As a quick reminder
Kirito = Kazuto
Lisbeth = Rika
Leafa = Suguha
Aurain = Ryan
Long time no see
Chapter VIII: Wannabe Hero
I watched the group warily, waiting for them to make their move. It was a varied group, though most of them were wearing basic looking plate armor. The one with the shiniest armor and a large lance made a gesture with his hands, and said some word I couldn't quite make out. The group fanned out and began surrounding me carefully. They were considerably more organized than the other groups. That made me worry even more about fighting them. One of each racial group were clad in robes, the hoods up, and if my experience so far in this mmo was right; they were mages. I licked my dry lips nervously. SAO survior or not, I wasn't going to be able to win this alone. The words to the black smoke illusion spell thrummed in my head. I needed to wait for the perfect moment or the ruse would never work. A bright flash filled the area, ruining my plans immediately. I didn't see any of the visible players cast anything beforehand, so I assumed the worst. Even more people to deal with.
"Hey there buddy!"
A familiar smiling face suddenly appeared in front of me. I groaned out a sigh of relief.
"G-Gamalir!?" I stammered, "W-What are y-you doing here?"
"Saving your ass apparently." He winked at me, a look of glee on his face. I sighed. He was probably SO thrilled to have saved someone who was a hero in his eyes. I was never gonna hear the end of it. Gamalir twirled his bladed staff, the smirk still present on his face. He radiated cockiness in his stance. I sighed again and moved to fight back to back with him. I was grateful for the help, and it spoke wonders that he wasn't brainwashed like the rest. The SAO clear crew's biggest fan had a strong will apparently. Or he was just too stupid to be controlled. Maybe a little of column A and a little of column B. I had no clue how the virus worked. I shrugged and turned to face the line of confused players
"Well two versus eight is better odds than before, so I can't really complain. Thanks for the assist Gamalir."
He nodded, still grinning like an idiot. I didn't know how he could grin in this situation. I crouched slightly, awaiting the next assault from the group of Sylvans and Salamanders.
I didn't have to wait long.
Their leader barked out a command, and the entire group charged us at once, minus the mages. They stood back and began chanting spells. I got the chance to breathe out one last calming breath before all hell broke loose. A Sylph made it to me first, wielding a katana in both hands. He jumped slightly into the air, and brought his sword down toward my head. I swung up my arms, my cloak whipping to the side. His sword and my claw met with a clang, sending sparks everywhere. I grunted slightly, before slamming my shoulder into his chest. That sent him sprawling backwards into another Sylph. I turned to the third one that I barely caught in the corner of my eye. He stabbed his spear at me, but I managed to get my claws up in time. It slid off them with a horrific screeching, before landing a glancing blow on my shoulder. I ducked down and promptly shoved my claws in his chest. I pulled up, dragging them through his body until it disappeared into particles. The fight was going good so far.
I turned to face the two I'd left in a pile on the ground only to have a fireball slam into my face. I was sent skidding backwards on my back, watchig my health bar drain into the yellow. I landed next to Gamalir, a disgruntled look on my face.
"Going about as well for you as it is for me?" He asked cheerfully.
Despite the situation, I let out a small, somewhat bitter chuckle, "Just about yeah."
We both got to our feet in time to dive to the side as more magic pelted the area we were just standing at. There were only five players left. One salamander warrior, the leader, the Salamander mage, the one Sylph warrior, and the Sylph mage. I wondered what happened to the Sylph I threw into his friend. I couldn't have possibly thrown him so hard he died. My strength wasn't nearly high enough. Maybe he landed on his friend's sword or something. I ducked another fireball, only to have wind blades slam into my side, sending my hp even further. I was getting dangerously close to red, and the fight was barely halfway over. I chugged a potion in my inventory and kept on running, dodging spells and weapons. Occasionally I was forced to block, but my good old muscle memory from SAO made me a slippery guy.
I bent backwards and managed to deflect a sword heading for my back. I yelled my thanks to my temporary partner raked my claws across the sneaky Sylph's chest before kicking him away with a grunt. I dodged away from another spell and found myself back to back with Gamalir again. The two of us sheltered behind a rock.
"This is kinda fun!" He gasped in between heavy breaths, "Hard, but fun."
"If you s-say so." I gasped back, "Do you know the dark mist spell?"
"'Course. I learned it from a Spriggan pal of mine."
"I want you to cast it so I can get to the mages. They're making life hell for us."
He nodded and I chugged another potion. Gamalir dashed out of cover and muttered the incantation I'd used only a few hours prior. A dark cloud billowed out from him and enveloped the area. My eyes glowed slightly as my natural night vision due to being a Spriggan activated. The combination was a tad op.
I scanned back and forth in the darkness. My eyes locked on to the smallest shape in the back of the larger shapes. That'd be the mage most likely. I rushed forward, dodging inbetween the frames of the other players, before slamming into the mage claws first, sending us tumbling out of the black cloud. It was the Salamander mage. We rolled across the sandy ground for a bit, before he turned into particles like the rest. ALO players were so fragile. I was only alive because I'd avoided mortal blows so far.
I rolled one more time, before digging my feet into the ground and stopping myself. I looked up and gulped. Both Salamander warriors left alive were almost on top of me, charging at me full speed with lances. I sprouted my wings and pushed off from the ground. I shot underneath the surprised pair and went straight for the other mage. He tried stammering out another spell as I shot towards him, but fumbled so hard it blew up in his face, knocking him over. I slammed on the brakes and landed on top of him. I stabbed him in the chest with both claws, turning him into particles.
