“What happened with that player I saw? What was his name, Red Star Lightning? Is he okay?” Freya asked.
After more explanation and recapping of events, she finally asked the question she was most concerned about. When she last saw Red Star Lightning, he had asked if she’d seen a demoniclast murder anyone, right when a demoniclast was not too far away. She had given him a cryptic warning, but she didn’t know if he understood.
“Nightscythe said he made a post in the forums about demoniclasts in Corrin attacking players. But when did he post that? Do you think he’s still alive?”
“He’s been active since then,” Infamous Biscuit answered. “He’s been calling for the game makers to fix things, or at least look into them. One player died after all.”
“I doubt anything’s going to happen,” Heilong said, crossing her arms. “Governments have tried to get in contact with the people who made this game, but they’ve been unsuccessful. And there’s never been any patches to this game that have been announced. I doubt some crying in the game forums is going to get them to fix this problem.”
Freya scratched her head at this conversation. How would anyone ‘fix’ this issue? Wipe the memories of any person who knows about Player Cards?
Nightscythe cleared his throat, “I don’t think this is something that any kind of coding patch can fix. At this point, it’s more a diplomatic issue. Something needs to be worked out with the demoniclasts so we can all get along.”
The rogue had been unusually quiet throughout their conversation, but he spoke up now. Freya was slightly surprised by his stance. However, as she thought about it, he had always treated her world differently than most game players.
“I agree,” Scrimmancer said. “I don’t think it will be easy to convince them. But if something isn’t done, this could end up as a full-out war.”
Everyone flinched at that thought. Demoniclasts attacking players for their Player Cards. Earth players killing demoniclasts in retaliation or as a safety precaution.
“That’s one of the reasons I wanted to come here,” Freya said, closing her eyes. “Hopefully, I’m not too late.”
Freya’s eyelids were heavy as she walked back to Corrin. The rest of their meeting consisted of warning her to be careful and to contact them whenever possible. Infamous Biscuit promised to contact Red Star Lightning to ask him more about the murders. Heilong chided her for not telling her plan earlier; the marksman wanted to be in on the ‘demoniclast infiltration,’ as she called it.
I should have told them earlier, Freya thought as she sank into her bed. It felt like a large weight had been lifted off her chest, and now she could sleep easy. She had changed back to her ‘Frey’ identity to get her inn room. As a precaution, she slept in the clothes Yina made that gave her a bonus to her male identity. It would have been nice to have someone watching my back, but I would have felt bad for anyone going along with my plan.
The next day Freya got up late and ate a hearty meal at a popular restaurant next to the inn. Once the chef recognized her as the demoniclast trial participant that finished second, he gave her an extra-large portion. Freya appreciated the perk. She needed all the energy she could get. The next trial began at noon, but she probably won’t get called until later in the day. Still, she wanted to watch the participants.
I wonder what kind of demon we have to kill. Will it be the same for all the competitors? There are still fifty or so of us. That’s a lot of demons to collect. How do they keep them under control?
Unlike the first trial that started at the beach, the second trial was located in a different part of Corrin. Freya was worried she wouldn’t find it, but it turned out to be hard to miss. Not only were their crowds of people streaming to the trial site, but the locale was unlike anything she had ever seen.
Gigantic black and red canvas sheets shaded a colossal wooden structure. Once she entered, she found herself in an enormous, crater-like building. In the center, four rings made of iron and wooden talismans commanded the floor. Terraced seating rose from the center, allowing a view of all four rings.
The number of seats seemed enough for the whole city of Corrin. Not all the seats were filled yet, but Freya already thought she had never seen so many people in her life.
“All day passes are four silvers.”
Freya stopped gawking and turned to the voice. A tired-looking boy held a stack of tickets in one hand.
“I’m a trial participant. Do I still have to pay?” Freya asked, digging out her shell identification and showing the boy. Four silvers is kind of a lot, but I guess that’s how they can maintain this giant space.
The boy squinted at her shell, “No, you don’t have to pay. Competitors sit over there.”
He pointed vaguely to the other side of the arena. Following his directions, Freya walked around the edge of the center ring. Powerful talismans were embedded into the iron fence that separated the crowd from the middle circle. Each of the inner rings had a trap door in the middle of them. Looking down at her feet, she noticed she was not standing on dirt.
Are they keeping the demons under the building? This must be a specially designed setup.
The large venue and safety measures calmed her heart. This wasn’t something build overnight. The demoniclast had hosted trials like this before. She didn’t have to worry about something going wrong. All she had to do was fight.
Her heart sped up at the thought. Rubbing her hands together, a tingling sensation spread through her body. Freya smiled.
I’m ready for a good fight.
Important Announcement: Pieces of Sonder will be on hiatus until Friday, September 3rd.
I apologize for stopping in the middle of this arc, but I promise this story will return. I have some travel plans at the end of August and overall I think I need a short break to relax and recharge. During the hiatus, there may be some updates to previously published chapters as I go back to edit. I’ll still be working on this story, just not releasing chapters during August.
Thank you for all your support! I’ll see you in September!