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Joanne

[F01-PP] <<The First Few Lessons Are Free>> Trying this Again

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She felt an ache in her chest as he pulled away to pick up the mushroom. Then he said, "I don't know what it is about being around you. But you drive me crazy." Her heart skipped a beat. She wondered what to say. Just say how you feel, she coached herself. After a brief moment of silence, she spoke. "I feel the same. I've never felt like this about anyone, Dederick," she said, stepping towards him, her body moving on its own. She took his hand in her own, her heart racing so fast she thought it would leap out of her chest at any moment. "I apologize if this is too forward, but you're quite handsome." She reached out her other hand, stroking his cheek gently. What am I doing?! she screamed in her head. She couldn't believe what she was doing, but it was as if her body was moving by itself, not obeying the will of its master. "I enjoy spending time with you..." she said, moving in even closer. 

Suddenly another flower hanging down from a branch on the tree above them caught her eye. She mentally cleared her mind. What was she just about to do before the material caught her eye? She had no clue, but she knew it would have been hard to stop whatever she had been about to do. She reached up and grabbed the flower, shaking the branch lightly, causing light pink petals to fall down around her, creating an aura of light petals around her for just a moment. 

@Dederick

Spoiler

searching for T1 materials
Roll ID#: 129414
LD: 11 found item!

4/5 materials found. 

Edited by Joanne

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He felt like he was about to melt into a puddle.

After all the years of being taunted, hated on, not being wanted, being thought of in the wrong light. He'd felt like he was being haunted by demons. He'd try to leave them behind, but it was like swimming through epoxy. He'd try to keep his head above it, but recently the waves were choppier than ever. Even though he had recently decided to venture beyond the walls of the Town of Beginnings, he didn't know why he had. He simply drifted from combat to combat, testing his mettle and wits against mobs that didn't know any better than to hit themselves to death.

And here this woman had entered his life, out of the blue. And the river of sludge was calming. And he felt as though he could breathe for the first time in his life.

He tucked away the mushroom he had plucked before standing - a twin to the other. Despite her having distracted herself with something in the tree, her hand still held his. And rather than feel embarrassed, he was relieved. Now he never wanted to let go.

"What are your plans in this game, Joanne?"
 

Spoiler

ID: 129416
LD: 19
3/5 Materials found

 

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"What are your plans in this game, Joanne?"

Joanne was a bit surprised by the question. It was the last thing she had expected him to ask. She thought for a second, her brow becoming lightly furrowed. "Well, ultimately I want to help protect others and help us all get out of the game alive." She realized that she was still holding his hand, and she gave it a squeeze as she spoke. "I lived to help others in the real world, and I'll do it again in this world, even if it costs me my life along the way." Her expression was sad, but accepting. She hated to bring the mood down, but it was true. She was prepared to die so that others could live and break them out of this world. In war, many men died, but one army eventually won. She just hoped it was the army of players that eventually won. She then noticed a peculiar leaf had fallen onto his armor. She plucked it off gently, the mark on the quest on her display flashed "Completed: Collect 5 Materials. Return to Zacharaiah". 

She then looked back at Dederick, looking deeply into his eyes. "What about you, Dederick? What is your main goal?" 

@Dederick

Spoiler

searching for T1 material
Roll ID#: 129432
LD: 17 success

5/5 materials found! 

next goal: return to zachariah. 

Edited by Joanne

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"What about you, Dederick? What is your main goal?"

"Truth be told, I wouldn't have had any idea how to answer that question. Before now, anyways," he admitted, looking back into her eyes. "Looks like I'm here to make sure you don't die," he told her very matter-of-factly. "Losing a life like yours is unacceptable. Losing you is unacceptable. I won't have it." He gave her hand a squeeze.

As though to break the tension, a butterfly descended between them, landing on Dederick's shoulder. When he extended his finger for it to climb onto, it immediately turned into item data. Another material, it seemed. One more and he would be caught up.

"Though, I doubt either of us can do much protecting until we get stronger. Which means we'll need to be spending a lot of time together to get there. A shame, isn't it?" A smile played across his lips as he concluded the thought, a very knowing look cast Joanne's way.
 

Spoiler

ID: 129436
LD: 11
4/5 Materials found

 

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"Losing you is unacceptable. I won't have it," he said while squeezing her head. She stroked his cheek once more with her other hand. "And I promise you that I won't let anything happen to you either. As long as I'm alive, I'll stand by you as your shield." 

