Eden of the Eclipse - Chapter 32
“Would you look at that? I didn’t burn it too badly,” Arthur gloated as the trio walked.
Lucy rolled her eyes. “The sheer nerve of you.”
The forest smelled of burnt wood and ash. She glanced around, they had been walking for only a few tens of seconds, and—though the stench still lingered—the flames were gone, and she could already see signs of plants sprinkling back up from the ground, trees regaining their vibrancy as if they hadn’t been made into husks, and fallen, charred, logs rotting into fine grains. If she wasn’t mistaken, in a few minutes, the forest would be back to normal. So, technically, Arthur wasn’t wrong. But, of course, she’d never tell him that or it’d simply stroke his ego even moreso.
“Interesting, the rate of plant growth in Eclipse is surprisingly fast. . .wouldn’t that affect the food and construction economy and the fauna? Hmm, though this growth speed could also be dependent on the strength of the means used to destroy the forest.” Shana muttered beside her, eyes swinging around, pondering and taking a mental note. Tackling away in her head at yet another bit of information in her next features and systems article sure to arise. “Alice, could you take some pictures for me and send them to my database?”
[Alice will do! Do you also want me to routinely take these pictures and short clips over the next few minutes, until the forest is back to normal, so you can have a timelapse?]
[Noted! Alice will also measure how fast it takes!]
Shana smiled. “You’re amazing.”
[Hehehehe] The small figure of Alice giggled, floating around Shana’s head in jubilation as the usually restrained girl praised her.
“. . .” Lucy, on the other hand, felt like she should comment on just how quickly her friend had become acquainted with the convenience of Alice.
“You know,” Arthur languished, lazily drawing his eyes towards the girl who became excited at the prospect of analyzing such a thing as the rate in which digital grass grew. “. . .you must really love collecting information huh?”
Shana eyed the boy. Then Lucy. She momentarily opened her lips, then closed them.
“. . .it’s my favorite thing in the world,” She said, quiet, and clear. “I’m my mind, everything used to appear like chaos on the surface. Unsystematic. Even new experiences used to scare me to the point that I found it hard to leave the comfort of my room. But collect data, analyze, experiment, and draw conclusions and you can place order into anything; especially the systems that make up a game. When everything clicks, and you get gritty with the details, the numbers, the calculations, the systems. . .there’s nothing more beautiful which puts my mind at ease.”
She nodded to herself.
“My family used to worry about me a lot, because explaining games was the only thing that could occupy me and that I found helpful in expressing myself,” She said, “I used to ignore everything else in life. Family. Friends. Academics.”
Lucy raised a brow. Was that the same girl who was now already attending college at her age?
“What changed then?” She asked.
“I started treating life itself as a game I could learn the rules of and play well,” Shana muttered. Now, she was blushing. Just slightly. A thin smile on her lips. “If it wasn’t for the desire to analyze games—and thus life itself as if it were a game—I’d still be that little autistic kid who couldn’t get a grasp of reality and couldn’t make friends no matter how much she tried.”
A lightbulb lit within Lucy’s mind as she realized, finally, why the girl had been so happy that she hadn’t chastised her for the bouts of experiments she had done while they had battled through ‘Goblin’s Outpost’. It finally made sense why she always seemed off in her own little world, aloof and withdrawn, until curiosity sparked her interest in a game mechanic or design. To Shana, perhaps, that was simply how her brain worked. How she enjoyed living.
“Well, count me in as a friend,” Lucy grinned. She jabbed a thumb at Arthur. “And, maybe, this knucklehead too.”
“Oi.” The boy frowned in displeasure. Still, he shrugged. “You like analyzing games to express yourself. I like playing games to entertain. And she likes playing em to overcome challenges with her own hard work. In the end, different as we may be, we’re not that different.”
