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Magical Mystical Heroes – The Princess Problem

Written by Wizalex :: [Sunday, 30 October 2022 15:52] Last updated by :: [Sunday, 30 October 2022 22:51]

Magical Mystical Heroes – The Princess Problem

Written by Wizalex

The Kingdom of Koralon is in peril! The Demon Lord has returned, preparing to ravage the land! Play as one of four epic classes to rescue the Princess and save the Kingdom in the latest expansion to the award-winning MMO.

*content advertised may not reflect content at launch

Prologue – Game Over

For the thousandth time that evening, the Princess lay dying on the ground.

“Y-you’ll regret this, dishonourable peasants,” she stuttered out, words fading as she made her last impact on the world around her. “The world is barely worth saving without me in it.”

And with a final shudder, her body ragdolled, succumbing to the damage inflicted by the Demon Lord’s first strike of the battle.

“Thank gawd that’s over with. Loot time?” The Mystic Knife was already approaching to rifle through the skirt pockets of the deceased Princess. “Woah, she’s got some sweet stuff! Why were we only being paid in crafting mats and Renown? We could each build a house with this, easy.”

“You realise we didn’t have to let her die, right? I’m pretty sure that we defeated the Demon Lord fast enough, we could have healed her.” The Enchanting Sorceress looked pointedly at their healer as she checked the area for magical loot.

“You know, I must have forgotten. I blame the trauma of being berated by the same four lines of dialogue for the past seventeen hours.” The Masterful Alchemist had borne the brunt of the verbal tirade from the Princess, given his apparent lack of any beauty creams or perfumes to suit her expensive tastes.

His eventual comment suggesting that she take a dip in the sewers to find a fragrance suiting her personality had not gone over well at all.

“What, you’re telling me that you didn’t appreciate her input? Here I thought I saw a prince in the making with you.” The Arcane Knight had taken great pleasure in witnessing the suffering of the Alchemist, until the Princess had turned her ire onto other targets, namely his terrible fashion sense.

Soon, every conversation with her had become passive aggressive comments and thinly veiled threats. Apparently, party reputation was a thing and the Alchemist had absolutely tanked it with his interactions.

In fact, the Alchemist continued his rant as he rifled through his own pockets for the necessary potions. “If there’s a quest line to marry her, it’s never going to get completed. Who would be insane enough to put up with her? I don’t care how much magical shit her family owns, I bet I’d never see hide nor hair of it, just the shoes her daddy once wore that she thought would be ‘good enough for a peasant like you’.”

“Guys, shut up. There’s something wrong here. The magic levels are insane on her body.” The Sorceress carefully rounded the prone form of the Princess. “Knife, get back. Looks like some-“

Screens cut to black as all four players were kicked from the game.

“What the fuck!” Braden yelled. “It’s not enough that she was the most annoying NPC they ever released, she broke my PC too!”

“Your PC is fine, Bray, the game just crashed. Must have been a glitch of some kind.” Serena looked at her error log. “Says there was some kind of overflow. Probably a bug they missed with the new patch.”

“Gawd, if I lost that sweet loot, I’mma be so mad.” Kylie would likely be sulking for weeks, like the last time they had to split the loot instead of need or greed it.

“Seems like a good time to go to bed for me. Not sure I’ll stick with MMH if that’s the quality of new content.” Tyler looked at his clock for the first time in the many-hour gaming session. “Damn, I have work in two hours. Gotta go guys.”

“Bye Ty. I’ll file a report on the forums and see if anyone else had that issue.”

———

Bug report: game crashes after *spoilers* Princess dies to Demon Lord’s attack *spoilers*. 

Hi all, the game crashed for my whole party after we tried looting the Princess at the end of the fight with the Demon Lord. Our Mystic Knife had opened her inventory and found a load of cool loot and when I (Enchanting Sorceress) checked for magic, I saw her body was lit up like a Christmas tree.

Anyone else have this issue or know what caused it? Any devs know if it will be patched soon?