'Shouldn't be too many remaining.' I scrambled to my feet, mentally counting how many We'd taken out.
Gamalir landed next to me, still breathing hard.
"I took out the other Sylph. Only those two Salamanders are left. Pretty nice odds now eh?"
His smile was so infectious I couldn't help but smile back, despite the situation. He was growing on me.
"Yeah... you got the one on the left?"
"Only if you've got the one on the right."
I shot towards the leader, sandy dust kicking up behind me in my wake. He raised his lance and crouched. I feinted top, before going low. He didn't fall for it. His massive lance completely blocked my claws, sending sparks flying as the two met. He grunted and shoved back. He overpowered me in a second, slamming the side of the lance into my stomach, and sending me tumbling backwards.
"A strength type huh..." I righted myself midair and hovered just off the ground. I paused for a moment, before charging in again. This time I didn't even try to take on the Salamander on directly. I ducked inside his guard, using my speed to sidestep his lance as he tried to impale me with it. The big man took a half step back with a surprisingly amount of agility and managed to get his large shield in front of my claws. I spun quickly to the right and managed to land a solid hit on his exposed arm. He grunted in pain and jumped back from me. All I could hear was my heartbeat pound as I chased after him. He stumbled and fell. I pounced and killed him swiftly and mercifully.
I flopped down on the ground, "You done Gamalir?" my adrenaline was rapidly fading and I felt woozy.
"Yeah" He called back from a few feet away, hovering in the air
"We need to move." I gasped out, "More people could show up at any time. You know any good hiding places?
Gamalir touched down next to me, his green wings disappearing.
"I found a hidden zone a few weeks ago I don't think anyone else knows about. We can go there. So... what kind of trouble are you in this time?"
"I'll explain the whole situation on the way."
Gamalir nodded rapidly and took to the skies. I shot after him, our path taking us toward the mountain range that surrounded Arun and the land near it. Gamalir didn't keep his mouth shut for long, despite the situation.
"You know you look pretty cool when you're in moment. I didn't think much of you when I met you, even though I still respected you as a hero. But wow when you get into it you become a whole nother person. All fierce and leaderlike. Reminded me a lot of a shounen hero."
I choked, my face turning bright red at the complements. I coughed several times to regain my composure, "T-thanks!"
"You're welcome!" He grinned widely at me over his shoulder.
That was the moment where I thought, maybe Gamalir wasn't so bad after all.
"So. Most of the server are bloodthirsty zombies after you and Kirito's blood? And this is all due to you guys getting involved in the GM's business again."
"Not on purpose." I grumbled, relaxing up against the rock. It was nice to feel somewhat safe in the the hidden zone, if only temporarily. "He's holding Asuna hostage." I rolled my eyes when his smirk got even wider, "What?"
"You have a penchant for trouble don't you?"
"N-NO!" I protested, "I try to a-avoid it as much as possible. I don't ever want you and Rika to meet each other, she gives me enough crap about that as is."
He gave me a confused looks, "Rika?"
"Sorry. Lisbeth. Rika is her irl name, she's my girlfriend so I've gotten used to calling her by her normal name."
"Ah. I want in."
I stared at him flabbergasted. Was he mad? The entire server was out for I and Kirito's blood and he wanted in?
"Look. You remember all that stuff we talked about in Arun? You know about the people taking the game too seriously? I think this business with the GM is connected."
A lightbulb lit up in my head. Of course. There must be some kind of code built into the game to slowly corrupt someone's mind to the point where they act differently. Said corruption could be used to take control, which was how Sugou was making players attack me. Gamalir wasn't affected though. Which meant that some people were strong enough to resist or had some kind of incompatibility with the code. My respect for him went up again. This confirmed my thoughts from earlier. What a sick bastard. Was this VRMMO some kind of giant experiment to him? What he was using wasn't a "virus" at all, it was a full on immoral mind control program. It made a perfect sense what with how the NerveGear/AmuSphere tapped into a person's brain. I groaned internally. We were in way over our heads.
"I think you're right." I replied finally, "If this is all connected, Sugou has a lot more to answer for than a simple kidnapping."
"There's your true personality popping up again." Gamalir looked at me amusedly, "When you're concentrated on something you turn into a totally different person."
My face flushed and I denied it emphatically. Gamalir just laughed. I never wanted him and Klein in the same room. Ever. I grumbled and pulled up my chat menu again. Time to see if Kirito was okay. Hopefully he was someplace safe like I was. I pulled up the chat window and called him.
"Your day going as well as mine is?" Kirito appeared to be flying as fast as he could. I could see Lisbeth with him. The fact that she was safe made me sag in relief.
"Hah. Just about." I replied, "Though thanks to a friend of mine I've managed to get to a safe place for now. I'm gonna send you the coordinates so you can meet us here. We've got planning to do right?"
"Tell Rika I love her buddy. Take c-care of her alright?"
"Nobody will harm a hair on her head. Don't worry."
Kirito closed the window. I looked at Lisbeth's name on my friends list, my finger hovering over the call button. No. She needed to concentrate.
"So now we wait? Gamalir sighed next to me.
He sighed again. "I hate waiting."
"I'm not at all surprised that you do." I muttered
Apologies in advance for anything OOC or poorly written. I haven't written Aurain or this story in ages. Gonna take a bit to get back into the flow. I had to refresh myself on my own plot haha.