Was this the same boy who had just shrugged off setting fire to a forest? She found she couldn’t make sense of him as easily as she could read Lucy. While Lucy was as clear of her emotions as a mirror, Arthur was a mystery to her. Sometimes, she admitted, he seemed outwardly stupid. Other times, she also admitted, it was clear he mostly just enjoyed goofing about.
“Maybe we aren’t but, for my case, I’ve usually found more kinship in the inhuman things. Objects that are clearly defined in their purpose. It’s perhaps why I envy artificial intelligences to a degree and find myself drawn to them,” Worm murmured, glancing and smiling briefly at Alice’s floating form, “To be one with data doesn’t sound too bad. In fact, it seems rather blissful. . .I wouldn’t mind uploading my consciousness into cyberspace if it were at all possible.”
[Alice likes you just as you are!]
“You know, I have to agree with her,” Lucy nodded. She patted Worm on the back. “I like being able to touch you, for one. And how am I supposed to snap you from getting slashed into two if you’re digital? Come on. That’s no fun.”
Shana didn’t reply. Lucy sighed. She groaned for a moment, trying to find the right words. Finally, as always, she simply spewed whatever it was her brain could scramble up.
“Look, I’m serious, okay? I’m not as good with words like you but. . .” She said, “I like you just as you are, got it? Different but real. Tangible. Alive. There’s nothing more you need to be, and nothing less someone should call you.”
“If you like analyzing things. It’s all good. Do you. So long as I get to slash things too.”
“And I get to burn things, right?”
“Of course! See? We’re all gonna work so well together!” Lucy grinned. “Mark my words, Shana, Eden’s gonna reach the top of this game!”
Caught in the swing of the conversation, Shana found herself smiling. Lucy looked as if she were boasting. Arthur walked beside her, nodding his head listlessly to her words like a robot. Still, she couldn’t help but feel relieved. Relieved at the thought that, even with Arthur’s addition to the party, she still had a place there.
“I’m glad,” She murmured quietly to herself. To her, it was like sinking into a shallow depth, and then being pulled back up.
The trio entered into a clearing at that moment, and. . .
“Where the heck are we?” Lucy frowned.
“No clue, I thought you were checking the map? You were just walking and walking and I kept following and following.”
“I, too, thought you were checking the map.”
“. . .ooookay wow, you two, I’ll stab you guys.”
The forest lost its vibrancy as Lucy stepped into mud, her feet sinking with every step with a loathful frown. What had once been a revitalization of life, from ash to greenery became a different type of decay entirely. Rot and the pungent smell of what she could only describe as waste. The shadows of the forest extended, a drape of large leaves overhead bloated out the sun, and scurrying critters moved in the far depths of her vision.
Lucy winded around a teetering tree, stepping over a muck of who-knows-what, and listening closely to the sound of grunts, yells, shrieks, and screams. The ground below them shook, sending bits of mud into the air and back down. She felt herself trudge through against the hold of the forest floor below them.
“Bloody realism,” She muttered, annoyed.
“It makes sense that mud should slow you down.” Arthur shrugged, though he too was all frowns. He took a quick gander at his starter boots in disgust. “Though it’d be better without all the realistic staining.”
Shana’s eyes, on the other hand, wandered about as she closed her Traveler’s Book. “I think this is a new biome. It’s far right of Acron’s forest.”
Intuitively, the trio continued onward, drawing closer and closer to the sound. They bloated out the croaking. And low roars. And the chirping of sharp-toothed birds eyeing them from above, feathers blended with the shadows of the new area. Continuing, they came upon the source of the fighting.
“Oh great,” Lucy murmured, stopping with a drag of her footing, “Just our luck. Actually, no, just your luck Arthur.”
They came upon a clearing, for lack of a better term. Strewn about with dilapidating trees, poking out of a muddy plot of wetness. Between those falling trees, the shaking of the ground, the spitting of mud, the shrieks and screams of small, armored, green creatures rang, they’re forms sploshing quickly about the terrain as swords slashed out and arrows whistled in the air; most falling deftly into mud with the creatures, and they slouched back up as quickly as they could. Hell, even a boulder of earth flung across the space, smashing through already falling trees.
