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[OP-F1] Together, now!

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Her eyes drifted from one to the other as two Players, armored and armed in a way she still didn't quite understand went at each other.  The bulkier of the two brandished a massive axe, bigger than she was while the other, a lanky and tall man ran his finger across the edge of his blade. They were poised for a fight. "Guys," Lishuu held up her hands and tried to crack a smile. It felt awkward. The whole premise of this world felt awkward, to be honest. Lishuu didn't understand all the bells and whistles that went into programming something this detailed, but she did understand the warped mentality that fostered the urge to do so. Some madman with a god complex, no doubt. That wasn't as important as the situation in front of her, though. "Guys please, is it really that important?

Lishuu spoke with a Lancashire accent, which most people who knew her thought silly because she lived much of her life in London.  The crowd that gathered didn't seem to care what she sounded like though, because they were all placing bets on who would walk away victorious. "You're both very... whatever it is you want me to say," she flailed her hands above her head. "I don't think that fighting among ourselves is a very conducive way to spend our time, given the circumstances. What do you really get out of this?"

"Satisfaction!" the scrawnier man yowled.

"I can't just let what he said pass," the behemoth of a man snorted as he hefted his weapon over his shoulder. "Everyone knows, heavy armor is far superior in Aincrad. If they can't get through to your hit points, you're much less likely to die."

"And if they can't hit you, that doesn't even matter!" the indignant rogue espoused with his nose turned up. "We'll settle this with a half loss duel, if you manage to hit me even once, though, I'll be impressed!"

She felt her shoulders sink. People always seemed to find something to disagree over, even when it was as asinine as pixels in a virtual world. "Look, if you guys want to fight, I won't stop you," she said, "but honestly, I think it's quite stupid and I want no part in it." She crossed her arms vehemently. These two idiots were among the first friends she made in this world, yet they were so quick to fall into the trap of disagreement. She hated to see it. Lish did not want to watch her friend group fall apart over something so trivial, but they were on the cusp of a clash that would inevitably change their dynamic forever.

Or at least, it felt that way. She felt that way. Powerless to do anything, she turned to the crowd. "And look at all of you, encouraging them! Take your money, get out of here!" She flicked her wrists dismissively, "Go on, shoo!"

No one seemed to pay her any mind. It was madness, the people had made their decision and now over two thousand years after the dawn of civilized society, they were on the cusp of delighting in blood sport like their baser ancestors.

"Bloody hell," she murmured.

It was not a good day.

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Peace at last. After spending most of the morning hammering away at ingots of god only knew what in his forge (and far too many failed crafts for a smith of his rank), Dax had set aside his hammer and decided to watch the storefront, Okami lazing at his side, per usual. It was a shame that he didn't actually own any books to read, as the shop was empty for the time being. Even still, Koga was just glad for the silence.

"If they can't get through to your hit points, you're much less likely to die."

"And if they can't hit you, that doesn't even matter!"

Shouting and the clamor of a crowd broke the thin veil of solitary silence. Koga hung his head back in his chair. "Oh, you have got to be freaking kidding me..." he groaned. 'Maybe they'll just go away?'

"We'll settle this with a half loss duel, if you manage to hit me even once, though, I'll be impressed!"

Some cheers and idiots asking about bets.

"Take your money, get out of here! Go on, shoo!"

Jeering back at the voice.

The sound of The Ring and Sword's door swinging violently open and slamming against the brick of the building cracked through the air. "Hey! Would you guys shut up and takes this anywhere else!" It only took Koga a moment to spot the trio who had clearly started to gather the crowd, and it was equally clear that they were all much lower levels than him. The man pointed a finger at the trio whilst shouting, "So help me god if you guys don't break this up right now, I will come out there and kick all of your asses!"

This was not a good day.


Edited by Koga
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Things only got more heated as the two got in each other's face. Lish felt lightheaded as they escalated into a shouting match, and she took a seat slightly away from the roiling crowd. They shoved and tugged at each other as the armored man threw a punch. Cardinal did not register it as an attack, since the necessary skill was uninvolved and the man was not armed with his weapon, so there was no real damage, but the shrimpy man still bit the dirt hard. 

