“!……………………………!” [very faint sounds of manly shouts coming from somewhere]
“ What sound is this!” a female exclaimed while waking up from her sleep and rubbing her eyes. Moving out of her red-stripped sleeping bag, she began to stretch her arms and legs to get out of her sleep and started to look around under the starry sky which sparkled upon the green grass fields giving some visibility in the dark moonless night.
“Oye! Harry……Wake up!”
“Oye!” shaking his shoulder, Amber tried to wake up Harry but her efforts were useless as Harry was too deep asleep to be woken up by easily.
“Ken!” turning towards Ken’s sleeping bag, she called out for him but only to realize that he wasn’t there. She looked around but still couldn’t find any trace of Ken or either of that faint sound that seemed to be coming from a closer place.
“What should I do now!…..Harry isn’t waking up and Ken seems to be disappeared “ keeping her index finger on her chin and closing her eyes in a very childish manner, she began to think of a way to find out Ken first.
“ Idea!……. but I require something of …………..”
“ Searching around Ken’s blue and white sleeping bag, she found a piece of fallen hair on the inside of the cover.
“Now then! Let’s begin”
“ Navigator’s blaze” as Amber chanted the spell, a green colored flame lit up on her palm. Seeing the flame, she put the piece of hair to the green flames and instantly the hair burned to give a muddish-white paper scroll as the flame extinguished with a popping sound.
[tying her hair with a hair-band and picking up her jacket from her virtual closet<<storing space provided within the game for players to store personal things>>] “Let’s see…..where are you! My dear Ken Koshi” opening up the scroll, she observed a small dot at the center of the scroll with concentric circles drawn all around it. The central dot was actually the position of ken and the concentric circles depicted Amber’s distance with respect to ken.
Walking in a straight, she checked the scroll timely as with every 10-15 steps she took, the circles started disappearing one by one.
[with no circle on the map] “ where is he…………ummmmm……..!” looking around, she found a black shadow standing on the edge of a cliff, chanting something in a very strident voice. As she inched closer, she could clearly distinguish that the black shadow was actually the brown overcoat of ken, which appeared to be black under the moonless night.
<jumping on him from behind with her bosom touching Ken> “ Hey! Mr.Koshi………..what are doing here in the middle of the night”
“it’s you, Amber! I thought there was a player who attacked me!” catching hold of her and bringing her infront of him as she kept her hands on Ken’s neck.
Leaning forward towards Ken “ who would think about attacking this handsome hunk” in a very sensuous voice she asked Ken as she inched closer to him.
“Firstly, I am no handsome hunk………..and secondly I am the weakest of the lot that has come to participate in this game!” [removing her hands from his neck and commanding her to stand on her own through facial expressions]
“ You said that you are weak! Probably you are the bravest on all players that I have seen in this game so far.”
“ Yes! And this very brave man left all his hope and strength when he was cornered by a three-headed NPC” punching his fist in air with frustration as his mood expressions clearly showed how disappointed he was from himself.
“ You said that you are not skillful or not at par with other players. Look! At me Ken, anyone would falter in situations like those.
You count yourself among the weak but remember that anyone who would have faced that situation wouldn’t even survive for even a minute “
<<with a sad smile on his face>>“ You know Amber, since the time I step foot on this planet, I have been fighting all my life. First in my childhood, then my teenage and now in this world. But you know, between this whole struggle one thing remains constant………..my failure and how everytime I rise up to fail more miserably and bitterly.”
Looking at the night sky, Ken could relate that his whole life has been like this very sky dark, endless and meaningless. There were some sweet moments and happy memories but in the end, the sands upon which his life was engraved had always been black and meaningless.
The night breeze gushed through the open grasslands as the grass rustled along the flow of the breeze which came from the other side of the clip.
The breeze not only rustled through the grass but it also passed through Ken’s hair and overcoat as both the things complemented the flow, giving ken the backdrop of the tragic hero who has lost everything in life.
“!………………………………………!” as the chilly night breeze gushed past the skin of Amber, an instant chill rose in her body as she sneezed two times in a row……. indicating that she had already breached her limit and now the breeze has started to do a number on her.
As she started rubbing her palms along each other as suddenly an overcoat came from nowhere and covered her from shoulder to waist. It was Ken who removed his piece and covered amber with it from shoulders to the waist.
“ be careful with the weather you might catch a cold”
[walking back towards their base with Amber and Ken walking side by side ] “ You know Ken, every time I see you, it reminds me of how human could a person be. Time and again you have helped me out and I am sure you are the same with Harry and others also.
During the fight with the Cerberus, I was so astonished by your decision-making skills and your bravery that I almost started to wonder whether you are a player or a part of the game making company <with a big smile on her face>.
[the air rushed past her hair almost lifting them up as she pinned them towards the side of her ear giving the impression of a typical movie heroine] But you are an inspiration for me and will always remain the same as long as this game continues………..so don’t change yourself and always remain what you are [looking up at him with a glare in her eyes] “
“ Where were you guys! I so was worried about you both” breaking the mood, Harry interrupted them as amber snapped from her glare and looked towards the ground in embarrassment.
Looking at the situation Harry prompted, “ sorry to interrupt your quality time guys!”
