Book 1.5: Side Tales – Koko: The Puppet Asylum (part 1)
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Eh! Where Did My Pen... Pen... Go!?!

Book 1.5: Amaranthe Guild – Side Stories

Koko's Tale

The Puppet Asylum (Part 1)

{Warning: Koko's side story is not the usual cute and fluffy story you're used too from my Abrynth Side Tales. Her journey is one which first goes through the pain of her abusive past before moving shackle free to a much, much better, and far happier future of 'A New World, A New Life.' And with that... her side tale begins...}

It's okay Koko... just stay calm and dress quickly. A young soprano voice said in her head.

Yes, yes! Just ignore the fact that we're in this dressing room with all these strangers... alone. Remember, mother is right outside the door waiting to send us off... Another young female voice added.

To send us off into a magical wonderland of a new world, a new life... Yay! A chorus of child-like voices chattered excitedly.

Voices from friends only she could hear and see.

Friends that had emerged one day, long ago from within her second-hand dolls, puppets, and plushies during her bedroom tea party; Saving her from loneliness since her loving mother worked hard to support the family while her alcoholic father blamed her birth for shattering his dreams of being a professional football player leading to neglect (which was far better than the times he did notice her existence).

I-it's fine... I think. These girls all seem to be... nice. And I sort of know those two from school. Koko 'mindspoke' to her friends, glancing at Rori and Sadie who were near her getting ready but at a slower pace since they were busy, excitedly chatting with one another.

So let's give them a chance to prove who they are. Nodding to herself in agreement, the voices became quiet, and Koko finished changing into her bio-suit. She then put her meager belongings away inside her assigned dressing locker.

She closed the red locker's door with a soft 'psht' and turned to head for the dressing room's door when Rori and Sadie, having heard the soft 'psht', turned to see Koko about to leave.

The two half-dressed girls called out to her, “Wow, Koko you got dressed fast!” They smiled as they approached her.

Koko struggled internally for a moment before stopping with a soft sigh to wait for them; All the while glancing between Rori, Sadie, and the door leading to her wonderland.

“Do you mind giving us a minute?” Rori asked with a hopeful look on her face as she and Sadie stepped within arm's reach of Koko causing her to shuffle back a step, reflexively.

Noticing that being too close was making Koko uncomfortable, the duo stopped moving forward before Rori spoke, “I just wanted to let you know that I'm really glad you're joining us.”

“Yes, very much so. The more, the merrier! Right, Rori...” Sadie added, her mouth upturned and eyes warm.

“Yes, that's right Sadie,” Rori nodded. “Especially if this new virtual world is going to be as big and as filled with dangerous adventure as I believe it will be. We're definitely going to want good people by our sides to share and aid us through those adventures; To have each other's backs when the time for action calls.”

“Definitely! Going solo may be fun from time to time but it's also a recipe for making everything 'hard mode' when it should be 'fun mode'. After all, I have no doubt there's going to be plenty of situations and places where a solo player can't survive or pass.”

“I think so too Sadie. Solo play will definitely place limits on where a person can go in this new world, on the quests they can accept, on being able to safely trade goods and materials with others, and so much more... don't you think so too Koko?” Rori asked, focusing in on her response.

Thinking about it now... what their saying does make sense. There are no doubt going to be many things that solo players won't be able to do... Koko said inwardly.

And there will be many places that'll be too dangerous to cross alone. The soprano voice pointed out. And trading with people you know is definitely better than doing so with strangers...

Especially for you Koko. All the voices chorused.

Hmm... I think you're all right. I'd really be limiting myself if I try to do this all alone. Koko reasoned. And these two, I've seen them often enough at the school library. They're not like most of the others at school who look down on me and bully me.

True! These two always gave us warm greetings. Another voice added.

And they do seem to be good people that don't look to start... troubles... so “Yes.” Koko said softly with a nod. “Going solo would be... limiting.”

Judging by the big smiles on their faces, Rori and Sadie were obviously happy with her answer. “Yes, it would be! A solo player would definitely miss out on seeing all there is to see. And since that's the case why don't the three of us form a group?”

“Yes, an all-girls musketeer trio... All for one and one for all!” Sadie cheerily added.

