Scape #1

 

It was a dreamscape coated in virtuality; everything was coated in vector lines like it was an outdated special effect from the original Tron movie. Ghost-like forms phased in and out of existence, temporarily stretching the vector lines hugely at the points of emergence and exit.

 

Reno found it difficult to transport himself as each step seemed to take him leaps and bounds further than he intended; it was only after a few moments of experimentation that he discovered that there were only a few points on the map and that he could only travel between one point every time he moved outside of a point’s specific radius. Any other features of the map were merely aesthetic, features not meant to be interacted with.

 
It was a surreal place to be.

 
Currently, it appeared as though there were four points that formed a triangle. Two points for the base, each situated on the left and right edges respectively, and then a third point for the tip of the triangle; finally, there seemed to be a point within the middle space of the triangle. Why Reno didn’t know.

 
At a distance, Reno saw a blurb of light rush out from one of the other points to his point. Smashing into the periphery of his point, the blurb then solidified into Sora; that must have been how Reno looked as he frantically traveled between the points upon his initial entrance. Neat. So far, this was quite different from what he had expected.

 
“Different, eh?” Sora said.

 
“Yeah, eerily so… why?” Reno replied.

 
“It is just the way it is. Quests are supposed to do very different things than typical side-quests; they are supposed to have you concretely analyze the world in specific ways using specific sets of data— information— from papers and previously read sources. This is why it is so important to read those sources before you do a quest, otherwise, you won’t know what the hell you are supposed to do!”

 
“I see. Are all quests quite like this?”

 
“Nah. Most quests follow the basic structure of this quest; that is, the world is coated in these funky lines and there is a certain number of points, but other than that, the quest could focus on any number of topics as gameplay mechanics. Some are combat heavy while others are puzzle-oriented. Others combine the two or whatever the administrator wanted or felt like coding.”

 
“Weird. It will take me a while to get used to it.”

 
“I bet! It took me a while too!”

 
Reno felt vulnerable. He wanted to ask Sora to stand by his side and help him through the quest but he didn’t want to sound needy.

 
“So, I will help you through this quest— this one time— if you want me too; I remember how nervous and unsure I was the first time I did a quest. Heavens knew that I would have given anything to have a buddy by my side to take the edge off. Only if you want to, though. If you have it down, then no prob. Thought I would ask is all.”

 
Reno was flabbergasted. Sora just seemed to know what to say at just the right time.

 

Reno figured that Sora was either really good at guessing his emotions or that he was just extremely poor at concealing his thoughts. Likely, it was the latter as Reno knew he had a bad poker face.

 
“I would be thankful, sora. Thank you.”

 
Sora smiled and patted his back.

 

~

 

Scape #1

“Okay, so listen carefully because I won’t be able to repeat myself too much.” Sora said. “In any quest, there is a certain number of points on a certainly shaped grid. Right now, our grid is shaped as a Simple Triangle. There is four points: A, B, C, and the middle, D. The points on a simple triangle always follow the same routine as though you were looking at it on a piece of paper: point A is the tip, point B is the left-hand corner, point C is the right-hand corner, while point D is the middle. Sometimes the shapes will be different but that is not important right now. What is important is that wherever you wrap to on this shape, the point will remain consistent. You need to remember this because when more complicated maps emerge with more complicated grids, efficient team-communication will be our only chance of victory. Currently, probably Issac and Airya could solve this by themselves no problem; this won’t be the case in the future, though.”

 
I nodded in agreement. So far everything was straightforward. But, Sora continued.

 
“Whenever you first begin a quest, you will want to search around your point. Why is because after you search around and find the most relevant details, you will want to use an item called “Communication Pigeon” to send the relevant details to your teammates so they don’t have to wrap in and see the details of your point for themselves; right now, our grid is so small that we don’t have to worry about that— I am sure that Issac and Airya will be on their way shortly to check this point out themselves.”

 
—and sure enough, with impeccable timing, that was just what happened. Both lingered for a while as Sora continued explaining the concept.

 
“Later, when the maps get large, you will not be able to check out every point yourself. More likely, you will only be able to check out a select grid while your teammates handle other grids. It can’t get pretty crazy later on; last semester, for my 300-level Interactive class on Victorian Literature, our final exam took the form of a quest and that, let me tell ya, was fucking crazy; I won’t get into it but if this course is anything like that one, then the final exam quest here should be balls to the wall crazy, especially with this being a 400-level class.” Sora paused a moment to mumble under his breath something exasperated about Graduate Students.