"Hey! No fair, you sucker punched me!" he shouted up at the other man, but sense had left the building. Riding the high of emotions, the plate wearing player seized his opportunity and hopped on top of the other man, and he began punching relentlessly. "H-hey! Stop! This isn't cool, man!"

Lish was nothing short of terrified. For over a year the two men were the best of friends. Small disagreements peppered that time frame, but it was normal for friends to bicker. What seemed abnormal was they way that they handled it when they went out into the wilds beyond the safety of the town and looked to get stronger. Now their perspectives had changed. One was was right, the other was wrong.

It was a spiritual war between two different cultures, and far beyond the two men she'd befriended. Lishuu did not like this at all. She stood suddenly and hurried to push apart the crowd as another man howled. 

"...I will come out there and kick all your asses!"

"Oh please do hurry up about it," she cried out. "They've lost their bloody minds!"

She was not strong, nor did she have the commanding presence necessary to break up a fight. With almost no experience outside of town, her strength stat was too pitiful to move any of the other Players, and so her attempts to push through the crowd were made in vain. Instead, she resorted to calling out. "Will someone please..."

Lish raised her voice even more, and she screamed..

"Please! This damned game is already vile enough without all the fighting amongst ourselves!"

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Before Koga had even finished his sentence, two of the three quickly began to fight. Okay, well, it was less of a fight, and more of just the larger man beating the absolute piss out of the skinny guy. Their third, a blue haired woman, shouted at him to step him. For anyone to step in.

"Oh, you can't be serious," the swordsman grumbled as he slammed his shop's door closed behind him. The armored man was really doing a number on the smaller man. Or rather, he would be if this wasn't a safezone and the man wasn't using just his fists with apparently no martial arts skill. In addition to the game's pain dampeners, it was probably little more than unpleasant and scary for the smaller man. Grabbing onto the armored man's chest piece, Koga yanked him off the lanky one. Despite being quite a bit smaller than the brute of a warrior, the fact that SAO was a numbers game alone meant that Koga only had to put in a small amount of effort into the action, even without any gear equipped. Koga.Str >= Idiot1.Str returned true.

Standing between the two men, Koga pushed the taller man further back, and away from the lanky man, a look of fury on his face. "The hell do you think you're doing?" he questioned angrily, Okami beside, growling threateningly. "This is a goddamn safezone. If you guys have a problem, settle it in a duel. Don't drag others into your fucking problems."

It wasn't normal for Koga to step into these kinds of situations, let alone berate those involved. Maybe he was just having a really bad day. Or maybe he was sick of watching friends fight each other, forgetting who the enemy was, and who would be watching their backs as soon as they stepped outside the safezone. Who they'd have to watch die if they couldn't get along.


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She covered her mouth and stared, wide eyed as the seemingly small man ripped away a much larger person. The Herculean feat earned the appreciation and ire of the crowd in equal measure. Shouts of 'boo!' and 'this is the most excitement we've had in months!' clashed against 'thank god!' and 'I thought that was going to be really bad!'

Lish exhaled her terror and closed her eyes for a moment to compose herself. The worst side of humanity had its own terrifying way of showing, much the same way as the brightest part of them really shined. She loved all of it- a love affair with mankind that no one would ever be able to surmount. It was moments like these that reminded her of that.

"Dear lord, I'm so very glad someone was nearby," the bluenette murmured, a hand over her heart as the excitement washed away. She was trembling. 

Unfortunately, the brawny bastard seemed more displeased by his removal. "I couldn'couldn't hurt him if I wanted to!" he boomed, flailing wildly. "I just wanted to scare him! Y'know, make him realize he was being dumb."

"You're being dumb," the girl said softly as she placed a finger on the man's nose. "Beating someone up has nothing to do with the game's mechanics. You wouldn't be proving your point at all, you'd just be a bully. Look at him, he's terrified," Lish commented as she gestured toward the other man, now cowering on the pavement. "You had better apologize," she scolded him. "You might have lost a precious friend over this foolishness."

"But Lish...!"

"No buts!" she shoved a finger in his face and took a step into his personal space. The man took a step back, reluctant. "What were you going to do after you scourged him? Pretend it never happened? Make him treat you with some newfound respect? Did you even think it through at all?"