Lucy squinted her eyes and recognized—decked out as they were—the sad, muddied forms as goblins. “. . .how many exactly are there?”
[Master. There are 30 of them.]
At that moment, a gigantic tongue lashed out and wrapped around a goblin. Up it went as its companions tried to free it and then it disappeared, swallowed whole by a large, green, mouth. A burp rang and a mist of green flung into the air, no doubt corrupting more of the land.
“. . .”
“. . .”
“. . .”
[Oooh it went slurp~] Alice clapped.
The trio finally saw it amidst the commotion: the goblins were battling a giant toad. A giant fucking toad. It towered over the creatures scrambling around it, tanking all of their attacks, most of their blades sliding along its slimy form.
“. . .wow, first time I’ve ever seen someone struggle to kill a toad,” Lucy murmured in wonder. “Giant or not, just that fact alone is kinda lame.”
Visit readlightnovel.me for extra chapters.
“I’ve seen it before, particularly in Konosuba,” Shana replied.
Luck raised a brow. “Never heard of that place before.”
“. . .it’s an old anime, a few decades old,” Arthur chimed in, rolling his eyes, “It was wildly popular in its time.”
“Indeed, though I read the light novel.”
“You ancient weebs.”
“Oh, it just ate another goblin—the devs are too cruel,” Arthur listlessly eyed the battle.
The three continued watching while moving to hide themselves from the sights of both the toad and the goblins. Honestly, however, the battlefield was too busy to care about them.
“Goblins, stand strong! It surely shall soon be at death’s door!” A rather striking, red-armored goblin bellowed. He was as tall as any human. His armor fitted his body like glue, showing off his toned form as his crimson hair bellowed in the wind. He even looked somewhat chiseled and handsome—for a goblin. Amidst the chaos, he drew his crimson sword high into the air. “Remember, we fight not for ourselves, but for our brothers and sisters and for our holy land!”
The goblins under his leadership bellowed out a battle cry—a red aura emanating from him and washing over the battlefield—and redoubled their efforts as he charged, jumping into the fray. A tongue lashed towards him and he dodged, leaping aside as the thing crushed against the mud where he once was.
“. . .is this a story scenario?” Shana wondered. “It would, perhaps, be more epic if it wasn’t a toad that they were fighting.”
“We should kill-steal that toad,” Lucy and Arthur immediately voiced.
“Come on, it’d be fun.”
“. . .have you two even checked their levels?”
Lucy tilted her head and squinted at the imposing goblin as he dodged yet another tongue-lashing.
[Goblin Prince — Ragnar the Crimson Knight — level 37]
Then at the toad.
[Guardian Toad — Frap the Frappy — level 63]
“. . .”
“Yeah, there’s no way we could get in-between them.,” She said, “We’d probably die from a stray arrow.”
Arthur nodded alongside her. “Yup yup, it’d be pretty damn dumb.”
“For sure.” She agreed.
“. . .”
“Anyway, we should kill-steal.”
“You know, I just so happen to agree.”
“D-did you two even listen to a word I said???”
Lucy and Arthur shared a dubious gaze then glanced back at the girl.
“Come on, it”ll be totally fun,” They said in unison, “I mean, what are games for if not for fun?”
Shana looked on expressionlessly, watching Lucy and Arthur nod to themselves in sagely agreement; as if they had rubbed two brain cells together to formulate a proper defense of kill-stealing. ‘. . .no wonder they’re best friends,’ She thought.
“Let’s go in,” Lucy grinned, “Quick adventure. In and out.”
Shana felt like she’d heard that saying somewhere before.
Wanna donate to me (or buy my stories) and help a struggling writer out with some motivated love? Kofi: https://ko-fi.com/lotschrono
Discord Server: https://discord.gg/vwKhVUR
Wanna help keep my motivation up? Vote
Want more interesting stories? Check out my profile.