Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Snow

[F01-PP] The Gemini - Snow vs Calrex

Recommended Posts

It seemed that Snow had returned to a bit more a relaxed exterior after being on edge for quite some time, at least from what the bluenette could gather from the occasional glances back, "Guess that's a good sign. With the tension lifted just a little we might be able to at least have a decent conversation about her friend at least. Now hopefully the Starlight Cafe isn't to..."

"..."

"......"

As Calrex looked forward once again, his eyes were greeted by an entrance to...a tavern? "Did...I take a wrong turn somewhere? I swore it was a left, then a right and it would be at the next fork in the streets. Did it close down or something...I really hope not."

"Sorry...I think I got turned around somewhere, one se..."

A squawk could be heard from above, the Ultramarine Knight looking skywards for a moment. Roc was hovering overhead, a few doors away. Lowering his field of view, his eyes recognized the exterior of the Starlight Cafe. He heaved a large sigh of relief, "alright good it didn't randomly close down..."

Pointing over at the entrance he looked back at the blonde, "Sorry, we were almost there. It's that way."

@Snow

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"O-oh," Snow stammered. She looked at the tavern and the little cafe further down. Her eyes met the soaring blue falcon in the sky and back to Calrex.

Is he directionally challenged? Maybe he's...?

Snow stopped her train of thought. She didn't know him, but he surely had enough skill to make it to the front lines. Judging him as inept would be foolish and rude. She was plenty of both and needn't compile her shortcomings. She continued to follow Calrex until they entered the cafe. She followed behind him with a small ring of a brass bell to announce their entrance. Small and quaint, the interior looked as though it has seem many regulars. The person behind the counter waived. Did they know Calrex or was that just NPC hospitality?

"I see you didn't bring Oikawa this time," the person mentioned to Calrex.

"Wow, you must really frequent here. Do you have a regular table?" Snow asked. She felt nervous despite the few patrons in the cafe. They all seemed to mind their own business as regulars tend to do. 

@Calrex

Edited by Snow

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As he entered into the cafe, the blunette was hit for a quick moment with nostalgia. If he was being honest, it had been a long time since he had been into the Starlight Cafe. Ever since Teayre had moved the Amethyst Boutique due to becoming an orange player, he had not spent a lot of time on the first floor. Granted, Oikawa had also been a regular person to attend, even being the person to introduce the two to the place, but due to him also becoming an orange player, that really reduced the number of regulars he knew. Looking behind the counter, Calrex recognized the NPC host, giving a nod, "I think it's gonna be a bit before he's able to come back, but I'll be sure to let him know you mentioned him."

Hearing Snow comment about his regularity, he gave a small shake of his head, "I used to come pretty frequently, but as of late I haven't been able to. I don't believe the NPCs reserve tables here, so I just normally go for whatever table is available. It does seem like this place has seen a good influx of business though."

Directing over to a nearby table that was next to one of the paneled windows, the bluenette went over and pulled out the seats before returning to grab a menu, "I already know what I'm going to get, so feel free to take your time browsing through it."

@Snow

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Snow followed the bluenette to the table near the window. It was peaceful and the sight of people passing by gave her something to do beside make eye contact with the front line player. She took a seat in the chair he pulled out for her and thanked him.

How chivalrous, she thought.

When he came back, he handed her a menu. She took it and thanked him again. Snow could see why Daire liked him. Such manners; something especially rare online and among gamers. The menu listed only a few items, but they were all common dishes and drinks to be expected at a cafe. From the corner of her eye, she looked to Calrex and back to the drinks listed. Given her terrible behavior, she'd rather keep it simple.

"What can I get for you two?" A young lady approached the table wearing an apron and commoner's clothes.

"Could I just have some house tea please? No sugar." Snow ordered. Couldn't get more basic than that. 

"House tea, got it. Usual for you?"

@Calrex

Edited by Snow

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Heh, you still remember huh? Yes please, one cafe mocha."

"I mean...I shouldn't be surprised. I came here so often before and always got that, so by this point the NPC AI must automatically attribute my player info with that."