"Are you alright?" she asked of the other man, a hand on his shoulder to offer some comfort. "Its over now, you needn't hide..." Lish sighed. The realization struck that this might become a much bigger situation if they didn't work to resolve the trauma before it festered, but she wasn't any kind of psychologist. Her shoulders sagged slightly for a moment, then she looked up to Koga with a kind smile. 

"Thank you very much for your help," she told him. Not quite willing to leave her friend's side just yet, she continued. "I'm Lishuu," she introduced herself as she gently rubbed the fearful man's shoulder.  "And you are...?"

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The larger man clearly didn't get it. The idiot shouted back at Koga in response, Koga was about to step forward and explain to him why the man probably had as many brain cells as he did testicles, but before he even had a chance, the blue-haired woman stepped forward and quite literally stuck her finger in the man's face, and spoke softly but in a clearly chastising tone. Koga blinked in surprise. She was completely dwarfed by the armored buffoon, the absurdity of her telling the man off the way she was took Koga aback for a moment.

After having appropriately scolded the armored man, she quickly rotated over to the shaken, scrawny man on the ground before turning towards the black-clad man who'd broken up the fight and asking his name. "I'm Koga," he answered, perhaps a little too curtly. He was still very annoyed at having his first moment of peace in ages ruined. Still, he shouldn't take it out on this woman. The other guy though. Koga's eyes flicked back over to him and the glare returned. Okami padded over to Koga and rubbed against his leg before sitting down on his haunches, blue eyes affixing them to the armored man. The wolf was watching what he viewed as a threat. Content that Okami had it under control, Koga turned back to Lishuu with a slightly less stern demeanor. "And don't mention it," he said, "Will you three be okay or would you prefer I stick around," another angry glance at the meathead.


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Stuck in the crowd that gathered to witness bloodshed and conflict, Sketch finally was able to see the scene that blocked him from his destination to the merchant's quarter. Snide comments about bets breaking and who would have won passed by his ears as onlookers dispersed. Four figures remained central to the clearing but only one seem out of place from the others. Small in stature and of an entirely opposite gender, a blue-haired woman berated the largest of the three men. Sketch raised a brow and positioned himself to the alley's side. Fights in the Town of Beginnings were not common compared to the early days. What was their reason?

His hand ran along his chin in thought. Some remaining players lingered nearby in conversation. Hopefully this would afford him some manner of camouflage as he listened in to get a better idea of the "why" and "who".

"The big guy would have snapped that tall one in two. I'm telling you, that bet was good as mine..."

"Tch, with all that reach? So long as he kept the gap, the tall one would have carved him up."

"With all that armor?"

The onlooker's conversation continued and Sketch began to piece together parts of the puzzle. What role did the girl play?

As he listened, Sketch picked up on two names: Koga and Lishuu. A nickname of "Lish" was used. They were close. Sketch stifled a chuckle.

'To think that such heated debates between players could just escalate to combat over a silly thing like stats between friends. Man, this world is changing people and not for the better...' he mused to himself. Memories of events at the Monument of Life played at the back of his mind. Mental illness born of stress must run rampant where coping mechanisms failed.

'I wonder how messed up I'll be after being out there long enough,' he wondered.

Completely lost in his thoughts, he paused his mission of picking up some armor for his first foray outside the city.

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Despite that Astralin was starting to rise in level and opportunities, she still found herself roaming the Town of Beginnings from time to time, which wasn't a bad thing, of course. Soon she heard shouting, and saw a crowd, even. She quickly pulled out her Skillbook, and looked up her entries on healing. By the time she'd stowed away the Skillbook, tension seemed to be rising over something that might have ended, based on some of the things being said. Astralin would rush over and make her way through the crowd, with some difficulty, obviously. "Ah, excuse me, coming though!" She said as she waded through the crowd. some turned to look at her, some seemed polite, others were a bit agitated, judging by the looks they gave her for trying to get through them over to the situation, and there were even those who just stared at her...Astralin did what she could to give those individuals a wide berth, she'd rather not be close to what could easily be a common creep.

When she finally reached the scene, she was ready to- well, honestly, react. "Is anyone hurt? I can heal your injuries!" She offered. Then she noticed a familiar face in the scene. "Oh, hi again, Koga. ...Um, care to tell what just happened here?" She asked.