“I mean, I know we're all going to be in the same guild together but it's good to form bonds, build teamwork skills, and most importantly share in the fun togeth...”

“Okay,” Koko said, answering with a hint of a smile on her face before Rori could finish her recruitment speech. Having accepted their offer, Koko's eyes once again darted towards the door leading to the new world that was awaiting.

Rori full-stopped her recruitment speech, smiled, and switched to her getting started speech, “That's great! We can form our trio once we're all in the starter town together. We'll put our heads together and come up with a plan of what to do since there's going to be a lot of options to choose from.

And we still need to get into our bio-suits as you have.

As for them,” Rori glanced towards her big sister Cara and Irene who were also doing more chatting than changing. “I'm sure my sister, Irene, and my brother will be doing the same by forming their own teams.”

“I believe they will too,” Sadie agreed.

“Well then Sadie, we better stop standing around here. Let's finish getting dressed and put our stuff away inside our lockers, before...” Grinning, Rori turned to face Koko and continued with a wink, “before our fellow musketeer here gets an even bigger head start over us.”

Rori thought for a short moment, then stepped in to give Koko a quick friendly good-bye hug like she always shared with Sadie...

But Koko stepped back, looking down while turning for the door. “I-I'll be going now. See you both i-in Abrynth.” And with that, Koko hurried and opened the door to exit the dressing room, closing it shut behind her as Rori muttered, “Too soon?”

To which Sadie nodded, “Yup, too soon... But still, now we'll have plenty of time to become good friends so it's definitely a good start.”

“Right you are! This is going to be such fun... let's hurry and get dressed.” The duo headed back to their full-sized lockers and began to dress at a faster pace.

Meanwhile, Koko stood near the game bio-pods whispering excitedly with her mother whose smile was as big as the sun because it was the first time she'd ever seen her daughter so happy.

The beautiful blond woman, who was 'cosplaying' as an elf, that had escorted their group up from the lobby to show them to their suite, approached the mother-daughter pair with graceful movements.

She held a silver tray in her hands and a warm welcoming smile on her lips. “Are you ready to begin your journey of A New World, A New Life?” Claryndel asked, holding the silver tray before Koko.

“Yes... I'm ready." Very, very much so. Koko and her voices answered, nodding her head as her eyes traveled to what lay atop the silver tray before her; A granola fruit bar (well, at least it looked like one to her), a small glass filled with a cold silvery-blue liquid, and a small closed rectangular box.

“Well then, since that's the case, let's get you fueled up with these special and quite tasty snacks first. After all, one can't travel to Abrynth from here without the right energy in their body.” Claryndel lowered the tray and gestured with her eyes and head for Koko to go ahead and help herself... which she did.

Mmm, she's not lying, these are delicious...

Aw, no fair! We can't taste them. The voices whined.

With snacks having been consumed, her stomach happy, and body thrumming with an energy unlike anything she ever felt before, Koko eyed the last item on the silver tray.

“Within that small box, you'll find our magical liquid contact lenses needed for first-timers. In order to place the lenses into your eyes simply touch one of them with the tip of your finger and it will cling to you like a drop of water.

Then tilt your head back and touch the corner of your eye with that drop. The liquid lens will do the rest.” Claryndel smiled, watching as Koko slowly reached out to take and open the small box.

Koko's eyes furrowed and her lips pursed as she studied the pair of golden liquid lenses lying within the small open box.

Shifting about from foot to foot, Koko sighed, then reached for one of the lenses; Her finger touched the cool wet surface of the right lens. Oh, the lens really does feel like its clinging onto my fingertip like a water drop. Sweet.

Lifting her finger slowly to her right eye, Koko tilted her head back as the voices within uttered words of encouragement; She held her breath and touched the corner of her eye with the golden drop.

The drop slithered off her fingertip and entered her eye, forming a thin cool tingling layer around her eyeball as her vision through that eye became clearer and more focused.

“Amazing... how in the world did they make these?” Koko muttered to herself as she reached out to the second lense.

“Simple, we made them with magic,” Claryndel sang out with a bit of laughter in her voice and a wink of her eye.

With lenses like these... I think I believe her. Koko thought, smiling as she easily put the second contact into her left eye, then closed the small box to place it back on the silver tray.