 
Regardless, and getting back on track, the first thing to do is to take note of the important features of this point. So, let’s do just that.”

 
“Already done.” Said Issac. “Point D is comprised of a newly constructed temple that has an artifact at the center of the altar. When you touch the artifact, a cloud of text appears over it that says ‘All three senses of the word appear (often intertwined) in Romance literature, one of the best (if least used) sources on medieval society’ (97). Obviously, this is from the first paragraph of the paper. The rest of these points, then, disseminate the rest of those senses, each artifact revealing a different sense. Point A is home to the third meaning; I remember reading in the essay how ‘A ‘two-way traffic’ connected these men of law, war, and politics with Arthurian romance no less than chanson de geste’”.

 
“So,” tentatively remarked Sora, “We just have to force that connection by reciting a line by the altar?”

 
“Yup. This is just a grade-1 level quest, so it is deathly boring.” Said Airya.

 
Together, the group warped to the altar in point D.

 
The altar, Reno was surprised to learn, was exactly like the altar in the real game world outside of this quest. Except this altar was brand new with its marble beautifully coated with the richest of paint Reno had ever seen. The group approached the altar. Issac began the intonation.

 
“’To read chivalry as a set of personal qualities in a knight risks reducing chivarly to a ‘micro’ force; it was, in fact, a ‘macro’ force doing major social work’” Issac then paused and let Airya read the next passage as he laid his hand on the middle of the altar’s empty basin.

 
“’[chivalry] became the framework for debate about how the dominant laypeople should live, love, govern, fight, and practice piety— real issues with real consequences.’” Airya, when finished, then laid her own hands within the empty basin next to Issac.

 
“’Romance literature,’ Sora continues, “’one of the major purveyors of chivarlic ideals, thus becomes the debate about such basic social issues. The tension crackles’” And Sora’s hands joins the rest. Now it was my turn. I approached and read from the still open script on Issac’s book: “’Romance is not simply a literature of celebration or agreement; it is a literature of debate, criticism, reform’” I was about to join the others before a sharp glance from Sora and a hushed whisper told me to finish with the page citation. “Oh… uh… ‘99’”. The others looked relieved. I joined them by placing my hands in the now overcrowded basin; after they touched the others, all of us dissolved into reality, the world stretching into indiscernible streaks, us side-stepping into the next grid.

 

~

 

Scape #2

 

“Okay, this time around, things are going to be slightly more complicated; each of us, I think, should take a number of points and then use some Communication Pigeons so we can solve this normally. We won’t be able to babysit you, Reno, I hope you can catch on.” Airya said before warping to a new point. Issac did the same.

 
I wasn’t very happy but I just choked down my objection, like usual, and pushed on.
“Here, take some of these.” Sora remarked, handing him a few tokens that had engraved ‘[Communication] Pigeons’ on them. “It looks like this point is pretty big so I will help you on here and then we can get over to the next point. Sound good?”

 
I nodded. Sora might have been a bit kooky in his own way but at least he didn’t ever put me down. I liked him for that.

 
So, we went about our way as the others did likewise in their own grids.

 

~

 

Issac (Scape #2(b))

 
Another day, another quest with my cracker classmates. Sure, by now I had gotten used to them, even grown to like them, but it still didn’t stop me from being annoyed every time they held progress back; like that Reno honky. Kid rubbed me the wrong way and it was seriously grating just being around him at the same time.

 
Whatever. I could stand on my own. And, honestly, I have had more incompetent classmates in the past. At least the kid tried. Whatevs, the moment called for something different, for completing this section of the quest.

 
Being experienced— I had previously completed several Interactive Seminars, alongside that awful Airya woman— I knew the routine when it comes to Humanity-based seminars and that routine was called ‘connect four’. Beginner quests like these was just simple puzzle solving; move this piece over to this piece, pay attention to how systems work together, and make sure you did the readings. It was like being five again.