Then the bright blue wings of a butterfly caught her attention. She hand't one quite like it on the first floor beforeHow odd, she thought as she saw it become a material item. 

"Which means we'll need to be spending a lot of time together to get there. A shame, isn't it?"

His words and the look he gave her after saying them brought the blush back to Joanne's cheeks. She returned the smile, saying, "I'll make it my new goal to become strong enough to stand by you as well without being a burden. And yes, it is such a shame." She winked playfully at him. 

@Dederick

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"Joanne..." he started, lacing his fingers with hers and taking up her other hand and doing the same, "You will never be a burden to me. Ever." The expression he wore while saying this was absolutely serious, but the tenderness of his fingers idly massaging the backs of her hands belied this. "I don't know the way of the knight, but I know they value honor, loyalty, duty, and respect. All of these, I offer to you. It is upon my own accord that I do this. You never need to worry about whether or not I want to."

It was strange how quickly he found himself attached to her. Probably because nobody in his past had shown such interest, he wagered. It wasn't that he didn't truly feel for her and respect her, because he did. But the fact that she didn't go running for the hills immediately as so many others had... It made him feel like he needed to keep her in his life for as long as possible.
 

Spoiler

ID: 129460
LD: 7
Material search failed.

 

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 "I don't know the way of the knight, but I know they value honor, loyalty, duty, and respect. All of these, I offer to you. It is upon my own accord that I do this. You never need to worry about whether or not I want to."

Joanne became overwhelmed with emotions and actually let them show for once in her life. To hide her sudden tears of happiness, she released Dederick's hands and gave him a warm, long hug, resting her chin on his shoulder softly. "Thank you, Dederick. Your words mean so much to me." She pulled away and held his hands once more. Her eyes were watering with tears. "I've never felt this way about someone else before... But I find myself wanting to give my all to you." She reached up with her hand and grabbed a handkerchief from her inventory, dabbing her eyes with it. She laughed lightly. "I'm sorry that I'm getting so emotional. This doesn't happen too often." 

She took a moment to look deeply into his eyes, her smile growing bigger. 

@Dederick

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When she embraced him, his hands naturally gravitated toward her waist and wrapped around her. There was no nervousness now, only peace and calm. "I've never felt this way about someone else before... But I find myself wanting to give my all to you," she said as she pulled away and grabbed his hands once more. There were tears in her eyes, and Dederick didn't understand. He had only ever seen someone cry when they were sad or desperate. No, that wasn't true. He had caught his mentor crying once while praying. He had assumed that his mentor was simply emotional during a confession, but perhaps he had been so awestruck by the grace of God that he was moved to tears. Was something similar happening here?

"I'm sorry that I'm getting so emotional. This doesn't happen too often." 

He only smiled warmly in response. "You have no reason to apologize. It makes me happy to see you happy. I'd hope you never hold anything back around me."

Spoiler

ID: 129550
LD: 10
Material search failed.

 

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"You have no reason to apologize. It makes me happy to see you happy. I'd hope you never hold anything back around me," he said to her. She wasn't crying anymore, but a great smile still warmed her face. "I won't hold anything back from you, Dederick. I promise," she said while squeezing his hands gently in her own. "And I hope you don't hold anything back from me either. I'll always be here for you." 

Her heart was light in her chest, a calm coming over her. She felt at peace and she felt safe with Dederick. "Hey, Dederick, is there anything you'd like to know about me? You may ask me anything you'd like." She was opening herself up to him. This is the first time she had let someone into her life like this, but she knew she could trust him. Besides, there weren't too many things that she had to hide anyways. She hadn't lived that much of a risque life. 

@Dederick

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He thought about it for a moment when she offered to tell him anything he wanted to know. What was there to ask her, really? She had already told him a bit about her upbringing. She already revealed to him that she had never been with a man before, or even felt the way about anyone that she felt about him even after so little time together. So what else could he really ask?

He had time to think about it as his hands slipped from hers and he collected a golden leaf that was fluttering through the air. The entirety of the expanse was lush and green, so the amber colored leaf seemed out of place. As soon as he plucked it from the air, it translated into item data and a panel populated in front of him.
 

Quote

Completed: Collect 5 Materials. Return to Zacharaiah.


"What's your favorite food?" he finally inquired as he looked at her again. The day was still young and they probably had time to go mob slaying, but Dederick hadn't yet put his armor back on. And frankly, he didn't want to. He was enjoying how casual they could be around each other.
 

Spoiler

ID: 129554
LD: 13
5/5 Materials found.