With that the hostess went to the back of the cafe, returning back shortly afterwards with their drinks. The smell of the chocolate and coffee beans filled his senses as the bluenette gently lifted the cup for a sip, the light brown liquid vanishing into his mouth before he set it back down, "Still tastes the exact same as when I first came here. If this were real life, I have a feeling that would be something particularly impressive."

Glancing outside, Calrex saw as Roc swooped down to the ground, well below the lower part of the window, seemingly going to hunt for a snack. Moments later, the blue peregrine falcon came back into view, a dead rat in his claw as the avian moved again out of sight. A bead of sweat formed on the side of the Ultramarine Knight's head at the strangely comedic sight before he took another sip of his beverage, looking forward towards his drinking companion, "How's the tea? I haven't had it here before, since I usually go with a mocha."

@Snow

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A mocha huh? That's such a... sweet drink. Wouldn't have guessed him to be the type.

Shortly, their drinks arrived and the server lightly bowed before leaving them to talk. Outside the window, his blue bird swooped down, disappeared, and came back with a dead animal in tow. Snow's face twisted in disgust with a note of intrigue and confusion.

"So..." she started the same time he asked about her tea. Snow turned away, still feeling awkward and embarrassed. She diverted her attention to the ceramic cup of green tea in front of her. The girl carefully brought it to her lips and took a quick sip. The hot liquid nearly scalded her tongue. The mellow notes mixed with a slight hint of lemon, jasmine, and a touch of mint. 

"It's good," she commented flatly. She set down her mug to cool for a little while longer. "Has some nice undertones in it. Not too much though, but just enough to make it different."

She let the air stagnate for a brief moment while she tried to think of the words to say. He already seemed to bury the hatchet, but Snow held onto her actions with guilt. 

"So, umm... Have you been on the front lines a long time?" Snow winced a bit at the question.

Stupid, Alyssa. Stupid. Of course he has. God, you're an idiot.

@Calrex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Oh nice, good to hear it was a decent pick."

More patrons, both player and NPC alike, slowly made took their turns entering and leaving the cafe, with even the hostess that attended them eventually also rotating out for another AI character, simulating the rotation of both customer and staff of a similar such place in real life. 

He was mid-sip as Snow asked her question, albeit a rather odd one that had him pause for a brief second to make sure he heard the question correctly. Finishing his gulp of chocolate-flavored coffee drink the bluenette set the drink back down on it's smaller plate before responding, "It's been quite a while, at least to my memory. I believe I started participating in the floor raids starting with the eleventh floor, and if I am recalling correctly...I have participated in every one of those battles up to the current floor. Although...I guess the eleventh floor, as well as a few others after that, couldn't really be considered battles due to them being over so quickly."

With that he gave a small stretch before continuing the conversation, "So how long have you been questing at this point? Have you had a chance to check out any of the higher floors?"

@Snow

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So he was one of the first huh? He's been on the front lines that long... God, the things he must have seen...

Snow felt her guilt deepen. She stared into her mug of tea quietly as her mind ran. To think he could remain so positive and casual after all that fighting. She thought of how she might act after all those life threatening battles. All she could picture was a shattered husk of her current self -- broken, damaged, apathetic.

"That's a long time..." she commented. Her gaze stayed fixed on her tea as if it were to do a trick. The trick never happened.

"Three months," Snow replied to Calrex, her voice low and soft. "Only three months. I lived not too far from here in the halfway houses. I lived with the other players too scared to leave the safe zones."

I lived with the other cowards while you and Daire fought. While Daire and the others died. Just so I could feel safe...

Snow shook her head and brought her mug up for another sip. She set the much back upon its saucer with a timid clink.

"I only went to the safe zones, with..."

With the Knights. The knights that no longer exist.

"With a guild I used to belong to. They're all gone now."

She turned to him.

"I'm so sorry. Had I known how long you were fighting... I'm sorry for what I said in the plaza. You... you must've had to say goodbye so many times..."