 
So, I did what I always did. I created a continuously running quest log; an item that I always kept on my virtual body. Whenever I did a quest, or even sometimes a side-quest, I would keep track of relevant details on each map and grid by jotting down notes and rough diagrams in it. On a quest as easy as this, it wasn’t actually needed. Really, I would only need a map journal when it was time for major quests near the end of the semester. But, I was keeping track of things anyway because it was good to get into the habit at the start of any academic year, least I get complacent.

 
After I had warped away from Reno, I warped away to the grid not already chosen by Airya. Normally, I would resent her straddling off to have the best grid to herself, but seeing as how this was hardly an Elite graded quest, there was nothing to be bitter about. I sucked it up. The woman was a bourgeois bitch, what could one really say? After mentally chiding myself for using reactionary language, I went about my task: rapidly wrapping between each of my new grid’s points, I quickly saw that it was another basic triangle.

 
Jotting down the shape of the grid and its point resonance in my notebook (or, how many warp points existed on the grid) I went about the second task— cataloging all of the so-called “Details” within each point. Each point of a grid always had a set number of excerpts from an assigned text; these excerpts usually functioned in some story-specific way according to the quest. This quest wasn’t anything special. In fact, I had done almost this exact same quest at least once or twice before in other courses. I wouldn’t imagine that Dr. Algrotto would pull out the impressive things until when the course material, proper, began and we were reading Le Morte Darthur.

 
From my investigation, I found the following details for each point.

Point A
Only one detail existed, which is a low amount even for this early in the game. But, that detail was an amulet which bore the description from the first full paragraph of page 102. Story-wise, this amulet belonged to a knight, or perhaps his sweetheart, and is supposed to signify prowess, just as Kaeuper talked of in his paper.

Point B
Two details here, though they were both of the same paragraph, that which immediately followed the first full paragraph on page 102. This was the section in which Kaeuper referenced knightly violence. The first part of the paragraph was emblazoned on an oversized boulder— common tactic in these puzzle quests— while the second (2) was glossed over a very noticeable indent; obviously, I needed to move the boulder, representative of the first half of the paragraph, over into the indent which represented the second part of the paragraph. I inwardly sighed. This shit was ridiculously easy. Baby’s first platformer, easy. But, I did as I needed to and climbing on top of the boulder, I found a small herb garden where I was able to pocket a few healing spices. The real demand was simply aligning the text in the proper order so that my team could advance to the next level, but I never turned down some healing goods. Storywise, it appears that this point served as a sort of playground for the maiden’s children. Made sense.

Point C
This was the final point on the grid, which I found odd since it was so densely packed with details. I figured that this point could have been divided into several, but whatever, this quest was likely just an auto-generated quest anyways, so why did I care?

 

Regardless, the first detail was simply a random locale in an airy, desolate wasteland. It bore the description of the first full paragraph from page 103, the one where knightly campaigning is discussed. A bit dramatic for my taste, considering the phenomenology of place, but again, whatevs.

 
Following right down the page, to the second paragraph on page 103, there are three details which divide that paragraph into the point. Sentence one was glossed over a rusty spear, sentence two was glossed over a shattered shield, while the third sentence, the modern English translation which Kaeuper provides, was glossed over an old, dusty skeleton. Algrotto is a bit too on the nose with this quest. Obviously, with the grid being that of a freshly built shrine, this dream state is the nightmare which the maiden from the forest talked of, likely her ancestors’ struggles as they were violently converted to an Abrahamic religion. Trauma like this made sense since the final detail— simply a series of graves— was glossed with the page’s final paragraph.

 

The only part of the page that was missing was the excerpt from Orderic Vitalis. To me, knowledgeable in such matters from many hours of trial and error from previous courses, knew what I had to do. I had to take the amulet I found and place it in the grave alongside the skeleton. This way, the thrust of the page’s meaning— that of respecting the peasant bodies— would be enacted. Narratively, then, this section took place “after” the concepts of the essay, assuming that the people discussed in that paper lived real experiences which, in Vingaard, was more likely than not. Still corny, all these years later, I thought, a bit ham-fisted, but I’ve since grown attached.

 
So, that is what I did. Gently moving the skeleton to the pit-grave, I then placed the amulet on top of its broken shield. A sign of respect for its struggle, though this instance, story-wise, did not align perfectly with the essay; in the paper, after all, the peasants had bee saved by bowing to the cross; here, in this micro-narrative, it seems the opposite; perhaps a commentary on professor Algrotto that he thought Vitalis’s narrative unlikely?