@Lishuu @Koga

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Koga could suddenly hear a strangely familiar voice shouting over all the commotion that was going on. Curious, the man swiveled his head in the direction of the voice and watched as a blonde girl shouldered her way through the dispersing crowd and ran towards the small gathering of disgruntled folks, of course asking if anyone needed to be healed.

"Oh, hey Astralin," Koga greeted her before answering her question, "Nothing to heal but bruised egos, I think. Nothing to worry about." He ended the sentence with a shrug. He didn't really understand what they'd been fighting about if he was going to be honest, nor did he care. Something about armor or no armor? Something like that. He was more concerned that his peace had been disrupted and that he was out here instead...speaking of, why was he still out here? He should've just left them to handle their problems themselves. Curse his better nature.

@Lishuu // @Astralin

Edited by Koga
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"Oh, yes, I think we'll be alright," Lish said with a brilliant smile as she regarded Koga. "Thanks so much for your help, again. I wouldn't have been able to break them up if I'd tried."

The truth was, they were stronger than she was. Not only in physical attributes, but also in spirit. She still didn't have the heart to break free of her fear and inadequacy to take the first steps out of town. Both of these men had done that, and they were well on their way forward. Their small digressions were massive breaks from her norm. The higher they soared, the further away from her they got. Perhaps- perhaps it was time for her to shake off the shackles that bound her and go out into the world, even if there were severe ramifications.

She glanced at her friend, wounded in spirit rather than body. "There really are such kind people in this world," she mused as she listened to the woman offer healing and then to Koga, once again. "There are times when it's so easy to lose yourself in all the horrible things that happen here," she managed to smile and laugh. Through the pain that the world thrust on to her, she still found light shining through. "But that's not all there is. It's good to get reminders of that, from time to time."

Lish stood, helping the other man to his feet. Unease in his gait was apparent, but the voices around him seemed to pull him back from the terror. "Chad, go on, apologize," she glanced to the larger man. "Virgil is still shaking, can you see him?" The scrawnier man shook his head and protested, but Lish poked him with a finger. "Hush you, there's no reason to put on a brave face. It's okay to lean on others sometimes."

"Lish, c'mon-"

She silenced him with a glare that would have boiled water. Her gaze moved to Chad, who hulked over her, and he took a step back. "Aw, come on, Lish, we're all friends here-"

"Apologize," she scowled.

"I don't have time for this," he said as he turned away and threw up his hands. "I have too much crap to do to waste time with you guys. If you decide to stop goofing off, my DMs are open."

Lish felt her heart tear a bit as Chad turned away. Her friends were getting so far away; and the way he was acting was totally unacceptable. Virgil was staring at her when she turned her attention back to him. "I will never understand this toxic masculinity garbage," she huffed as she placed a hand on his shoulder. It was comical, because she reached up in order to do so- but she seemed completely confident in the action. Virgil did not laugh. "Look, it's fine to be scared. What he did wasn't cool, and you have to be willing to tell him when he's gone too far."

"Yeah, but I wasn't right, either," Virgil sagged his shoulders. "I'm sorry, Lish. I should have listened when you were telling me to come off it."

She smiled softly and turned her attention back to the others.  "It looks like he's going to be fine," she assured them. In particular, she smiled at Astralin. "It's so cool that you can heal people," she said appreciatively. "If I could do that, I could do a lot more to help than..."

Her voice trailed off for a moment, and she caught herself looking back toward her dejected friend. Virgil headed back toward the inn where he was staying, and Lish turned to the small group of Players that gathered in the wake of the confusion. "Would you all like some drinks?" she asked them. "I'd be happy to pay you back for your help."


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The larger of the men walked right past Sketch, and his blue eyes trailed him into the distance.

'Couldn't swallow his pride... how petty,' Sketch thought with a scowl. He turned his attention back to Lishuu and her other friend. This one, on the other hand, seemed far more in tune with the consequences of his actions. Perhaps due to defeat? Perhaps due to the weight of her words?

Another girl joined the scene all the while Sketch watched from a small distance. By now, the cover of bystanders dispersed and left him exposed to the side of the ally. He and less than a handful now lingered. Feeling exposed, he figured now to be a good enough time as any to set back on his task to secure some armor. Which...

'Well, I'll be damned. Looks like this guy is a smith.'

Across the way where one of the players emerged hung a sign reading, "The Ring and Sword". The brunette rubbed at his eye with the convenience of it all, and he begrudgingly stepped forward to the collective few.