 

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"What's your favorite food?" he had asked. She had to think for a moment as she had so many meals to choose from. Back home, her mother had shelves of cook books that she would use when making home made meals for the family. Finally, she answered. "I believe home made beef stew is my favorite food. My mum always made it with french bread and home made butter." She sighed happily as she thought back to her childhood. When she had a rough day at school or when her younger brother had gotten roughed up, her mum would always make them feel better with the warm, savory beef stew she made. She looked down at Dederick once more and asked, "What about you? Do you have any other favorite foods besides Oscar's 'meat cylinders'?" She giggled at the name he had called the hot dogs. Maybe they could go out and get lunch or dinner together after this quest. 

@Dederick

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"Buttermilk pie," he responded very matter-of-factly. "It's easily the best thing to ever grace my palette. But I'm a big fan of beef stew, as well."

He looked around, not seeing anything else within their immediate area that looked like a good candidate for a material. Not that they needed anymore, anyways.

"I think we got what we came for. Would you like to head back to Zachariah and get this quest wrapped up, then?"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[Location: Town of Beginnings - Zachariah's Lab]
[Time: 13:02]
[Weather: Sunny, Partly Cloudy]
[Party: Dederick, Joanne]

"We're back," Dederick announced proudly as the pair strode through the door and into Zachariah's filthy lab. The old man's eyes lit up as he saw them, and his scripted dialogue began. Dederick wasn't listening, of course. He had already seated himself at the brewing station and gotten to work. After a few moments, a Perfect quality Healing Potion had been produced, and he handed it off to the NPC"I've, uh... Got a little experience in this field," he explained, rubbing the back of his head. "Guess it's your turn."
 

Spoiler

ID: 129558
LD: 11
Perfect Healing Potion crafted.

 

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Joanne was impressed by the skill that Dederick had with crafting potions. Then he remembered. He was an alchemist. Of course he had experience crafting potions. "Good job, Dederick," she congratulated him.

She greeted Zachariah as he turned to her. "Hello, sir. Would you be able to show me how to craft a potion?" she asked the old NPC

"Why of course!" Zachariah replied. He sat down with her for a few minutes, showing her what to do. After studying Zachariah's movements carefully, Joanne knew she was ready. 

"Alright, here goes nothing," she said as she mixed some ingredients together. Immediately, her mixture turned a deep red color, the perfect color for a health potion. 

"Ah, congratulations, young woman!" Zachariah exclaimed. "It seems that you succeeded on your very first try. Well done!" He then handed her a package. "Now, would you be able to run another errand for me? I need this delivered to Lyle Tealeaf, a local blacksmith." 

Joanne took the package carefully in her hands. "Of course, sir," she said as she put the package in her inventory. Then she turned to Dederick. "Are you ready to go now?" Her stomach then growled. A red hue came to her cheeks. "Um, and if so, would you like to go get something to eat?" 

@Dederick

Spoiler

crafting Healing Potion
Roll ID#: 129561
CD: 10
1 Perfect Healing Potion Created!

 

Edited by Joanne

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Dederick couldn't help but stifle a laugh as Joanne's stomach groaned at her. "Yes, absolutely. Let's get this quest cleared, then I'll take you wherever you would like to go."

It didn't take long to reach Lyle's workshop and deposit the package. There was a quest that the man would give them, but they were far to preoccupied with what to get for lunch. Once they had departed from the workshop, Dederick's glance met with Joanne's azure eyes. "Any idea what we should eat? There are a ton of great restaurants here on the first floor. I chose last time, so it seemed to make sense that you would get to pick this time. Anywhere you want, my treat."

The warmth in his voice and his smile surprised even himself. It had been a long time since he had felt such genuine joy from being around someone else. In fact, he wasn't sure if he ever had. It was refreshing, and only made him yearn for more.

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When Dederick offered for her to pick the place to eat, she became excited. She knew just the place. Taking him by the hand, she led him through the winding streets of the Town of Beginnings until they reached an old English style restaurant. The sign in front of the establishment read "Ye Olde Restaurant". She looked down at Dederick, still holding his hand, a smile across her lips. "This is one of the few places in game that reminds me of back home. Their cooking is nearly as good as mum's." Once she had finished speaking, she led him inside and quickly sat down at a booth near one of the windows -- her usual spot. A kind waitress came over and asked for their orders. Right away, Joanne said, "Beef stew with fresh bread and butter on the side. And a glass of lemonade to go with it."