 

Maybe.

 
Regardless, my job in this grid was done. Time: 35 minutes. Not bad.

 
Reno and sora likely weren’t even halfway done by now. I figured instead of helping them— they would need to learn such things on their own if Sora wasn’t enough— I decided to re-read the paper in full; I wasn’t spending an obtuse amount of money on this seminar for nothing.

 

~

 

Reno and Sora (Scape #2(a))

 

Reno was upset. Sora was upset. Both were tired.

 
It wasn’t that they had been at it very long, nor was it that they weren’t making steady progress, because they were, what was gnawing away at them was that both seemed to be at each other’s throats. It wasn’t high-intensity disagreement by any means, but every time Sora made a suggestion, Reno shot it down believing that his own suggestion, something he cobbled together in a few minutes, would serve them better; Sora, obviously, didn’t take too kindly to this since he was the one who had gone through several previous interactive courses. But, ever since Reno got a couple of the details correct— a concept that Sora had to explain to him at least a couple of times— he suddenly got very big for his britches and Sora thought less of him for spurning his own help. Maybe it was immature but he knew Reno was wrong so what could he really think?

 
To settle, Sora had allowed Reno’s bad train of thought go its own way. Not long after, it proved to be as erroneous as he knew it was when the path didn’t result in the details meshing together well. Instead, it resulted in a “re-set” where the incorrect pieces were brought back to their original starting point by the computer, something which tended to only happen when the player(s) had truly fucked up the puzzle or point’s initiative.

 
Now, the duo sat next to one-another backs together. Both were huffing and puffing after finishing Reno’s latest aborted attempt at a contribution.

 
“Now we do this my way— understood?!” Sora gasped between breaths.

 
Reno muttered something in agreement; Sora didn’t care what was muttered as he was too tired to care if Reno’s pride was wounded.

 
Reno’s success early on was quickly figuring out that they were in a Semi-Circle grid. One point on the side, and two forming near the base. He did this by inferring that if they had begun on Point C then logically, they should be in a fundamentally different shape than from before; this was correct. And even though Sora thought it was just dumb luck that Reno thought of it, it didn’t change the fact that he was correct, technically speaking, even if the actual dynamics of grids were more complicated than he knew.

 
When it came to solving the basic puzzles, however, Reno just didn’t know up from down; he was thinking in far too big of terms for what this quest was concerned about. They had wasted precious time chasing dragons but not longer. Still, in point C, Sora decided that they should warp to point A just to have a bit of fresh air.

 
Once they were back to point A, Sora took a deep breath and got to work.

 
Point A, contrary to Reno’s overactive imagination, was far simpler than he had suspected. The point was an outdoors water mill burnt and blustered by a confrontation. A small area, the mill had a single wheel— inactive— that was missing a crank; Sora figured that after setting it in motion, the (relatively) perpetual motion of the machine would keep it going (at least in video game logic, anyway). This part of the mill was glossed over with the first paragraph of the new section from page 99 of Kaeuper’s essay. (Sora explained to Reno that “glossed” was the term when professors inserted details of assignments into the virtual world; anything and everything could be glossed, from giant structures to literally pebbles. So, it was vital that during quests they remain vigilant. To gloss, one had to simply outstretch their hand and focus a tiny bit of stamina to see if something was glossed).

 
Walking down the sterile riverside, the interior of the castle courtyard just ahead and behind a still fairly pristine battlement, aside from a few blood streaks here and there, Sora figured that they would likely find the handle near the battlements. And, he was right; just underneath one of the red streaks, near where the ground was blooded, lay the crank, glossed over with // “Yet war as conducted by the chivalrous still meant raiding and ravaging more than set-piece battles Given the looting and widespread destruction (especially by fire), the general population may not have especially noticed much improvement as towns and villages were torched, bridges were broken, populations were forced to migrate, vines were cut, shipping was sunk or burned” (99) //. Sora picked it up. Reno looked sour.

 
Bringing it back to the mill, he and Reno inserted the crank. Though it took several minutes of laborious work to get the mill running again, soon they heard the massive gears turn and the water flow. Sora had been right about the perpetual motion of the mill; he was sure that a historically accurate mill would need an energy source to keep it moving, but such accuracies would undoubtedly be in later quests, so why nitpick?