“Good Job Koko. You did that quite well,” Claryndel said, holding the tray to her side and giving Koko a gentle pat on her head. “Well then, you're set and ready to go. Just step into your transmigration pod and close the door when you're ready to leave this world for a brand new magical one.”

Transmigration pod? One of the voices asked.

Koko rolled her eyes, holding in her snort. I wish... but this is just a VR game bio-pod. And she's not a real magic elf, but a very dedicated and beautiful cosplaying employee whose face is getting closer and closer... gulp.

Claryndel leaned down, her face very near Koko's ear, she whispered, “And remember, in order to begin your journey to a better new life one must break free of the strings keeping them bound to the old one.”

She then gave Koko a soft kiss on the side of her head and stepped away to prepare the silver tray for the next girl to step out of the dressing room.

Her mother swept in to give her girl a deep hug, “Looks like it's time baby girl. Remember, I love you where ever you go and will miss you lots... But I want you to have a great time there!

So don't worry about me okay. I won't be alone.

After all, I have Miss Addelton and all your wonderful dolls, puppets, and plushy friends to look after me and keep me company... Plus Mrs. Mitchell here!

So be sure to enjoy your time in this new magical world and make loads of great memories! I can't wait to hear all about them.

Promise me you'll have fun and make friends.”

“I-I promise mom. I'll bring back lots of great stories to share with you and Grandma Addelton during our tea parties.

And I-I'm already making new friends with the girls in the dressing room so you don't have to worry... I won't be there alone. We'll all be in a guild together.

I love you very much and... and I'll call you whenever I'm logged out of the game to keep in touch...”

The two spoke a few more words before Koko's mother finally helped her into her game bio-pod, gave her cheek kisses, and waved goodbye as the pod's door gently closed with a soft psht, embracing her in darkness.

Her heart fluttered and thoughts swirled in anticipation of what's to come as she closed her eyes. I wonder what new life I'll get to have... A new life to set me free of my fears... of the nightmares.

The soft sounds of tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock began to echo in the dark; The time slowly crawling leaving Koko to wonder: Is my game pod... defective? What do you all... thiiinnnk? She asked her friends inwardly, her eyelids growing heavy, and a yawn escaping her lips.

For the first time in ages, her friends did not respond.

Instead, a half dozen or so bluish-white orbs with ghostly faces appeared from the darkness to circle round her body causing goosebumps to appear on her flesh; They were silent as they hovered over her head, waiting...

Koko, blurry-eyed and muddle-headed, looked at the orbs with half-closed eyes. “Huh? Is that you... guy-ses? What are you doing... outside. Come iiiinnn...” Koko half-ordered, half-yawned.

Ghostly strands flew out of Koko's yawning mouth, quickly wrapping around the ghostly orbs and pulled them into her closing mouth. Her mouth chilled, then her mind tingled as the sound of an iron gate opening and closing echoed softly in her head before fading away.

All then became silent, except for the rhythmic echoing sound of the unseen clock lulling her to slee...

… … …

In a now gated section in a sleeping Koko's mind, a celebration was taking place as a group of voices happily merged together with ghostly orbs becoming something new... … …

… …


“AAIIEE!” Koko jolted straight up in bed, heart thumping hard in her chest as her wide-open eyes searched her surroundings.

“Where am... I?” She looked and looked again; Head tilting, mind fuzzy, and brows furrowed, “Huh, isn't this my... bedroom? It can't be... can it? Just how did I end up here? No way... don't tell me it was all just a dream.

That I never got into the game.

Please no... don't be a... a dream.” Her voice faded to a whisper as her eyes became watery and heart became heavy...

Wait a minute... somethings off...

Why do I feel like I... I lost some things important to me?

And what's up with those posters on my wall? They aren't supposed to be there anymore. And these books beside me on my bed... my favorite books, Pinnochio and Alice in Wonderland.

But mom threw Pinnochio away over a year ago because it got covered in... in blood that night. That ma-monster's blood so what is it doing lying beside me on my bed?

“What's happening? Am I going crazy?” Koko muttered, her eyes looking down at her books, one of which was opened up onto the page illustrating little Alice chasing after the white rabbit towards the rabbit hole... one of her favorite scenes of the story.