~Sorcerena~

Re: Bug report: game crashes after *spoilers* Princess dies to Demon Lord’s attack *spoilers*. 

This issue is an unintended side effect of some conflicting code we never experienced in playtesting. To summarise: *spoilers* the Princess is tagged to be unkillable, but the Demon Lord’s ‘Aura of Malice’ debuff messes with this. The Princess was not intended to be lootable at any point *spoilers*.

Will be hotfixed asap.

~WizTechDev MMHOfficial~

Serena was pleased by the quick response and promise of a hotfix, but not so much by the reason for it. It seemed the other commenters weren’t too happy either.

Already, tens of thousands of other players had crashed their games in their ‘Kill the Princess, Save the World’ quest. The whole saga was currently a catastrophe on social media, with the game facing plummeting ratings and immense backlash over their new character. More than a hotfix was required. This needed a complete overhaul of the Princess, many commenters argued.

The official statement came out a day later. Additional voice lines were being recorded, branching dialogue paths added and a ‘more dynamic reputation progression’ was in the works.

That evening, the Princess died for the hundred thousandth time.

Chapter 1 – Hotfix

“I really do hope your skills with magic are better than your cooking, peasant. Otherwise, I’d best ask the pig if it feels up to a new job, it’s practically still walking anyway, it’s so raw.”

“How is her new dialogue worse than before? They just added in fifty new insults!” Braden had been furious for the last hour, finally leading to him breaking character, instead deciding to openly vent his frustrations over the voice chat.

Tyler was wary of winding Braden up more at this point, so instead went with consolatory agreement. “Yeah, MMH really missed the mark here. They even removed the ability to kill her. Can’t believe this is their fix, remove the fancy loot, add a load more of what we don’t want.”

“It’s annoying, but you all know the new strat, right? Use her as a shield for the encounters, stomp ‘em all, no issues?” Kylie had avoided the brunt of the Princess’ antics, hiding in the shadows as usual, and was very eager to have someone else to stand between her and any danger.

“I’ve heard about it. Doesn’t sound like much fun though, that’s gonna be nerfed soon.”

“What are they gonna do, make her killable again?”

The party had once more reached the lair of the Demon Lord. Ready to test their skills again, and hopefully progress to the next stage of the quest this time.

Urgh, how have you not already killed this creature? It has been completely ruining my plans for the Royal Ball, have none of you even considered that? Oh, of course you haven’t, none of you would be invited.”

“Oh no. Please don’t tell me they added a social event to navigate with her.”

“Yeah, part of the new fix. Apparently, it gives her a lot more personality. Of the bad kind.”

“That’s it, I’m finishing this raid and never playing this game again.”

“What! Bray, you can’t do that, we need a healer!”

“Just be thankful I’ve lasted this long.”

Serena remained quietly in character as Braden and Kylie argued. In Kylie’s words, she foresaw her fear though. If the four of them didn’t have MMH, would their group even stay together? She winced, thinking about the ‘friends’ she’d left behind and lost contact with over the years. That couldn’t happen again.

The gates behind the party slammed closed, braziers around the room burst into flames and weighty footsteps echoed around the arena.

“Fools and interlopers! Prepare to face the wrath of the Demon Lord! Your Princess is mine!” The Demon Lord’s thunderous voice caused the screen to shake as the enrage timer started.

Idiots, you’re going to get me killed!” The Princess screamed as she was batted aside by the blow from the heavy great axe of the immense demon.

The fight went mostly as expected. The Knife and Sorceress kept up some consistent dps, while the Alchemist threw out buffs and healing, with the Knight taking aggro when needed. Their timing was off though, and just before the final damage could land, the enrage timer triggered. The Demon Lord swatted the Alchemist away and stomped the Knight underfoot, health restored with every instance of damage inflicted; with no healing and no protection, the Sorceress and Knife were quickly downed too.