 
Walking back down the bank, he and Sora realized that there was a sparkling font in the water. The mill’s massive gears churning up the small river must have revealed something relevant to their quest; he told Reno to wade into the water and though Reno didn’t take too kindly to being ordered around, he did, eventually, do as he was told, though Sora no doubt knew that they would likely later have a minor quarrel; there was something off about Reno today, he just didn’t know what. It wasn’t like he really knew the guy and, truth be told, he did just take pity on him, but today he seemed especially different. But, in the middle of a quest wasn’t the time to muse on such things. He had to focus.

 
Reno waded to near the middle of the tiny river, stream?, and did as Sora had instructed him to do; he hovered his palm over the water, concentrated, and, to his amazement, saw words scroll past the object. He yelled back to Sora. “It just says, ‘Chivarly was a code of violence in defense of a prickly sense of honor’ (99)”.

 
“Okay,” yelled back Sora. “I remember that section from the paper. Collect a bit of the water from one of the vials I gave you and let’s head over to the next point.”

 
Reno took out a small vial from an interior pocket and scooped up a bit of the shiny water. Wading back out onto dry land, he realized just how tired he was his muddy, soaked boots and pants had to suddenly adjust to gravity. It was surreal to think that he was in a virtual world; or, not too surreal since, at the moment, the quest’s version of Vingaard was actually a bit creepy.

 
He didn’t notice it much during the first map zone, as he was so overwhelmed by everything, but now that he had some time to adjust, he realized that the world was oddly stillborn. There was no movement— no bugs or insects littered the air and were strangely silent of their incessant noises; no sounds of the wind or far off people shouting, even the light seemed to pervade from everywhere instead of a single source high above in the heavens. Looking off into the distance, though almost romantic in normal Vingaard, was frozen here; Reno, for the life of him, couldn’t make out any aspects of the world— everything beyond a certain distance was just an indescribable blob, like an image too small horribly enlarged so only the vaguest of colors and details remain. Although normally this wouldn’t be disconcerting, as humanly vision can only see so far, after all, here it seemed to happen monstrously soon, like when you upload a perfectly sized photo but it comes out all indistinct and hazy anyways. Thinking about it now, Reno was actually a little creeped out. This place was empty. Of everything.

 
Warping back out into Point C, Sora knew where to use the water. There was only a single glossed object here, and that was a large empty birdbath within the palace courtyard. It was glossed with the first full paragraph from page 100 of the companion; directing Reno to dump the vial into the bath, the fountain lighted up specularly before it ultimately crumbled revealing a single tiny item— a human skull.

 
Placing his hand over it, Sora saw that it was a glossed item.

 
// “What is at issue here is not a set of idealized abstractions but the bloody, sweaty, muscular work Sir Thomas Malory called ‘dedys [deeds] full actuall.’ Such deeds leave combatants ‘waggying, staggerynge, pantyng, blowyng, and bledyng’ (100)” //

 
Professor Algrotto, though totally phoning in on this quest, definitely had a sick sense of humor, Sora gave him that; they, role-playing as knights, had just worked themselves up finding this crank and turning it to reach this point. Sure, it was acts of war or violence— that was why it was satire as far as Reno was concerned— but it was still something which captured the essence of these deeds referenced by Malory, which Sora thought they would likely see much more concretely in just a little while. Sora picked up the skull and they warped over the point B.

 
Sora knew where to place the skull. During their previous tour of the grid when Reno thought he knew all the answers, he quickly glossed an above-ground graveyard and saw a passage from the essay which talked of grotesque trophies at the battle of Evesham.

 

Obviously, this skull belonged there, with the others. As it was a rather long walk, Reno spoke up.

 
“Are quests always like this?”

 
“What do you mean?” asked Sora.

 
“Like… the world. It is so still and deathly.” He tried to respond, and by filling him in on his thoughts as they were in the other point.

 
“Oh. I dunno. I’ve never had this professor before for an interactive course. You’re right, this quest world, now that you bring it up, is oddly frozen but each professor has their own preferences, so I suspect it will change later on.”