Her locked door shuttered as a drunken man yelled, “Where's my dinner you worthless ***! Why isn't it on the table ready for me and why is this *** door locked!?!”

“No no no no no... this can't be happening, can't be real... he's in jail... that monster is broken and in jail...” Koko trembled, her heart beating fast and hard, and her wide eyes 'glued' to the door.


“Hurry up and open this *** door before I break it open and make you regret it! I don't work hard all day just so you can sleep and play in your *** bedroom like a little unwanted ****.”

I-I got to run... hide... but where? Her eyes jolted across her room, searching as she did her best to tune that manster's raging voice out, “There... the closet!”

Koko kicked the bedsheets off her legs and scrambled off the bed, sending her books to the ground with a pair of thumps.

Seeing the door rattling more and more with each fist pound it took from that beast, she pitter-pattered across the room, reaching the closet just as the sound of the bedroom door cracking open resounded in the air.


Her bedroom door burst open just as the closet door shut, trapping Koko in darkness.

Turning, Koko locked the door, and quickly scurried to the back of the closet, sitting down on the hardwood floor in the dark. Her shoulder's hunched and arms wrapped tightly around her bent knees, trying to make herself as small as possible.

Breathing a bit rough and heavy, she tried to calm down for fear of being heard as the beast's footsteps thumped into her bedroom, sounding closer and closer.

“You think I'm stupid like you!?! That I can't find you? If you're not under the bed then where else could you be?” The beast spoke sarcastically.

The closet's doorknob rattled and the door shook as a yelp escaped Koko's small quivering lips. “Ha, ha Found You! Now open up so I can make you wish you were never born like I do...”

No nono no... I got to get away, get out of here! Her mind screamed as she frantically scurried backward while still in her sitting position, tears streaming down her cheeks; Her hands and feet pushing and slipping against the ground sending her back, back, back as the bottom of the clothes hanging from above brushed against her small trembling body like soft fingers trying to grasp and hold her for the... the fearsome beast on the other side of the door.

A cool breeze of wind caused her back to shiver.

Huh? A cool breeze of... wind? H-how? Koko's panicked mind asked as the ground beneath her hands and feet softened and... inclined.

Scurrying faster than before, back first, towards the breeze she soon found that the air had become perfumed with a musty wood scent and the soft clothes that were brushing against her body had become a bit stiff but smooth.

And there was some kind of dim light streaming down from above. Her eyes shifted about her shadowy surroundings as her frantic hands and feet continued to propel her back faster and faster; Until her hands stretched down seeking the ground but found air as her feet pushed her body back launching her up into the air...

“Ooof!” Koko cried out as she fell back first onto the ground; Gasping for air, she laid on the ground surrounded by... leafy shrubs?

Breathing slowly, Koko calmed herself and rose up off the ground to stand unsteadily. She looked around, eyes wide and mouth agape; She was in the middle of a ring of tall shrubs and towering trees.

This... this is a forest, isn't it?

But how? How in the world did I get here from inside my closet?

She looked down at the dirt ground for answers, quickly spotting a large child-sized hole. That must be it, where I exited from.

The scent of the damp forest was even stronger out here than inside the tunnel. “Isn't this like Alice in Wonderland? No, nevermind. Can't be since she went down a rabbit hole and I went up.

Still, this is amazing.”

Oh, so if I'm here, then this must mean that either I fell asleep in my game pod and this is all just a dream or nightmare...

Or I'm already in the game making all of this... the tutorial?

If so, then not only am I not happy about them putting me through that horrible nightmare again but... very confused. Just how in the frell did they even know about that... that man and that night.

I-it's scary... like they got into my head, my memories. Can they do that? What do you all think abou...

Hold on... you all? Who the frell is 'you all' that I'm talkin...

“Don't think just because you went outside that I can't find you ***! Stay right there and wait for me to come get you. I'm going to lock your *** up in a place I never wish to be in again... the 'Silent Screams' room!”

The beast's voice raged, echoing up into the night air out of the 'rabbit hole' as shadowy winged beasts startled; A cacophony of caws and high pitched shrieks cried out as the treetops rustled and a flock of wings flapped.