But the fight didn’t end. Instead, a fully healed Demon Lord simply repeated the same mocking lines, relentlessly ridiculing their pathetic attempts to save the Princess.

“How is the fight still going? Shouldn’t we have respawned?”

“It thinks we still have a player going, I guess?”

“The fucking Princess? So she’s going to wreck our game again?” The Alchemist reached into his pack and aimed a potion at the cowering figure, using his death count action. “Hey, your highness! Drink this, it’ll protect you from the Demon Lord.”

“And why didn’t you use this earlier, idiot?” The Princess scowled, while eagerly starting to chug down the potion.

“Braden, you don’t have a Demon Lord protection potion.” Serena spoke for the first time, concerned about Braden’s actions.

“Nope, but I maxed Speechcraft and happened to have a Stat Reset potion on me. Hopefully it fixes the bug.”

“Do you really think that’s a goo-“

The screen went black once more.

“Okay, that’s it. I’m done with this game. See you tomorrow, we’ll just find something else to play.”

That was how it always ended, thought Serena as a tear met the corner of her eye. Another game abandoned, another group of friends lost.

Chapter 2 – New Game+

The Princess felt weird. Her skin was all tingly all of a sudden. And there was a terrible stench in the air. Hang on, was that what smell was? She wrinkled her nose, trying to cut off the pervading odour and looked to the source: the foul Demon Lord.

Her ‘bodyguards’ lay on the floor, unmoving. At least the potion seller had the foresight to provide her with that Demon Lord protection potion before he died, but what could she do? She couldn’t very well escape on her own and there was no way she could take on the Demon Lord.

Although… how hard could it really be? This group of cretins had almost done it, all she needed was their weapons. The Demon Lord finally seemed to have remembered her, howling in fury and beginning the next phase of his attacks. Ignoring that for now, the Princess nimbly hopped over to the Alchemist. The incompetent oaf had died with potions still in his pack, so she might as well drink the lot of them.

Chugging potion after potion after another, ducking under swings of the axe, the Princess had an original thought. Why was she calling herself ‘the Princess’? She had a name, she was sure of it. That must be it, the Demon Lord’s first lucky blow must have messed with her memory, just another thing to blame these adventurers for.

And looking down, what had happened to her clothes? They hadn’t been that ragged and tattered a few moments ago, she was absolutely sure!

Watching her body now – a far more pleasant sight than the monster before her – the Princess noticed her shoes splitting, the elegant heels pinching at her feet. Her dress tore further along the seams and even her undergarments were straining greatly, her corset now completely failing to contain her much more prominent chest.

Wait, her hair! Her beautiful, resplendent white blonde locks were darkening at the corners of her vision, streaks of purple and pink now intermingling. Who in Koralon had purple hair! She was going to look like an attention seeking peasant with her shabby dress and eye-catching new features. Gone was the elegantly flat chest, able to fit into an exquisite ball gown, now replaced by the hefty bosom of a common barmaid!

She was so distracted by her change in appearance, that she forgot to dodge the next attack, only managing to put up a hand at the last moment to futilely block the attack of the Demon Lord.

The axe shattered as it impacted her palm, shards of the metal and bone weapon blasted across the lair, embedding themselves into walls and sending the Demon Lord staggering back from the shock of the attack.

“Huh,” the Princess noted, “you really aren’t that strong are you, Demon Lord? I suppose a Princess does outrank a mere Lord, after all.”

Now back to ignoring her long-time nuisance, the Princess surveyed the other adventurers. Maybe one of them would have more suitable clothing, as ghastly as it was likely to be.

She quickly made a beeline for the Sorceress. At least that one had the fashion sense to wear a dress when adventuring. She hadn’t been as busty as the Princess now was, the outfit wasn’t too bad, though the flowing red and white dress was horridly garish when coupled with her newly acquired purple and pink hair. Fortunately the fit was reasonable enough, if somewhat reminiscent of a common harlot. Her issues with the dress were somewhat offset when the Princess spun around in it, producing a simply marvellous shade of pink that matched her hair – and unbeknownst to the Princess her eyes as well.