“No! it’s fine……we were just discussing about some past events”
“Speaking of the past events, Ken did you notice that the time we entered the JUJUBA city, there were some NIX affinities near us but as soon as we made it deep into the city those affinities suddenly disappeared”
“But those were far too weak to harm us. But someone among those players had a much higher NIX affinity than any of us right now”
“ I don’t know why it was but something was wrong there.”
“You guys are probably over-thinking it! Those players might have been too weak to survive in the long run and probably sensing the NIX of two strong players they ran off.”
“Whatever might be the case but we have to be careful now as underestimating the black horses could be a big mistake”
“Harry is correct! The longer this game goes on………the tougher it becomes”
“If this game is going to become tough, then guys …….let’s help each other in raising our levels and let’s beat the strongest of players out there” uttering in an enthusiastic voice, Amber punched the air as both Ken and Harry agreed to this plan.
“Speaking of the level let’s compare our levels…………………………………….[gawking towards Ken with a devilish smile on his face] you, know Ken they say that you should keep your foes closer to yourself than your friends”
[Staring back at him with a dire-looking face] “ I know that you were always curious about my skills and levels…………………..but admitting such heavenly desires infront of everyone…..give me a break athlete”
“Haha!………i am not that dire but yes, if I have a chance…….why not dude!!”
“Let’s check all our levels at the same time!”
“That’s fine with me!”
The three of them simultaneously opened their player’s tab and clicked on the player info button.
“!…………!” with a pop sound, a purple menu opened up on the screen displaying the player’s details and the level.
“ my level is 55” Harry said in a very curious voice as he leaned towards Ken to peek into his screen.
“ so Ken…..your level is “ galloping his own saliva in amazement and catching hold of him he continued,
“Your level is 87”
“87!” Ak exclaimed as he jumped out of his chair.
“ 87! To achieve such an amazing feat in a very little time is really an amazing thing” said Marvin removing his blue and yellow striped tie from his neck.
“This lad is really one heck of a talent! “
“He is my son Marvin! How is it possible that he is not talented” taking a pun at what Marvin had just said, Ayako replied with a big smile on her face.
“He’s my son and this beautiful girl’s boyfriend” she continued and said as she patted Ellie’s head who was sitting right beside her in a wooden chair.
Getting acknowledged by Ayako as Ken’s girlfriend made her to completely blush out as in a very dulcet voice she replied “ it’s not like that, we haven’t decided on it completely”
“ Oh! Dear child, everyone knows that you and ken are very close to each other and there is no harm in declaring your relationship between your own people”
“It’s not like that Ayako-san! We don’t have anything between us right now!”
“Hello! Guys, we have a much bigger situation infront of us here…….like how is it even possible to have such a high level in so small span of time”
“ Speaking of the level, Marvin is it even possible to have such jumps in a game or is it a bug?” changing the mood, Ayako asked Marvin as he sat down on the beanbag which was lying just beside the master bed, infront of the monitor.
“Technically, speaking Ayako-san it’s possible to get such high levels in this particular game.
As far as I have learned by interacting with the gaming team, the player skills and the levels in this game works on a slightly different logic. In conventional multi-player games, the levels and skills increase slowly and timely after completing a pre-defined set of quests and tasks or overcoming a tough enemy or a situation.
But here the levels are decided on the development of your emotion in a situation. Basically, this game has an emotion-based concept attached to it. Here, a particular player is assigned a particular power/skills based on his/her emotions.
Following this lead, if a situation or an enemy force a player in such a condition where his/her emotion completely dominates her and that particular emotion drives that player, then in such cases your levels could increase.
Simply putting it down, if the NIXp of a player is anger or love and in a particular situation, this very NIX is overused or completely drives the player, then after such incidents the level of a player could shoot up.”
Pausing for a moment to drink a sip of water from the plastic bottle and then continuing,” but the question here is which NIXp does Ken have? Jumping so much in terms of player level doesn’t validate this logic completely. Like how is it possible for a player to have a particular type of emotion driving him in each and every situation that he faces?”
“ It has to be indignation because Ken always seems to be angry or unsatisfied with any situation that he faces” Ak prompted in between as he moved his chair close to Marvin.
“No, I think Ken’s NIXp is kindness! He is so kind and caring about everything and everyone around him! And hence it’s definitely kindness” boasting her chest out with pride, Ellie said as everyone in the room started laughing because of what she said.
“Look! At these lovey-dovey couples nowadays! They never get tired of complementing each other!” with a dire look on his face, Ak said as Ellie nods her head in embarrassment and looks away from everyone towards the white marble floor.
“ I suggest that his NIXp is confidence. As far as I have observed this game and Ken’s moments, he seemed to be very confident in whatever he does. From raising his sword to breaking a stone, whatever Ken does is always calculated and it definitely fetches him results, that too positive……. So I think confidence will definitely fit as his NIXp.
What do you think Ayako? You are the closest to Ken and you know his life inside-out…….so what emotion has been dominant for him in his life?”
“ Well! To be honest with you all, I haven’t been there for Ken in his childhood. I met him when he was 12 in a slum location near Kyoto, Japan”.