@Calrex

Edited by Snow

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Three months huh, so you are still fresh to the adventuring scene for the most part."

"That is still fairly new in the scope of all the other players. I'm sure there are some that have been like me and suddenly risen through the ranks in that period of time, but not everyone has that almost suicidal level of grinding. In fact it still took me some time before I hit a good stride."

Listening as Snow talked about her past travels with a former guild, the bluenette gave a nod, "I'm sorry to hear about that. I'm not familiar with all of the past guilds, but I hope it was on mostly agreeable terms. Also there is no need to apologize, as I believe I kind of understand where you were coming from back then."

He put a hand behind his head, ruffling the back of his hair at the situation, reaching down and taking another sip of his mocha. The act itself was more to initiate a pause, allowing him to gather his thoughts before speaking. "Unfortunately, I wish that there was time to say goodbye in such a short period of time. At the point their health reaches zero, that's basically it, nothing but floating faint crystals after that. I'm probably glad and lucky to say that almost all of the people I know and have grown close to in Aincrad are still alive, but there are others where the last I saw of them was their crossed out name on the Monument of Life..."

Giving a small sigh Calrex placed both of his hands on the outside of his cup, "...that being said, any life lost on the frontlines also is a huge impact to the group as a whole. It means that the progression through the floors slows down significantly. At one point we lost two extremely powerful players, and the change almost felt like we had grinded to a halt. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the players in the halfway houses have decided to settle in, as if SAO was their new life from now on..."

His thoughts trailed off for a moment as he remembered the people he once knew, now dead in the game and in real life, growing quiet for a moment before he snapped back to reality, "...in the end, the frontlines has to pushing forward, no matter what losses we incur. As a result, I can see how some people might see those players as heartless or detached."

@Snow

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Yeah... I'm still fairly new..." She repeated again.

If it hadn't been for those constraints on the duel, I would have been culled in a single swing. 

Calrex continued to speak about his memory of losing friends in the field. The sheer horror of his description tightened Snow's throat as if death itself wrapped its bony fingers around her neck. Her small hands rubbed at her collar bone as she thought about his words.

Not even saying goodbye... dreadful... 

He mentioned losing powerful players on the front lines. The thought of even people with all that armor and skill dying unsettled her. She promised her lost friends she would carry on for them, but would it also cost her life? Numbers were everything in this game. If players with all the numbers on their side got killed, how would she stand a chance? Snow got nervous. Her leg started to bounce under the table and she folded her fingers into each other to prevent herself from strumming her nails against the wood. 

"That's... That's just horrifying..."

For the moment, Snow forgot she even had tea in front of her. She was too absorbed in her thoughts of doubt.

I mean, at least it was painless for Daire right? She thought as she searched for some silver lining.

@Calrex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

He took a small sip of his drink once again, the bluenette letting a moment of quiet hang in the air after Snow gave her response to his words. A bead of sweat formed on the side of his head as he observed the changes in the blonde's body language, becoming more guarded from what he said, "I might have said a bit too much. She hasn't really adventured much, and most likely I may have become a bit desensitized with it constantly happening around me."

"It is...although I do apologize if the way I spoke colored things in such a bleak light. I guess if anything, if you do decide to try and join the frontlines, I wanted to stress how serious each floor raid can be. Luckily enough it's been some time since we lost someone to the floor bosses, but because we only know so much information about the raid before entering, there is always the chance we can be caught unprepared."

With that he took another gulp of his drink, almost as if he was suggesting that Snow should do so as well. Gently resting the mug back on the saucer he gave a small sigh, "Alright then, how about you tell me a bit more about your friend. I am truly sorry that I cannot place a face to the name, but maybe if you can tell me a bit more about her, maybe there is the chance that I know someone who might have known her."

@Snow

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

His voice wrested her from the spiraling chaos that began to build inside her. For a moment, her leg stopped bouncing. Her focus gathered and settled on the cup in front of her folded hands. She loosened her grip on herself and air hit the dampness that formed between them. A slight shake affected her hand before it lifted the tea to her lips for a small sip. The aroma and flavors helped ground her back to reality. Part of her wanted to reach for her head to remove the Nerve Gear, but she tried that so very many times in the first few weeks. Despite the desire, she remembered it would always bare failure.