"Hey," he greeted with a half attempted wave. "Not the best timing, but maybe you'd be willing to bear my company? I have a few questions for the smith that drinks might help with."

He paused in the awkwardness of his interjection.

"I have some col to buy a round or two?"

Edited by SketchSkirmish
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Koga claimed there was nothing hurt, aside from a few bruised egos. A blue haired young woman remarked about Astralin's kindness between words said to Koga. The woman then stood up while helping another player back up, then told the heavy-armor clad player, who she referred to as Chad, to apologize. "He sure looks like a Chad to me...ugh, it's like that name bears a curse that makes people into rude jerks at least some point of their lives." Astralin thought. The blue haired woman then began trying to help the other one further, and she addressed him as Virgil. She told Chad to apologize, but the man simply threw up his hands and left with a petty, childish response.

"Ugh, what a Chad..." Astralin muttered with crossed arms. 

The blue haired player, who Chad and Virgil simply called Lish, told Virgil that she'll never understand that toxic masculinity garbage. Ah, yes, the stereotyping bull crap that Astralin normally didn't tolerate. "Stereotyping, am I right?" Astralin added. She did like how Virgil admitted that he, too, was wrong in whatever argument he and Chad were embroiled in. Everyone had their moments of disagreement and being reactive, even in hostile ways. Astralin was guilty of some reactive moments herself, so she could understand to an fair extent. Her arms returned to her sides, and then "Lish"(was that her name, or username? Nickname, maybe?) told the gathering of players that Virgil was going to be fine. Lish also smiled at Astralin, speaking some appreciative words about her willingness to heal the injured, to which Astralin smiled back. Of course, the bluenette seemed to trail off as if she felt useless, from what Astralin could tell. "We...all have our rough starts around here, you're not the only one who's felt a bit useless during the beginning...I know I've had my share..." She remarked, hoping to reassure the young woman. Lish then offered to buy drinks for the players who gathered. "Ah, don't worry about me, I can handle paying for my own refreshments, save your col! I'm not really that much of a drinker anyway." Astralin replied with a comforting smile. "Doesn't mean I won't join you guys in a nice conversation though, it would be nice to make another friend, anyway!"

@Lishuu @Koga

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"Eh, save your money. I'll buy own drinks, don't worry about it. I can answer whatever questions you have," Koga said to the newest newcomer with a smile. Inside, two different Koga's were battling it out with fisticuffs. In the end, pragmatic Koga won. He needed to get out and make some more friends. He hadn't let himself have any fun since it happened. If anything, it would be good for the man's mental health.

"I know a good place not too far from here if you guys wanna go?" he offered up. Good cheap food and drink, and warm beds for those who didn't have homes yet. Koga realized he had a lot of fond memories in that little establishment. "It's not too far away. Plus, their ale tastes like root beer...on second thought...it probably is root beer, but whatever." It wasn't like it mattered. They couldn't get drunk no matter how hard they tried.

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"Ohh, root beer!" Lish exclaimed before all else. She became enamored of the American beverage during her study abroad, and it quickly became her go to beverage. Unlike most of the girls back home, she wasn't quite so fond of booze. "I like that idea, let's go there."

She decided to follow Koga toward the aforementioned 'place,' especially given that the others were likely to go along with it. Astralin seemed eager to make friends, and the other guy who hadn't named himself yet was interested in more information about Koga's trade. It was perfect. They all had very valid reasons to continue. Mutually beneficial relationships between peers often led to longer term situations, and Lishuu was just as eager to have a support system in Aincrad as Astralin seemed to be.

"Honestly, I'm so glad you feel that way!" she practically beamed to the other girl when she responded. "It's been really difficult for me to make friends around here because everyone busies themselves with quests and things that I'm not strong enough to do. I've spent some time talking to the children around and exploring the city, it's to the point where I generally know where things are..." the bluenette coughed softly. There were some things better left unsaid; but it was good that Astralin preferred to pay for herself because Lish didn't really have much in the way of income. "...but it can be pretty repetitive, going the same places and seeing the same thing for years on end, you know? I'm not really excited to be here anymore." She gave an awkward chuckle. None of them were all that enthusiastic, really. She just said what came to mind, though, and she stood by it. That was genuinely how she felt.