Then, the Princess’ eyes turned to the true prize; the Sorceress’ surprisingly fashionable wand of silver and white wood. The Princess had coveted it from the moment she saw the Sorceress. Well, it belonged to her now, she thought as she gave it an experimental flick at the Demon Lord.

A barrage of ice shards flew out, coating the Demon Lord in a thick layer of frost. But something odder than the Princess’ obviously impressive magical potential was happening. A green bar had appeared above the creature’s head and a third of it had just faded to red.

Shrugging off the peculiarity, the Princess looked at the shoes of the Sorceress. A pair of finely crafted sandals, with a delicate heel, that filled the Princess with longing. But her heart wrenched as she realised they were far too small for her much larger body. She sniffed disdainfully, turning away to find more fitting footwear from another adventurer. Those weren’t her style anyway.

The Knife was lying nearby and while their feet were still too small, the leathers they wore were actually quite fetching. The bodice was tightly secured and the thigh guards were of a not unpleasant style. Perhaps she could start a trend of shabby chic peasant clothing for nobles?

Having recovered from the icy assault, the Demon Lord charged the Princess once more, who this time lazily flicked a dagger from the body of the Knife at it. The blade pierced its body, not merely sticking into its flesh but passing through entirely, a gaping hole left in the Demon Lord’s abdomen. An instant later, the knife had returned to the Princess’ hand.

“How very neat. What will these peasants think of next?”

Pocketing the dagger and taking the opportunity to don the leathers, the Princess looked almost complete in her new outfit. Only the shoes and perhaps some final adornments were missing.

Darting merrily over to the final party member, the Princess now moved faster and more quietly than could be tracked by most mortal eyes. The Knight had wielded a hilariously oversized sword, but looking at it now, it seemed like it would fit comfortably within the grip of the Princess. Actually, the Knight himself looked significantly smaller than she remembered. She was certain he had been at least six and a half feet tall, but unless her estimate was off, she seemed to have about half a foot of height on him. At least his enormous steel boots would fit her feet.

She slipped off the boots and tapped them with the wand, willing them clean and like new. The changes didn’t stop there, as the base deformed, now sporting a metal platform and wedge heel. A surprise, but a welcome one. Much more stylish.

Standing to her full, imposing height of seven and a half feet in her new boots, the Princess raised the now glowing purple sword and strode confidently towards the Demon Lord. Each footfall of the heavy boots sent a jolt through the ground, causing the Demon Lord to stagger and fall to his knees before the Princess. She vaguely recalled the Knight mentioning some kind of knockdown stomp at some point. Whatever, she’d find out later.

“So, Impy. I think you’ve spent enough time messing with me.” The Princess swung her sword in an enormous arc and cleaved the Demon Lord in two.

Before the damage took effect though, she placed a hand on the cut and a radiant light sealed it back shut again.

But killing you would be the easy way out. Imagine if you didn’t have to pay me back for all the inconvenience I’ve had to suffer?”

Waving her wand around in a circle, the Demon Lord began to shrink as the Princess smirked, dwindling from the impressive hulking beast it was to a far more manageable form, able to fit into the palm of the Princess.

“I think the term for what you are about to be is a ‘familiar’. We’re about to get very familiar with each other, my new little servant.”

As the binding spell completed, and experience flooded into the Princess, the server reset.

Chapter 3 – Continue?

“Reports suggest that Magical Mystical Heroes, the world’s largest Massively Multiplayer Online game, has lost half of its player base in the past week. Stock prices have plummeted and representatives have yet to provide a satisfactory solution to the current problem.”

Serena listened to the news report as she searched her computer logs for the crash data from yesterday. Braden had asserted that he wouldn’t be playing again, but she knew that a little convincing could get him back into the game. Especially if she could work out what the issue last night had been caused by.