"Right." Snow net down her mug and took a deep breath. She held it and let the stress melt away a little. 

"Sorry," she apologized. "Some of us, I think, distract ourselves in the reality of this place and we forget the gravity of the situation. Coping, I guess? It's just..."

She emptied her lungs in defeat.

"Anyway. Yes. My room mate." Snow brought the mug to her lips again. This time she took a longer draw and a gulp. "Her name here was Last_Chance. We live in a small studio togeth-- I mean, 'lived' in a small studio together at a college dormitory. She tried to get me more into games and majored in 3D design. She worked on a few concepts in an intern program that look like some of the things I've seen in here. She came home one day with the Nerve Gears and two copies so I could try it with her."

Snow took a breath.

"Well, you know how that went. After we got the news, I didn't take it well. First time playing a game like this, hardly played games before, and now I'd be learning how to play where death is permanant and real. I freaked out. Daire felt like she could help. She wanted to. We fought about it, but she ended up going anyway. She wrote me daily. Taught me a few things, and told me stories about the dungeons and boss raids. The last few messages I got from her, she mentioned you by name."

Snow laughed.

"You supposedly saved her life. After that, I think she developed a crush on you. Wanted to get you to ask her out. I'm surprised you don't remember her -- fiery red-head, freckles, green eyes... She had a pretty strong personality. I think she used a spear and shield? Said she ran DPS on one of the assault teams.

@Calrex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Calrex listened attentively as Snow explained her background with her friend and roommate Daire, the player known as Last_Chance. He took in each details, about how her friend was majoring in 3d design, most likely to be be some of game designer or programmer when she graduated. The bluenette himself was already a couple of years out of college before becoming trapped in SAO. As her story continued, he slowly raised his mocha to his mouth, taking a slow drink as the blonde spoke about her friend's daily messages about the dungeons and boss raids, although he did raise an eyebrow when Snow said Daire mentioned him by name.

At that point, the Ultramarine Knight believe that Aincrad had some some kind of comedic timing, because as the person across from him spoke about her friend's crush on him, it took everything in his power to stop from accidentally inhaling some of his virtual drink or doing a spit take, feeling some sweatdrops run down the side of his head and back of his neck. "Okay...I really was not prepared for that."

As Snow described Daire's features and build, he took a deep breath, making sure to not repeat his almost accident before setting the cup back down, giving a small laugh, "A DPS that wields a spear and shield huh? Well, I will admit that I don't know many players that would have that combination. I believe all of the wielders of a spear and shield tended more towards tanks. There was one player that was considered the main tank of the floor raids before his retirement named Tristan that wielded that exact set of gear, and oddly was also a redhead. As for a strong personality...I have a feeling she probably would have really blended in with a lot of the frontliners, they do tend to be a ragtag bunch when you get them all together."

With that he adjusted a little so that his cup and saucer were out of the way of his hands as he placed both on the table, interlocked as he gave a breath, "If she was on the assault teams, then there may have been a chance I met her, and maybe even potentially fought alongside her. But...the floor raids are fairly chaotic, and there have definitely been times players have joined the frontlines for a raid, only to not show up again for the next one. Eventually...I think I might have started to not take in the small details like player names and really just went into an autopilot, protecting whoever was under my team assignment without really recognizing who they were outside of what they were doing. You probably could have swapped a player out for a cardboard cutout and I might not have detected the difference."

@Snow

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the time between her reckless actions and the current moment, Snow came to terms that he simply didn't remember her. Like he said, those early fights were chaotic. Even Daire's PMs talked about the mess of players trying to combat one or a few enemies. She'd hate vent on terrible rotations, people getting in the way, and no one truly holding command. All in all, Daire knew Calrex, but he had other priorities to focus on.

Snow nodded. She quietly took another draw from her cup. 

"Yeah..." Her voice listed off. "That makes sense..."