 
Reno believed Sora. He had no reason not too. It was he, Reno, that was the fresh meat here, not everyone else. So what did he really know? Nothing, that is what. Regardless, the stillness of this place began to grate on him; as they walked to the increasingly disturbing above-ground graveyard, which seemed to become more ‘real’ the more Reno thought about the concept, the more his eyes began playing tricks on him. Walking, he thought he saw splinters of shadows puff in and out of the Point. Situated so far off, just before the “immaterialization zone” of the horizon, however, he couldn’t be sure that what he was seeing was real, or just a figment of his stressed-out imagination.

 

~

 

Scape #3

 

Moving back to the central shrine, the group toggled onto the third and final map that was a part of this quest.

 
As he expected, both Issac and Airya had finished their respective grids long before he and Sora managed. The more they talked about their own grids, the more Reno realized that he and Sora were lagging far behind, likely, Reno rationalized, because of him; Airya talked of her intricate puzzle involving balancing the delicate tensions of a knightly and lordly pulley system that had taken the place of the societal tension in medieval society; Issac talked of the diffuse and spread out abstractions inherent in his own grid and it made Reno reflect that he and Sora had gotten off easy compared to the others. The longer this quest went by the more inadequate he felt.

 
Whatever the case, it was quickly coming to an end and he was glad for it. The group was on the final Planescape of the quest and after finishing it, they would be able to claim their petty rewards and head home; Reno, for one, was looking forward to heading back to his dorm and having a small internal roe with himself.

 
The final Planescape found the students in a dungeon. Rank smells and the chilling patter of chains echoed in the dark. It wasn’t exactly original design and, according to Issac, clearly demonstrated that professor Algrotto had clearly that tweaked this quest design from a colleague. As far as Reno was concerned, though, it still had a certain charm as this was the first time that Reno had experienced such a place for himself. As such, it was creepy as shit and had he found himself in this place by himself, he would probably have been frozen with paralysis; the fecal smears on the walls, after all, seemed pretty damn convincing to him, as were the maggot-infested rat corpses.

 
“Alrighty, let’s get this done and over with;” announced Airya with far too much aplomb than Reno thought was needed, though, in this dingy place, it did give her an aura of authority that Reno never noticed outside in the real world. “The mini-boss to this thing is close-by; in and out in ten minutes, tops.”

 
Reno liked the sound of that.

 

~

 

There it stood— a giant, a giant slithering mass of obscene eye-balls glued together with globs of sap-like puss boiling out of its infected orifices. Reno took one good look at it and dry-heaved.

 
Beyond the disgusting creature lay a stone pedestal. Clearly some kind of sacrificial altar or torture place for the prisoners. Otherwise, the room was sparse, save some rusty chains dangling from the ceiling and a few token skeletons hanging about.

 
Reno tried to back up slowly, but like in a B-rated horror film, Issac’s firm hand prevented me from inching any further to the gate in a ‘hey, bud, you’re not going anywhere’ gesture. I began to visibly shake. Perhaps for the first time in my life, I was truly scared.

 
“Sora… you need the experience more than anyone else here. I think you should get this creature done in. Airya or I wouldn’t have any reason to dispatch this low-level shit. It can at least give you some more skill points.” Issac said.

 
Airya chimed in to agree with Issac. “Also,” Airya butted in at the last moment, “Take Reno with you; he can at least hang back and throw you a healing herb if you need it.” Airya handed Reno a healing herb.

 
Reno was scared shitless. In order to be placed within the encounter zone, he had to be pushed. Dragged. Forced. After several minutes of struggle, he relented and cautiously entered the encounter circle with Sora.

 
Sora, evidently, knew at he was doing.

 
Drawing his sword, less a sword in this dungeon and more like an energy beam, Sora charged at the creature. How Sora could leap headfirst into that beast’s path, Reno didn’t know. But, Sora swiped and dodged at the beast with ease. There wasn’t much violence involved. Though the monster was horrifying to look at, for every slash the beast endured, there was only an evanescent clash of sparks generated by each impact against the beast’s supple flesh.

 
After a while, Reno became more courageous and circled around the battle perimeter.

 

He managed to inch his way over to the pedestal. Meanwhile, Sora had cursed. Stealing a glance, Reno saw that the beast, though now deflated by several eyes— an odd liquid goo spread out over the battle arena— it had gotten in a lucky blow and Sora was knocked on his feet.