"What about you?" she asked, turning her attention to Sketch. "My name's Lishuu, but you can call me Lish if you'd prefer. What's yours?"

Edited by Lishuu
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Thankfully, his interjection did not end in rejection. Sketch nodded toward Koga.

Thanks,” Sketch replied quickly. The two girls exchanged a few words and Sketch directed his attention to the blonde with a raised brow.

He diverted back toward Lishuu’s excitement toward root beer. As a group, they moved to the location with Koga at the point. As they walked, the blunette elaborated more of her personal story to the blonde. They seemed to be getting along. Sketch picked up a few pieces of interesting information. Much like himself, Lishuu lacked experience outside the city walls. Given the location, it was commonplace but the tone in which she spoke it implied a sort of emptiness. An emptiness he sympathized with.

Then, she turned her attention toward him.

Me?” Sketch ran a hand up the back of his wavy, long hair. “Well, I know what you mean about this place. I’ve spent two years here sort of adjusting to the... ‘new normal’. The problem with normal is it gets boring, especially when all the really fine intricacies are just a shortcut away.

Sketch adverted his eyes toward Koga’s back.

I’m looking to break out of my comfort zone and get involved. Civilian life has run its course.

His hand came to rest on the leather knife holster strapped to the back of his waist. A flutter of either excitement or anxiety welled in his chest at the thought. Memories of the topside played a rustic slideshow in his mind like the magic pictures of old. There were things he missed but also things he didn’t. He couldn’t help but wonder what new memories and experiences awaited out there in the thick of combat.

Snapping out of his moment of reflection, he turned his gaze back to Lishuu. A faint smile involuntarily formed at the edge of his lips.

Nice to meet you Lish. My tag here is SketchSkirmish. Feel free to just call me Sketch.” The brunette looked up and over Lishuu to the blonde opposite of her. “Nice to meet you too, miss...?

@Koga @Lishuu @Astralin 

Edited by SketchSkirmish
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Koga said that he knew of a good place, and it would seem they had root beer there, too. Lish seemed to love the idea, and Astralin had to agree. "Root beer is the best beer, I'm in." She decided. 

Lish seemed happy that Astralin wanted to make friends, and she explained a bit about her past... "I know that feel right there. I might not have seen everything that this settlement has to offer, but it doesn't change the fact that us late bloomers know more about this town than those who left before us when starting out. Honestly, finances are a nightmare when you can hardly earn anything..." Astralin commented. Lish admitted that she wasn't really excited to be here in the Town of Beginnings anymore, followed by an awkward chuckle. Astralin chuckled as well. "None of us are excited about this town anymore. The only new things to find come from an occasional player setting up shop around here. Strangely, one of the shady corners around here is home to several player shops...I really don't understand why, though..." She added.

Lish would introduce herself to the other man as Lishuu, but said he could call her Lish if he preferred. Ah, so it was a nickname, and a cute one, too. The man would introduce himself by a confirmed username, and then then ask for Astralin's name. "I go by Astralin around here, but that hasn't gotten any nicknames just yet. I'm not sure if my real name could have one either, but it's not like anyone can easily guess what it is without a hint, or without knowing me from reality, that is." She answered. 

@Koga @Lishuu @SketchSkirmish

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Koga listened in to the conversations going on behind him while he lead the way to the tavern. It was good to know that he was the only alcoholic among the four of them. Well, as much of an alcoholic as one could be in a world where the words 'alcohol', 'drunk' and 'inebriated' might as well not exist.

The chit chat was...and odd experience, however. It had been a long time since Koga had been surrounded by so many people. He'd always been comfortable in his solitude, but the last year or so, he'd become so accustomed to being on his own, it had taken him a while to adjust to interacting with just one other person. Thankfully, NIGHT had been patient with him. And Yuki was in the same boat that he was, so living together had proven to be mutually beneficial.

This on the other hand, it was a little bit of shock. Not an unwelcome one however. At least he was with two people he could consider acquaintances, if not yet friends. And Sketch, as he called himself, didn't seem to be too bad.

"This is it," Koga said, as they approached the quaint building. A wooden sign hung from the front, the name of the place painted on it. 'Small Beginnings'. Fitting for a place on the floor of beginnings. Koga held the door open for the small gathering, and as they stepped inside they'd be greeted by a warm, cheery, but surprisingly calm atmosphere. The place was mostly empty, save for the NPC servers and the lone bartender, as well as a few other players. They were all free to take a seat wherever they so desired.