She shook her head and somberly giggled a little. Forehead met hand and she propped herself up as she pondered her naivety.

"I'm so horribly embarrassed." Snow looked over to Calrex. "It was... I don't know what it was, but I'm sorry. I don't know what I expected. I just..."

Snow let out a defeated sigh.

"There's a lot to process with all this and I don't quite think I'm fully prepared mentally for any of it. I took out some of my frustrations on you. It's not your fault. Never was. I should be thanking you."

That last statement didn't sit well in her gut, but the truth of it kept it palpable. He didn't cause Daire's death. Snow fabricated that assumption based on a letter where he saved her once. She didn't even know what raid she died in.

@Calrex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The bluenette kept silent as Snow took her time with speaking, the little moments of time taken for each of them to take a sip from their respective drinks seemingly helping to control the slower than normal pace of their conversation. It certainly helped Calrex with processing what the blonde would say and compose a response in his mind before speaking. He gave a small smile as she expressed her embarrassment over her previous actions, hiding it behind his cup of mocha. As she finished her last statement, the Ultramarine Knight gave a calming breath, a faint bit of condensation escaping his lips before he spoke.

"It's quite alright, and please there's no need to be expressing thanks. I probably wouldn't consider taking it, since a death on the frontlines during a floor raid is something I would also consider a failure. I may not have caused it, but in some way I still feel responsible, because as the supposed strongest and most prepared players out of all the ones in Aincrad, the frontlines should be doing all we can to make sure everyone survives. None of us should be boiled down to mere mobs to throw at the floor bosses until we make it through. Because of that..."

He placed both hands on the table, bowing his head and upper torso, his face now directed towards his lap, "I truly am sorry. If anything this probably isn't an isolated incident. With all the lives lost to the raids, there are probably loved ones left behind in their wakes that don't wish to raise their voices. I appreciate that you were able to convey your frustrations."

@Snow

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When Calrex bowed and formally apologized, Snow felt heat rise in her cheeks and her eyes began to sting. He wasn't to blame. He wasn't...

Tears began to flow down her face. She couldn't hold them back. Her throat tightened. She shook her head. She tried to stop. She made enough scenes for one day. But... seeing him apologize. Seeing him acknowledge her loss and take responsibility, even if it was in part, filled her with both sadness and at the same time, peace.

"S-stop." She managed with a quiver of her breath. "Sit up. Please."

Her hands tended to her tears. She sniffled and struggled to regain composure. She finally calmed herself and took a few steady breaths. She could see now why Daire liked him. To think people like him even still existed in this place...

"Let's just... forget it all." Snow fell quiet and took a drink from her mug. Only a little remained. Snow's voice became quiet and timid. "Thank you, Calrex... you're a sweet man..."

@Calrex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

He paused for a moment before straightening back up to sitting up straight, a bead of sweat running down the side of his head as he saw that his act apparently had put Snow over the edge, tears streaming down her eyes, "Sure thing, of course."

Reaching down the bluenette retrieved his cup of what remained of the dark chocolate, espresso, and milk mixture, seeing that he was probably only a few sips away from running dry. Taking one of those sips he set it back down, his avatar's mouth simulating the fading warmth as the drink slowly lowered to room temperature, "Let's go ahead and switch topics then. I'm guessing since you do have equipment and skills that you have been doing, or at least planning to do, some adventuring. Was there something that you were looking to work towards. A lot of players I've seen nowadays, at least when I do wander around, have some kind of role they want to fill in mind."

"Guess I'm not really one to talk though. I spent nearly half of my levels without any particular build in mind, since it was mostly taking skills in reaction to some adversity I encountered along the way. Efficiency in a role is definitely not something that I would say my skills embody."

@Snow

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The change of topics helped. Still, after today's events, a weight seemed lifted off he chest. She had him to thank for that even if the means didn't quite justify the gains. Snow took her final draw from the mug of tea. It allowed her time to contemplate his question to which even afterward she still fell blank.