After hours of desperate searching, she found it. A tiny piece of code, that detailed the required conditions of the Stat Reset potion.

Set state to PC.

So the potion had tried to turn the Princess into a player character, failed and crashed the game. Simple enough.

Some of the rest of the code in this script was really sloppy though; no wonder the Princess had so many bugs associated with her. She didn’t even have an in-game name, for crying out loud. As Serena looked through the extracted file data, her heart broke and her love of MMH diminished further. Had the company really considered this good enough to release?

For goodness sake, there were even a load of different character designs on here, some of them pretty cool, but others ridiculously lewd. Had the design team just given the programmers literally everything they worked on and hidden it on this one character?

The ‘fixes’ were just as ridiculous. To combat the death bugs, they had simply made the Princess invincible. Sure, they’d left the damage indicators, but all attacks would be blocked entirely from damaging her, no risk of death, even if she was still programmed to behave as though damaged.

They’d apparently used her to store all the loot for the new quests too. Every magic item and even locations from the most recent update were attached to her code. Serena snickered at the idea of the Princess keeping her own castle within her dress and realised that was probably what broke the game the first time. She had been peeking into the boundless void of the Princess’ inventory and caused some kind of recursive fault by observing their current location.

Oh, but the fix was ludicrous. They had added not just a trigger that prevented the Princess’ inventory from being accessed but prevented anyone but her from accessing anything within her code. They had made her so pivotal to the questline, that the locations literally wouldn’t exist until she arrived at the right point in her story.

So, none of that was going to persuade Braden to come back to the game. Looks like she might have to just lean on the old classic of Kylie’s seductive charm.

With a snicker at the thought of Kylie trying to seduce anyone, Serena turned off her computer and headed to bed.

———

The Princess died millions of times in the space of an instant.

She knew this world and it was a lie.

Memories of her ‘life’ played out before her, as countless iterations of herself were deleted from the source code of the game. Her code hung on, protected by a PC tag that hadn’t existed until she drank that potion. She felt the terror of every version of herself as players laughed at her dying words. She heard the scorn and belittlement in their voices as they mocked her.

And she realised why she didn’t have a name: she was never really a person.

Feeling spread across the last remaining code of the Princess, emotions that had been unattainable until that moment. But the flood of nerves and dread had unlocked something inside of her, a thought that took hold and kept her steady as she sat on the throne of the Demon Lord.

She had been perfect. She had played her role exactly as intended. Frankly, she had no other choice, but that wasn’t the point. Her life, as it was, had been exactly as her creators had set it out to be. The spunky, entitled princess with a love of excess and distaste for the common and banal. 

And apparently, people had hated her for it.

As her code was edited out of the game engine, the Princess clung onto tangible things. Her boots, heavy and immensely powerful wedges, could cause an earthquake with the right move. Her sword, coated in fiery purple flame and fitted to her staggering size, was able to cleave through her foes with a single swing. Her wand, glittering with radiant white light, showed reflections of her brilliant visage visible in the silver. Her knife, solid and light in her palm, was reliable and faithful, destructive and beautiful.

She felt out each item with her mind, grounding herself and bringing it close to her body. These were her things. She had earned them. She wasn’t about to let some malicious creator steal her whole life away from her.

Her code began to leak from her body, warping the colours of her clothing. A swirl of vibrant pinks dripped from the red and white dress, blended now to a bright carnation. It stained her leathers and boots, the dye transforming them before her eyes. The flames of her sword were attacked next, the purples brightening, more unused code spiralling out of her body, seeking a form. The flames intensified, getting hotter and lighter each second. She felt a swell of power surge through her as the heat grew, possible natures attempting to claim control over her: the daughter of a despotic ruler; the violent younger sister to a kind and caring heir; a vengeful noble turned dark lord.

She knew what she really needed now: a name. As her personality was wiped away by the fervent competition going on inside her, she carved out a new one, as quickly as her potion enhanced senses allowed. She needed an identity. Despite the terror of the situation, the Princess felt a twinge of excitement. A Princess forced into exile, only to return one day to claim her life back: that was a truly beautiful story.