The waitress smiled and then turned to Dederick. "And for you, young sir?" she asked. 

@Dederick

 

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As she grasped his hand and led him through the winding city streets, Dederick couldn't help but feel her warmth against his palm. It was a peculiar sensation, like the tender touch of an orchid. He paid attention to this warmth and nothing else, until suddenly he found himself sat in a booth with a young waitress smiling at him.

"And for you, young sir?"

Where were they? Had Joanne already ordered? Yes, he was sure he had heard her say something about stew.

"I'll have what she's having," he managed through his blush, and the waitress jotting the order and taking a bow before departing. "I really like this place," he started, cobalt eyes flickering to meet with Joanne's. "I figured you would know what was best when it came to something like this. Now we can enjoy the same thing." His small talk was horrible. He could still feel the residual heat of her grip against his palm. It seemed to be all he was capable of focusing on. 

The waitress returned with their orders much sooner than he was expecting. As they were placed in front of the pair, the waitress bowed once more and let them be. Dederick took a spoonful of the stew and put it in his mouth, and immediately he was in heaven. He carefully chewed before gulping it down, then looked to Joanne with enthusiasm brimming in his eyes. "This... is so good..."

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"This... is so good..."

Joanne's eyes lit up with pure happiness. She was glad that he enjoyed the food here. She had been concerned that he might not like it since it was a unique type of food. "I'm so glad you like the food. When we're back in the real world, you'll have to taste my mum's. It's ten times as good!" she exclaimed. She blushed and covered her mouth. Had she really just invited him over to dinner after just realizing she had feelings for him? She hoped he wouldn't mind. "I mean, if you would like to of course," she continued. To distract herself, she dipped a piece of buttered bread into the stew and brought it to her lips, gently biting off a small piece. She smiled and closed her eyes, sighing happily. "This food always helps remind me of the real world and what I'm fighting for." She reached over and held his hand in hers. "Now I have two reasons to keep fighting," she said, looking deeply into his eyes. 

@Dederick

Edited by Joanne

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Go try it? How would I even do that?

The reality of the situation struck Dederick like a freight train. How would he even ever go to see her in the real world, if things were to develop that way? She lived an entire ocean away. His face soured as he rolled around another spoonful of the beef stew in his mouth. Eventually, he finally swallowed and looked back into her eyes. 

"Yeah... I'll have to try it. It sounds delicious."

He tried to hide the despair in his voice, but it was difficult to prevent it from seeping through. It seemed like such an impossible feat. Back in the real world, he was nothing more than a wandering vagrant. How could he ever hope to make it across the ocean to see her?

If it was something that needed to happen, he would find a way. That was the idea he finally settled on. He would swim across the ocean if he needed to. Though, this deep train of thought probably had him making all sorts of strange scrunchy faces at Joanne that he wasn't even realizing. All at once, he snapped back to a neutral expression, taking another spoonful of the stew and plopping it into his mouth.

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Joanne grew concerned as she heard the tone of Dederick's voice and saw his expression twist into one of worry and despair. "Dederick? Is everything alright?" She paused for a moment and bit her lip out of nervousness as she thought. "If I said anything too soon or too forward, I apologize. I didn't mean to cause you any worry or concern." She smiled gently and squeezed his hand. "I suppose we should focus on getting to front lines and getting out of this game before we think about the real world, right?" she said, thinking that this is what he was worried about. It didn't cross her mind that he could be worrying about how to meet her. In fact, she had so much money saved up that she could easily pay for a plane ticket and train ride to see her.

Years of responsible spending and lack of personal vacation time had allowed her to create a decently sized savings account. It didn't help that she never took a break from helping others either. She always sacrificed her free time to help those in need at soup kitchens and through her local church's food program. She volunteered long hours to help care for the poor, sick, and needy. 

@Dederick

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Dederick's expression softened as he felt the gentle touch of Joanne's fingers lightly working their way across his. The warmth was comforting.

"Yeah, you're right. Worrying about that seems silly while we're still trapped in here. We should focus on getting out. But still, I don't think there's anything wrong with enjoying our time together, either," he said as he cast a warm smile her way. Yes, that seemed to be the only right way of going about it.

He took a few more spoonfuls of the stew, relishing in its rich flavor. He then took a piece of bread and dipped it into the broth, allowing it to soak some of it up before taking a bite. It was absolutely delightful.

"I think this needs to be our new spot," Dederick admitted on a satisfied exhaled after gulping down the bread. "I didn't know what I was missing out on. Hot dogs don't even come close."

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