"I'm not sure," she replied as she set her empty glass upon its saucer. "I'm just worrying about survival at this point. Before the guild disbanded, they gave me some equipment. That's kept me alive so far. I guess I'm just trying to go through the motions until I find something comfortable."

"I'm not the type that wants to rush into a fight and hack things to bits. I really just want to help those kinds of players succeed. Someone told be a tank is a good idea, but... I don't know if I can get attacked all the time either. They told me to get a spear so I wouldn't have to get too close to fight. And good armor so I wouldn't be scared of getting hit. That's about all I know right now."

She turned to him.

"What kind of role are you? My idea of a front liner is like a group of knights. Is that what you are?"

Talking calmed Snow down. She still felt at peace, but her tears had all but dried. Some day, she would have to thank Calrex for his kindness. She owed him so much already.

@Calrex

Edited by Snow

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Hm..."

As the blonde spoke about what her guild left her, the bluenette listened while taking one last draw from his cup, finishing off the rest of his mocha. It seemed that Snow had received advice that was fairly standard for someone struggling with a non-DPS role. In some ways it would be putting her in a similar route to what Hestia had served as originally, a support tank. From what Calrex could recall, he had started off as a pseudo damage-dealer wen he wielded straight sword, but after picking up heavy armor and Howl it pretty much set his role as a tank in stone, "Still not fully sure if I should remain that way, but I'll give it a bit longer before I finalize that decision."

"I'm not exactly what you would be expecting to see until much later in level. I'm one of the vey few players to my knowledge which have reached the highest level currently possible, so I have enough skill points to really diversify what I can do. If you want to be very specific, I'm a hybrid of a tank and damage dealer. As for the frontlines, they're much more diversified than a group of knights. A lot tend to be damage dealers, sporting light armor and wielding weapons suited for that, although to my knowledge a lot of people have branched towards stealth mechanics because of some recent changes to the ambush skill modifications."

Moving his cup and saucer fully to the side he placed his arms into his jacket pockets, giving a contemplative sigh, "The main reason why normally people specialize in weapon and armor first is for survivability and the ability to adventure and complete quests on their own. If you take on any quests solo, then eventually at some point you will have to take down monsters, particular strong ones if you are looking to gain skill points quickly..."

"Hm...I wonder...since it is what the others are hoping to embody..."

"I know you just recently got out of a guild, but if you don't wish to carry a weapon, I can see if some of my guild might be interested in accompanying you through the quests. That way at least you'll have others to be able to work with you on at least majority of the quests I know of. They are have participated in the floor raids as well, so it's possible maybe one of them might know of your friend and be able to tell you what happened."

@Snow

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Highest level?

The phrase intimidated her a little. She knew he was up there, but not at the top. 

"Oh, well I guess that makes sense." Snow commented regarding the front line diversity. "You seem to know a lot, but that's not shocking considering you're such a high level."

Snow laughed a little. She didn't quite understand the lingo, but discerned there was still plenty to learn about the game. To her knowledge, there was weapons and armor. All the other nuances were gibberish to be deciphered somewhere down the road when she could go toe to toe with anything but a boar and not be afraid. She knew one thing for certain, she lacked the aggression to manage a damage role. When he mentioned his guild, Snow looked away.

"O-oh, no. That's quite alright. I've caused enough problems." Her hands fiddled with the empty cup and saucer in front of her. "I'll manage somehow. Besides, you and your guild are busy trying to get us all out of here. It would be selfish to ask for your help. You're already helping everyone."

Her cup came to rest with a clink. Both hands lightly sat on the outside of it as Snow remained quiet for a while. The slight glimmer of brightness in her dulled again. She smiled, but its authenticity could be questioned.

"Thank you for the tea, Calrex." Snow placed a few col on the table to cover her portion or the tip. She stood up from her seat and offered him a curt bow. "It's been nice to meet you. Maybe we'll meet again some day on better terms."

She didn't pause much to leave time for reply. Enough of his time had been wasted with her. To think she'd possibly drag another guild down with her... Snow turned for the door and made for the alley. 

@Calrex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this  

×