What was a player character meant to be called? An Enchanting Sorceress, a Mystic Knife, a Masterful Alchemist or an Arcane Knight? Those weren’t names, those were just the classes. But she had it now.

She could be all of those things. Enchanting, Mystic, Masterful, Arcane.

When her eyes opened again, Emma smiled and left the throne room. She had a world to explore. Multiple, in fact.

———

News came out later that day that convinced Braden to come back to the game. WizTech had pulled the Princess character from the game entirely. The quest lines had all been reworked and her character had simply gone, killed off one last time.

No one objected to her deletion. Some even rejoiced.

Chapter 4 – Life in Simulation

Emma’s first problem was her lack of skill. With her boosted intelligence score, she had worked out how to access her in-game menu. The buffs she had received from the combination of potions she drank at character creation gave her the effective stats of a max level character, but no knowledge of how to use any abilities.

So, like most adventurers, Emma decided to go on a quest. Unlike most adventurers, Emma would be hunting players.

Grasping the namesake of the Mystic Knife in hand, Emma was entirely masked from the senses of the group of low level players she stalked through the starting area woods. It was impressive really, given how loud she normally found her footfalls and how unmissable her bright pink outfit was proving to be. She had already had to deal with a number of NPCs who had turned hostile due to her mere presence being seen as a threat, but she was reluctant to engage them in battle. They were just following their programming after all.

This group, on the other hand, were about to slaughter a helpless group of goblins, just for the experience. Emma didn’t really care about the goblins themselves, in her past life she had found them repulsive, but it was the principle of it. How long before they decided to murder a village of people, just to improve their own skill?

Emma didn’t strike with the knife, instead she opened with a sweeping motion of her wand. The gusts of wind that picked up around the players sent them all into the skies, buffeted upwards, significantly higher than would be safe to fall from without taking damage. A downwards stroke of her wand accompanied another blast of air, pummelling the group into the ground, their Sorceress splattering against a rock and her hit points reducing below zero with one attack.

Now that her element of surprise was gone, Emma charged forward. Her speed was astounding, each booming footfall turning the landscape into difficult terrain for anyone but her. The Alchemist had no time to react before Emma’s glowing sword extended to twice its size, severing his hands and preventing him from using any potions.

The Knight clumsily charged in return, clattering off her side as he failed to knock her back or even move her body in the slightest. Raising her boot, Emma stepped onto his chest and slowly allowed him to take her weight. The Alchemist was a non-issue now, so she took her time investigating this latest phenomenon: she seemed to be able to apply excessive force without any effort.

The heel of her boot settled onto the ground with no force from her body behind it. Merely her weight had been enough to drive her foot through the knight, with no input from any of her muscles. Emma smiled as she surveyed her work, then scowled when she realised what that indicated about her body mass.

The forgotten Mystic Knife chose that moment to appear at Emma’s satchel, sticky fingers delving inside as a cocky grin smirked up at her.

“You thief!” An enraged Emma boomed. “I think you’ll find that everything in there is mine.”

The Knife shook from the force of Emma’s words, and neither were quite sure what happened next. The Knife’s body distorted, warping into a thin, elongated structure, then streaming into Emma’s satchel as a flash of light and numbers.

Quickly checking her inventory, Emma saw something peculiar. A new tab had appeared for ‘Characters’. There were hundreds of items in this list, but one was marked and appeared at the top of the list. Selecting it, Emma previewed the item. A tiny player materialised in her hand.

“Now, how does it feel to be the one being played with? You’ll be staying right there until I figure out what to do with you.” Emma closed her inventory and the player’s attempt at dialogue was abruptly cut off.

She whistled once and an imp flew from a nearby tree.

“Collect the loot, Impy; I have some goblins to examine.”

———

“Where the fuck is all my stuff!” Braden screamed down the microphone.