 
Returning his focus back to the self-appointed task at hand, Reno stretched out his hand to gloss the detail, if any such were there, and he believed that there was; to his credit, he was correct.

 
// “…we can recobgize that kin rivalry and knightly competitiveness contribute powerfully to the destructiveness at work throughout the later romances… and in Malory’s great book” (108). //

 
Vague, as usual, Reno thought. More to the point, what does it mean?

 
Thinking on it, he placed himself in the professor’s shoes. If he designed this quest— or, let’s be honest, tweaked it from another source— then he would likely expect everyone to have been at roughly the same experience levels. Myself and Sora are a bit of odd-balls as far as university credits go. Therefore, he would be expecting competition among the students for the previous experience and items contained within. This passage, then, as it stems from a section of the essay wrapping up the idea that knightly orders considered evils to be inter-order conflict, seems to serve the idea to remind us as students to work together. Ok. If that is the case, then how?

 
Reno continued to think to himself. He looked around the dungeon. Maybe there was something he missed?

 
Rats, he found nothing. Looking back over to Sora, he was still holding his own against the beast, but he was getting worn down. Dashing toward Sora, he quickly gave him the healing herb during one of his dodge moves and then quickly returned to the pedestal trying to figure out how to help.

 
Suddenly, the pedestal glowed. A large crack appeared down the middle and it split open. There, just within the slab of stone, laid… a glove?

 
A single leather glove dyed in deep green. Reno lugged it from its stony prison. Dusting all of the rock matter out of the item, Reno called out to the others for help.

 
“You find out item stats by using your hand— just ‘gloss’ it like you are investigating a detail!” shouted Airya with a smirk on her face, internally laughing at her own half-assed joke.

 
Reno did just that. The stats were unimpressive as far as he could tell.

 
[White Glove, Uncommon Item; Item Type: Unknown; Properties: Healing Factor, V.5; Attributes: Unknown.]

 
There was something off about the glove but Reno didn’t have the luxury of trying to understand exactly what. He slid the glove on his right hand and felt the world shift; putting it on, everything felt as though it had suddenly jerked to the right, as though he was on a Tilt-er-World ride and the gravitational forces were having their way with him. Though the world quickly corrected itself, it was a momentary dozy to Reno.

 
Limping over back to the battle zone, Reno had a sudden— crazy— idea. Moving more on instinct than implicit understanding, Reno observed the battle. Gradually, he became privy to the conflict. It was almost turned based; looking at it now, he gleamed the essential functions— the moves, defensive and offensive, only came after so much energy has been accumulated. To the battlers, however, it appears that everything is in real-time. If there was more than one battler, Reno thought he could likely find more hidden attributes of the fight. As it stood now, though, he simply saw two combatants under the impression that they were free when outside forces dominated their most essential movements.

 
Sadness.

 
Then, Reno struck; at a moment’s notice, in the millisecond it took for Sora to dodge a blow, Reno dashed forward and punched with all his might the grotesque eye monster. Responding to some occult influence, the glove shined and then released itself into the creature exploding it in a shower of indistinct details before vanishing from the dungeon completely. Silence. It was like the beast had never existed.

 
Everyone stared at Reno. Everyone knew that something was wrong.

 

~

 

Once the monster was defeated, it didn’t take long for us to be thrust from the quest world. We woke up back in the ruined forest temple with the quest maiden nearby. She gave us her customary spiel about winning her favor and related how her mental fears had already clogged up; apparently, she would be sleeping well tonight.

 
For our troubles, we each received a handful of minor coins along with some decent experience. My teammates, however, were more interested in the glove I found. They crowded around me and each took turns scanning my item not stopping to care that I was still wearing it and not to be treated like a life-sized doll. Everyone except Sora.

 
Initially, they couldn’t understand why the item reacted as it did. That is until Airya posited that it must have some hidden offensive capabilities related to the healing factor; the monster was a Disease type creature so it must have had a super-effective combat multiplier; after Sora had weakened it so much, they figured my attack’s effectiveness finished it off. Issac didn’t look wholly convinced but he also looked tired and it wasn’t long before everyone forgot about the glove.

 
Walking back to the forest’s edge, Airya, being evidently the group leader, logged everyone off. Before I knew it, I was back in my Cloister.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s