Set just after the second time Prince meets Kenshin
I had to raise Kenshin's comprehension level. ____ Really. I couldn't write him with 0 level. Though it made me realise just how much I make characters think.
By Dark Ice Dragon
Prince hugged Meatbun close before handing her over to Kenshin. He looked down at the bun, unsure of what Prince wanted him to do. Did he want him to hug her as well?
Meatbun looked up at him with wide eyes.
"Goodbye, Meatbun," Prince said tearfully. "I'll be back soon, okay?"
"'Kay!" Meatbun said, beaming. Where was Prince going?
"Kenshin?" Prince was looking at him, frowning and his eyebrows a little drawn. "What is it?"
Prince scratched the corner of his mouth. "Well, kind of. I'm..." Prince's eyes widened as far as they could go. "Oh. I'm logging out."
Logging out. He'd heard that phrase before, from other players, but he'd never understood it. All he knew was that it made the players more reckless than others, leaving themselves even more open than usual.
Prince was studying his face. "You know how I'm a player?" he asked, hesitantly.
"When I'm not playing, I 'log out' and I'm... not here anymore." Prince's arms were down at his side, not moving animatedly like they had been for the last few hours.
Kenshin nodded again. So that was what it meant. "I'll look after Meatbun until you return."
Prince gaped at him and it was a few seconds before he spoke. "I - uh, thanks."
He raised an eyebrow. Wasn't that the reason why Prince had given her to him?
"It's..." Prince shook his head. "You made me realise something." He glanced at something over Kenshin's shoulder. He didn't look surprised so Kenshin didn't turn to look - he was beginning to figure out whether a look was one for approaching danger or if Prince was seeing something only players could see. "I've really got to go now!" Prince waved his hand side to side. "I'll see you later."
He mimicked him and then Prince disappeared. There was no accompanying bolt of light, and no monster was near them, so he hadn't died.
Kenshin frowned. Was he supposed to wait right here for Prince to return, or would Prince come back where he was? If it was the second option, they would save time getting to Sunshine, but if not, it would waste it.
"Meatbun?" The bun turned to stare up at him. "Does Prince come back where he... logged out?"
Meatbun tilted her head to the side. "Meatbun-bun doesn't know. Meatbun waits until mama comes back. Sometimes, when mama comes back, Meatbun-bun is in mama's bag."
Hmm. Hopefully that wouldn't happen to him. "How long is he usually away?"
She blinked at him. "Mama is away until mama comes back."
He'd just stay where he was.
* * *
There was something moving behind him, shuffling around slowly. Kenshin placed his hand lightly on the hilt of his sword, just in case. Most monsters didn't attack him, but there were a few that sometimes did. He wasn't sure if it was because the monsters mistook him for a player, or if they were programmed to attack him.
"Ken-Ken?" Kenshin looked down, confused by the change of his name. The shuffling stopped. "Meatbun's hungry."
He stared blankly at her. What did she eat?
There was a low growl that turned into a snarl. Pivoting, he saw a two-headed dog charging towards them. In three bounds it was on them; in one slash, it was dead.
He flicked the blood off the blade before sheathing it. "What do you eat?" he asked.
"Meatbun eats meat buns!" She smiled at him.
...That wasn't something he could make out here. The closest town was about an hour away. He glanced down at the bun, who was still smiling, and then to the direction the town was in. Two hours wasn't long.
Kenshin picked up the bun and started walking.
* * *
"Hi!" the NPC chirped, smiling as she held the pad of paper in her hand. "What would you like?"
There was a pause and the smile wavered a little bit. "How many?"
Kenshin looked at Meatbun. "Fifteen!"
"Fifteen," he repeated.
She wrote it down. "Okay." The book snapped shut. "I'll come back with them shortly." She turned, her skirt swishing, and left.
Kenshin studied the people around them, curious to see what they were doing; barring Prince, he hadn't had much interaction with players unless they were trying to kill him. There were a few couples eating opposite of each other, but there were also teams, laughing and chatting loudly. From the little he'd seen, Prince was treating him just like another player.
"Here we go." The woman was back, holding a steaming plate of meat buns. "Enjoy your meal."
Meatbun was already on the plate, devouring three in between one second and the next. A couple of seconds later, they were all gone.
"Full now!" Meatbun hopped over and jumped onto his shoulder. Now that that was done, Kenshin left the building.
Or tried to.
"Excuse me sir, you haven't paid yet." It was the same woman as before, with four men flanking her. She wasn't smiling anymore, her mouth a thin line.
He didn't know what that was so he ignored her. When he turned, he heard the screech of weapons being unsheathed.
