Both re-entered Vingaard. It felt empowering to tower over the Region Map once more. Reno felt godlike and his energy levels reflected as much. He felt like he could single handily take on everything that was next to come.
They quickly found the Territory for the next chapters. It was in the same Territory as chapter 1, just slightly off-kilter compared to the starting point previously. The following chapter’s icon appeared as a gray text underneath the slightly more colorized icon for chapter one, the color presumably, indicating its completion status. Sora touched the chapter 2 icon.
“The great Merlyn returns to King Uther; Uther, desperate to win the fair maiden Igrayine’s hand, assents to Merlyn’s demands; Merlyn, as agreed, gives unto King Uther a daring and deceptive plan.”
Sora waved his hand and so began chapter 2.
Like before, they were instantaneously de-sized. Whereas previously, they were larger than life titans, now they mere but mere mortals. Sad.
When they realized where they were, Reno and Sora were surprised to see that the game had more or less placed them right back where they had left off— immediately after the Corruption was cleansed and the game reset to the normal story. Both students were already on their horses on the way back to the castle when they realized that the game had resumed.
“My… I felt like the celestial spheres chimed out of tune. It was a very ill-feeling” Merlyn spoke, more to himself than anything else.
“I felt it as well,” replied Ulfius. “Young companion knights, did you feel it too?”
Reno was stupefied how he should answer. All he was prepared to do was interact with the game to the degree that he needed to in order to complete it for the class. If he was honest with himself, he wasn’t comfortable interacting with these AIs. It sort of felt like interacting with small children; everything you said was either unintentional, part of a script, or you didn’t expect them to understand, content, instead, to just reply with something generic as part of the mother-loving desire to get on with your day. Here, though, it was more acute because these… creations, weren’t even human but they were more human than, say, a robot. So, though it seemed natural to want to speak to them, Reno couldn’t help but feel that no matter what he did he was just blabbering about nonsense, the algorithms of the system powerful enough to produce responses to whatever generic thing he spoke.
Eventually, Sora leaned in on his horse and said, “Aigh, I felt it as well, senior knights. It was like a heavenly sphere had collided with an angel and its resultant cry shake all the holy in the world.”
I looked at Sora dumbfounded. He just gave me a weird look on his face and shrugged his shoulders as though saying, “hey, I tried my best.”
It worked, though, since both the senior knights heartily agreed. Upon their agreement, a warmth spread through Reno’s body. Instinctively, he looked at his tattoo. The colors had intensified; nothing else had changed, but the colors once faded, now appeared a deeper shade of their respective hues. Reno internally shrugged; must’ve been some sort of temporary status boost or maybe a moral system. He would have to look into it later.
Soon, the speed of the horses picked up. Merlyn, saying he needed to catch his breath, motioned for us to go ahead. Arriving back at the king’s pavilion, Merlyn came soon after, the king only a little irritated at his late arrival.
“’Syr,’ said Merlyn, ‘I knowe al your hert, every dele. So ye wil be sworn unto me, as ye be a true kynge enoynted, to fulfille my desyre, ye shal have your desyre’ (4)”
Then, in a Smokey frill as had originally appeared during their last outing during every time a line segment from Malory’s original appeared, the words “Thenne the kyng was sworne upon the four Evangelistes” rose with wisps from a fire.
Merlyn then spoke once more: “’This is my desyre: the first nyght that ye shal lye by Irgrayne ye shal gete a child on her; and whan that is borne, that is shal be delyverd to me for to nourisshe there as I wille have it— for it shal be your worship and the childis availle, as mykel as the child is worth’ (5). The king assented to this and Merlyn prepared him for his encounter with the fair Lady Igrayne.
Reno and Sora didn’t know what to do at this point. But the game, evidently, didn’t leave them many options; after a while consisting of some hushed speaking between King Uther and Merlyn, the pair turned to leave into a deeper part of the tent, to a room Reno and Sora only just noticed existed due to the pavilion’s many fabrics. As they left, Ulfius approached the students and motioned them closer.
“Young knights, we have a special mission. One which if completed will secure Uther’s final victory against his terrible foe.”