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"There she is, get her!"

"Damn it."

Always those three. Ever since Princess tipped them off, they'd been chasing Dazia all around Aincrad. Dazia knew that in the Town of Beginnings, one easy way to escape from sight was among other players and NPCs. She traveled from crowd to crowd, then found a secure but temporary hiding spot as to swap her attire from combat gear to some casual, black clothing, hoping to throw them off her trail. She then quickly darted away, seeking some more helpful shelter until she could assure herself that the three who were chasing her gave up again.

She soon saw someone opening up a door to a tavern for others, maybe she could hide inside...

She quickly rushed into the building, and then she found a table in one of the tavern's darker corners. She went under the table and holed herself up there in the shadowed area below this corner table, while some of the others around might be a bit confused...chances were, someone who the player at the entrance was holding the door open for might have seen her, and might be willing to track her down in here...

She hoped that wouldn't happen.

ID# 183468 LD: 18

-Dazia has entered stealth and requires a roll of 18 or higher to be found.

Edited by Dazia
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Everyone seemed to be in agreement. The life in this Town quickly became a gray that neither got darker or lighter with time, but instead sucked in all those too transient to leave it. There were people in this world who had grown accustomed to routine, no different from their daily lives on the outside. It was interesting to her, fascinating even to see how the social hierarchy asserted itself, even with the lack of a proper system to direct it. The evolution of mankind truly was as acute as it was chronic. 

"Sketch," she smiled, "and Astralin. It's good to meet you both. I do hope we'll all see more of each other."

She was never sure with people in SAO, some came back and others left for long periods of time. There were even a few she hadn't seen again. She didn't bother to go look over the monument and check for their names; because that honestly seemed a morbid habit to get into, and she wasn't interested in developing that particular affliction.

When Koga stopped and declared that they'd found the place, she appraised it with a sage nod. "Quaint," she smirked, which quickly grew into a smile. "Homely, even. This is my kind of place! Excellent choice, Koga."

It was always nice to find a smaller, out of the way place to settle down. Mostly, she found the crowded places in "good" locations were staging grounds for fights and the sleaziest sorts of people who wanted to flaunt their attitudes out in the open. That was what befell Chad and Virgil after all..

"Shall we?"

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 ID# 183534 results: Battle: 9 Craft: 5 Loot: 19 MOB: 1

Stranger detected. @Dazia

"Well, nice to meet you Astralain," he replied.

'So casual to flaunt the idea of her real name...' He thought. Then again, several of those too mortified to leave the real city exchanged real names in a desperate attempt to cling onto that reality which now felt like a dream to him. Sketch preferred the illusion of privacy. Maybe one day, he would confide in another.

When they arrived, Sketch eyeballed the establishment. In his years in the Town of Beginnings, he had to admit he didn't recognize the joint. Given the size of the first city, this came as little surprise. Still, the fact it served something similar to root beer and he hadn't heard mention of it on the street was a bit of a shock. Oh well.

He stepped inside its humble interior and sparse patrons and let the edges of his mouth form a grin.

"Not a bad little joint," the brunette commented out loud.

As he ventured further in, a bit of sudden movement caught his eye. Sketch continued toward one of the central tables casually, but his attention focused on his periphery. A woman, clothed in dark clothes tucked herself into the far corner where the light form the alley facing window struggled to reach. For a moment, she nearly slipped from view, but Sketch's keen senses picked up the faint outline beneath the table.

'Hmmm...' he pondered with great interest.

Sketch turned his back to where the girl hid and pulled a trio of chairs out from the central table, one for each of his new female acquaintances. Instead of picking the central seat, he opted for one on the end both for courtesy and the slight angle it gave him to keep this stranger in his peripheral sight.

"I'm going to be honest," Sketch began as though nothing were amiss. "It's been some time since I've had a proper drink. I wonder if this place sells anything flavored like the a single malt islay."

He tilted back in his chair and interlocked his hands between his head of wavy, long hair.

"Doubt it though. Maybe on the higher floors..."

@Lishuu @Koga @Dazia @Astralin

Edited by SketchSkirmish
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