Why so tentative old friend?" Balmung greeted. Steel topped boots setting leaves and the like to flying. Unlike regular, plain old leaves, there were hues of purple and blue secreted amongst the more fiery, mundane, colors. Some were mushy, others brittle. Though childish he always felt the urge to kick off his boots, test the earth under the loom for a while.
Perhaps that's why he avoided wood areas so often, fear he'd give out to temptation and be seen doing so.
"The clock just turned. So you were sort of late."
To that Balmung laughed a soft chuckle that Orca always out boomed without even trying. When the moment passed both were smiling, familiar, friendly smiles.
"Alright, so why are we here?" Balmung asked, still smiling. "At a dungeon ten levels lower than us?"
"Well... considering One Sin was twenty levels higher than both of us put together I thought we could use a break."
"-And?" Balmung pried, knowing from how his gaze wasn't met, the ever so slight pause before the word "considering" and the slightly rushed quality to the whole that something was a foot. Well, that and the fact he knew Orca. They were friends after all, there was always that and the fact that friends who didn't know friends were merely acquaintances.
And he'd have none of those. Not one, it was all or nothing, for both of them. Perhaps, that was what made them get along so well, they both felt the same.
Taking heart from Balmung's soft smile, Orca met smile with a grin. "Well... I need some mushrooms." Balmung's smile was fast to fade, but since he'd started, Orca finished. "You know... for my Grunty."
"I don't like Grunties."
"I know that."
Smile well and gone, Balmung settled the matter of temptation with a compromise. Scuffing a steel shoed roe against the foliage he took heart in the delicate sounds, the crunch and crinkle and cool that teased his toes. It was a temporary respite, and when it was over reality came to roost in force. As a knight he was constrained to obey any honorable request put to him, but this felt a little too much like degradation.
"How many do you need?" The knight ground out.
Checking a sigh, the Azure Sky, nodded.
"Let's get this over with." He grunted.
"Hey, after we're done..."
"-No." Balmung snapped. Cutting off the request before it could be completed neatly spared him a task. And knowing Orca as he did, he'd probably just barely nicked out of a long and tedious visit to his best friend's Grunty Farm.
"I." Balmung growled out each word, blue eyes flashing with something like murderous intent in
their depths. "Do. Not. Like. Grunties."
"So I gathered." Orca sighed, running a hand over the back of his head the blade master sighed. "To mushrooms then?"
"If we must." The knight grumbled, more than showing his discontent over this "quest".
"Don't tell me you don't like item hunting?" Orca gaped.
"It's not that." Balmung sighed. "I just don't like it when stuff I normally eat looks up and negotiates with me."
Orca snickered, and to that Balmung blushed.
"Seriously, it's just... wrong..." The white knight groused. "I don't even eat apples any more, not after that last one screamed at me!"
Snickers became chuckles, which in turn grew into full blown howls. Face so hit it must be crimson, the knight of Fianna was grateful that not everything translated from real to World. Ignoring Orca's half strangled protest, Balmung of the Azure Sky gritted his teeth and marched off in search of... Mushrooms. Of all the stupid things.
As for how hard this would be? Well it'd be easy, a small blessing amongst this humiliation. After all, to find food in the World one merely just followed the screaming.