These were a little harder than regular monsters – they went down in three swipes of his sword instead of one.
Seeing no other attackers, Kenshin left.
* * *
Kenshin sat on the rock that was the marker for where Prince should log back in. There had been a few more attacks as he left the town, but they had stopped after he had gotten a certain distance away. Meatbun had helped, attacking anyone who had tried to sneak behind him.
They had been there for a while, Meatbun bouncing around the rock he was sitting on, amusing herself when a male human stumbled across them.
The human blinked at them. "Oh, hey. You're on pretty late." He paused, fingers tapping on his staff. "Or is it early?" He shrugged. "Anyway, are you going off soon?"
The player brightened, grinning earnestly. "Wanna work together? There's this quest I'm trying to do, but, well, I'm a priest so it's taking me a while; it's just a gathering quest – I can share it."
Kenshin said nothing, not understanding what the human was saying.
"Oh." The player's face fell. "You're not eligible for it. I guess you're the wrong class, or too low level." He sighed, lightly crossing his arms. "Do you still wanna help or...?"
"Is it far from here?" He didn't know when Prince was coming back, but he could do something in the meantime until he did.
A shake of the head. "Nah. They should be right around here." He looked up and then nodded. "I only need to get five more."
Meatbun hopped up on to Kenshin's knee. "Mama would help."
Kenshin considered it for a few more seconds. There wasn't much else to do... "Okay."
"Sweet!" The player's grin returned, brighter than before. "Thanks for doing this. Oh, yeah." He pointed to himself with his thumb. "I'm Aggro Bait."
"And I'm Meatbun!" She was smiling almost as wide as him. She had also jumped up on to Kenshin's head and was bouncing up and down to try and get a closer look at the priest.
Aggro Bait chuckled. "This is the first time I've seen a meat bun as a pet before." He leaned forward and petted her; Meatbun leaned into his hand, her eyes closed. "I'm pretty sure I saw some over there." Aggro Bait nodded in the direction Kenshin was facing.
He stood up and let Aggro Bait lead the way.
* * *
There was a large nest a few meters away, big enough for him to sit comfortably in if he crossed his legs. It was made of sticks and somehow had grass and other greenery threaded throughout it. In the middle of it was a blue egg that was about two times his hand span.
"That's what I'm supposed to be getting," Aggro Bait whispered next to him, crouched next to a tree. "But they're protected by raptors, usually in pairs."
They hadn't passed by any monsters on the way there, and he couldn't hear anything moving around them, apart from a few birds and a wolf in the distance. Someone had probably been here earlier.
Aggro Bait hummed. "Well, I'm going in." He dusted himself off and started to slowly make his way towards the nest, while Kenshin followed him at his usual pace.
Nothing attacked them.
It was when Aggro Bait was just about to pick up the egg that Kenshin heard a creak above their heads. He had enough time to see shining black claws and a mass of dark red before dodging. What landed in front of him was a snarling two metre tall velociraptor. As soon as it touched the ground it turned and snapped at Aggro Bait. He was able to duck in time and he scrambled to get out of its reach.
While it was distracted, Kenshin struck it down.
"Since when do raptors climb trees?!" Aggro Bait's face was pale, his eyes wide and he was gasping for breath. "But wow," he murmured, "it takes me ages to kill anything; you must have really good equipment." Taking another nervous glance around, this time eyeing the ground warily as well, Aggro Bait picked up the egg and placed it carefully in his bag.
A few minutes later, Aggro Bait yawned widely, bringing his hand up to cover it. "That's that quest over - I'll hand it in when I get back on." He smiled at them. "Thanks for the help you gave me – it's really appreciated." Stifling another yawn, he waved with his other hand, like Prince had before. "I'll see you around." He waited a few seconds, then laughed. "You're really not much of a talker, are you?" He shook his head, mouth still curled in a smile. "Anyway. I'll see ya later." Aggro Bait disappeared right after.
Kenshin made his way back to where Prince should come back.
* * *
"I'm back!" Prince laughed as Meatbun threw herself at him. "I hope you weren't too bored without me."
He shook his head. It had been different compared to what it had been like before he had met Prince.
Prince stopped laughing and blinked at Meatbun. "That's weird; I thought you were lower level than this." His eyes widened. "Eh? Has my reputation always been this low?"
Prince sighed, rubbing his head. "I'm never gonna have a high reputation, am I?" He shook his head. "But I'm wasting time here." Prince turned to Kenshin, smiling. "Let's go."
I know Meatbun is male, but this is set before that reveal, and since Prince calls him her daughter, Kenshin would say 'she'. Let's not get into the he/she pronouns X____X