July 9, 2023. Floor 20.

Kyou Komoto:

My footsteps were getting louder every minute that passed. Soon, I thought, I'll be able to lay in bed and sleep to my heart's content. The wind swept in brown leaves that fell from their branches, rolling across the desert-like ground. It's strange that I've never noticed this before, after walking here countless times, but the grass that grows here is such a dark green it resembles seaweed and the blades grow in individual patches so far from one another. The dirt was such a light color, flaunting its dry and malnourished state off, and frankly the trees were some sort of off-gray. I suddenly feel so cliché; I guess you can call me a 'bad guy' but to have a community of orange-players in such an ominous place seems a bit distasteful. I actually shrugged. Who cares? It's just a base, probably temporary who knows.

Mountains were visible now. Their snow-caps acted like beacons in a gray wasteland. I hate that we have to hide so far out here, that we can't just pick somewhere maybe even a little closer. My legs protested with every step I took, but I endured it, knowing I could rest all I want within the next five minutes. The trees around me began to look more familiar, and hills and mounds of dirt were becoming more common to see. I could see not too far in the distance, shrouded in an eerie-but-not-really mist was a building that looked poorly put together, but fairly large in size. Home, I thought. A relieved sigh heaved heavy from my artificial lungs. I walked through the entrance, a flag that read "Gray n' Waste" 'temporarily' substituting for a door, and was immediately greeted by a manly voice.

"Ah, Kyou-san! How did it go?" The deep monotone voice belonged to a man that went by the name Horn. Horn was undoubtedly the strongest looking man I've seen in this game so far. His veins surfaced on his skin and his sleeves couldn't fit his large arms very well. He had a Nordic look to him, was bearded and had a jawline more define than mathematics.

"Horn-san I hope you're not disappointed but I'm only coming back with enough Col to maybe feed four mouths for, at most, two days," I delivered the bad news with a plain face paired with a plain tone. Horn grunted sympathetically.

"Well come in, boy," he commanded, "We've made some changes," he smiled excitedly at me but his smile wasn't anything to marvel at, because it was missing a number of (what I imagine are) important teeth. Horn knocked on a large wooden door that sealed off most of the house. I could feel his knocks beat in my chest, and couldn't help but imagine what it must feel like the be punched by such a magnum fist. The large wooden door suddenly flung open and a skinny man who I did not recognize immediately smiled upon laying eyes on me.

"You must be Kyou-san!" I nodded. "Good, good, welcome home boy."

A smile made way to my face. Home. A man I didn't even know acknowledged me as family, as if he was worried about me while I was away, as if he cared for my safety. "Anyway," the skinny man began, "Take a look around, we've been..." he scratched his chin, "...renovating."

I looked around the newly decorated room and admired its homey feeling. The walls had torches evenly spaced out, symmetrically placed on either wall, with a great torch resting over the doorway. I felt Horn's giant fingers grip my shoulder. "I built the table myself!" he said proudly. The table was long and rectangular, taking up a fair amount of room. There were two dozen places to sit on each side, and at the heads of the table sat two throne-like chairs. The floor wasn't exactly something special, just patted down dirt, but patted down to the point that it felt more like carpet than dirt, which was good. There were goblin heads mounted randomly about the walls, which made me wonder how you'd get one of those since monsters disappear when you kill them, but I digress. The skinny man who I had met earlier bowed and began to introduce himself.

"I go by the name Elker. It's a pleasure to meet you."

"You know already, but my name is Kyou. You're welcomed to call me Boy, as Horn-san does."

We shook hands and Horn showed me to my personal. Although the house was recently redecorated, it still lacked walls. As a way to compensate, wolf hides were hung like drapes from bed to bed. My 'room' was about two by three meters, bare bone to say the least. Above the bed was a simple drawer that had about twelve slots for clothes, weapons, and non-perishable items. Horn's obvious presence made itself known once again by his thunderous footsteps.

"No one but you, or whoever the owner is, knows the access code to open that drawer there," he pointed at it as if he needed to clarify, "Only people you tell will know it. I'm the original owner, since I made it with my bare hands," he held them up as if he needed to make sure I knew what his hands were, "but I can pass ownership down to you." Horn opened his menu, selected a number of things, and as a result a window opened infront of me. It read 'Do you, Kyou Komoto, hereby accept the transaction being offered to you?'. There were three options, 'Yes', 'No', and 'Details'. I stamped my finger on 'Yes', and the window closed. "Congrats on your new room, lad!" Horn smiled at me like a parent would at a child bringing home a good test grade.

"But Horn-san," I looked at him with a false sense of worry, "I don't know if I can handle the responsibility!"

His eyebrows furrowed and nose wrinkled. "C'mon, Boy, don't worry. I'll look after it while you're out," he sincerely pledged.

I couldn't help but smile at Horn's seriousness. He gripped my arms and told me about his daily adventure he had hunting, making his quest seem much more fantastic than it probably was. While he exaggerated about wrestling a griffon twice his level, exhaustion suddenly hit me, and I involuntarily fell to the stiff bed. Horn finished his story, then left without warning, leaving me to rest.

The large front entrance swung open, and by the sound of it three men had just returned from hunting. They clanked their steel weapons against each others and swore with every few words. A deeper and stronger voice rang over the others. "Shut yer' goddam mouths, the boy's sleeping!". The men sincerely apologized, and immediately after the room was engulfed in a sudden silence. I bid them goodnight from behind the pelts, and rolled over closing my eyes.