“Wait here? Never! No way am I being locked in such a scary sounding room...” Koko fled from the hole, her long messy hair fluttering behind her... a bit heavier than usual as if something was laying atop of her head, bouncing up and down, hitting her back with each quick light barefooted step she took on the cool dampening ground.

The air getting colder and colder as dusk became night.

The trees and brush are thinning. It looks like there's a clearing up ahead... I think. Koko pushed harder, faster; The running keeping the growing cold at bay.

Huffing and puffing, heart beating fast within her chest, she arrived at the forest's edge.

Got to hide... and catch my breath. Her dark eyes searched, quickly finding what she was looking for.

Koko scurried into a large leafy bush, becoming hidden from sight.

She stood slightly bent over with one hand on her side and the other pressed up against the smooth wide trunk of the tall tree beside her, slowly breathing in and out. She looked out between the gaps of the branches of the bush, spying a large clearing before her.

“Is that some sort of old gothic... hospital?”

It was hard to tell due to the darkness of night and the distance between them.


The sound of a branch breaking caused her to startle and spin around to look, the bush rustling with her movements, giving away her location.

Heart jackhammering in her chest, she stared into the dark forest, taking note of the fog that was starting to roll in; And the shadows wending behind the trees in the much too close distance causing her to wonder if they belonged to that fathe... no, not that... but monster like some sort of bad horror movie.

The type of bad horror movie in which no matter how fast the victim runs, the monster is always close behind... walking.

Not wanting to find out who those shadows belonged too...

Koko burst out of the bush, jumping free of the forest to run as fast as she could across the unkempt field; Her footfalls cushioned by the wild grasses that felt cool against the soles of her feet as she rushed towards the tall red doors of the large white building, the paint discolored and faded with time and neglect.

A glint of light caused her to glance to her side where she noticed a black iron fence reaching as high as a person's waist... enclosing an area that had sculpted stones, dark and round, jutting up out of the long uncared for ground.

Who puts a cemetery by a hospital? Doesn't that send the wrong message! She found herself slowing down, rethinking her plan of going inside the large gothic building that was now obviously much, much older than it looked to be from the edge of the forest.

An angry shout echoed out from the forest behind her, startling more winged creatures to fly up into the night sky from their treetop perches.

No choice! I got to get away and hide.

Koko made it to the tall heavy looking doors, reached up with both hands, and grabbed the long black iron door handles to click and push.

The doors opened with a decrepit high pitched screech sending chills up and down her small body. Ignoring the ominous warning, Koko hopped inside, turned around, and...


Slammed the doors shut tight. Her hands then fumbled with the door handles, “Really? There are no locks on these doors...” WHY!?!

She paused to look at the long handles, thought for a few breathes, then searched the sides of the doors for something to stick through the door handles to keep the doors from opening.

The right side of the doors was empty but the left side held promise as she found a round container holding a trio of long dusty umbrellas.

She quickly stepped up to the container, picked up all three umbrellas, and gave them each a quick look over before sliding two of them between the door's black iron handles.

She then gave the doors a tug and released a deep breath when she found that they wouldn't open.

As for the third umbrella, a gothic victorian black with a pointed tip, she held onto it since she had no weapon and was now trapped in a huge unknown building with a beast out in the woods waiting for her.

Koko took a deep breath, exhaled, and muttered to herself, “Out of the frying pan and into the...”

Turning, her eyes scanned the large dimly lit lobby. A layer of dust hanging in the air making the place look old and forgotten. Up above the large wooden welcoming desk hung a sign... Welcome to the Puppet Asylum.

Excited about entering the game and wary around people, Koko is the first dressed and out of the dressing room... well, the first of the girls that is, since a certain boy already beat her into the game. And like Micheal, where she started out wasn't anything like she expected, nor would have chosen. Now she finds herself having escaped one danger... only to be trapped into entering a new one wherein the upcoming part 2 she takes her first real steps in the Puppet Asylum.

Note: And with this, we start Book 1.5: Amaranthe Guild Girls Side Tales. I had thought I was going to have Rori's story be the first of the new book of short stories but Koko's tale kept finding its way into my thoughts so I decided to just write what I saw in my head to open the way for the other girl's stories that follow.

Koko's journey will be the darkest of all the girls... I think. But that journey will lead to her becoming who she becomes by the end of her starter area.


Revised on 9-11-2020