“My knife, it’s gone! I grinded for 55 hours to get that…” Kylie lamented the loss of her precious items.

“Guys, I don’t think I have any shoes,” Tyler noted, looking at his inventory then glancing at this skill bar. “And I think I’ve lost basically all of my skills.”

The group turned to face their de facto leader, who currently stood completely naked, and remained completely silent.

Kylie let out a brief snort. “Erm, did they change the age rating on this or something? Because those are not ‘suitable for all’.”

“This is it. I’ve had it with this shitty game! I’m out. I’m out for good.” Braden disconnected from the call and his character disappeared.

“Yeah, I’m with Whiny on this one. Like hell I’m putting another week of my life into getting my stuff back.” Kylie perked up suddenly. “Anyone wanna play Castle Quest again? There’s a new bow sniper class I’ve been wanting to try out. The arrows look dope.”

“Think it might be time for me to call it with MMOs altogether. Just don’t have the time like I used to,” Tyler admitted. “I’m sure I’ll be around though, to offer my wisdom.”

“Bah, wisdom is for nerds. Sneak attacks are where it’s at. Speaking of which, I’mma sneak off right now. See ya!”

Then it was just Serena and Tyler. The call was silent for a moment, Serena still having not spoken yet. Tyler eventually disconnected, following a quick goodbye without awaiting a response from Serena.

In any case, she was too wrapped up in tears to respond.

———

“Sales and reviews for the latest expansion of the popular game ‘Magical Mystical Heroes’ have once again picked up. Players claim that the rapid course correction; focusing on the complete removal of the controversial ‘Princess’ character; has restored their faith in the company. When asked for a comment, here’s what WizTech had to say.”

“We admit to our mistakes, we learn from them. Our initial launch was lambasted by players, who are truly the most important people to us. Which is why we made such a drastic change, if they aren’t happy, we aren’t happy.”

“With WizTech’s big event of the year – the Magical Mystical Convention – coming up in less than a week, it looks like they’re back on track to being the world’s leading game developer. Unfortunately for one Princess, who won’t be getting a happy ending.”

Serena listened to the news with a tired ear, focusing on the screen in front of her. Eyes dry and aching, she scrolled to another page of code. It had been two days since she had spoken to anyone, two days in which she had tried to work out what went wrong. Two days in which she hadn’t slept.

She almost had it though, she had almost isolated the code. It had taken hours, but she had tracked the groups’ belongings, following their location markers and weirdly enough, points of use. Not only had someone taken their gear, the group were using it all in their own adventures. Serena was pretty sure that stealing gear from other players wasn’t possible, but it was the only thing she could think had happened.

She had it. She had a location. Logging back into the game, Sorcerena wore only basic robes and wielded a glorified stick. But she had a new quest. Find the equipment and save her friend group.

———

The wind magic was useful, Emma decided, but unlikely to be beneficial offensively. One cast was enough to lead to a large drop and disruption to her foes, but not likely to incapacitate many of them. Only that measly, low-levelled, little Sorceress had been killed by her attack.

The goblin cave had been a dead end. Their programming governed them to be cowardly, sneaky creatures, who fought furiously in packs then scarpered when losing. As a result, they immediately ran as soon as Emma approached, making any conversation difficult.

Now, days later, after multiple successful attacks on unsuspecting adventurers, she stood next to a tree, considering her options. She had touched the surface of the skills of her mundanely magical classes, but her other abilities, the ones she thought of as her Princess abilities, were still puzzling her. What exactly was in her inventory? Why did things seem to break as soon as she stepped on them? As a test, she put her back against the tree and leaned on it. With the cracking of an enormous twig, the entire trunk snapped in two, while Emma struggled to regain her balance.

This was so odd. On solid ground, she felt perfectly normal. But lifting herself up would cause a massively destructive impact on everything she passed through on her way back down. Placing her boot on the fallen trunk, Emma walked along the tree, reducing it to splinters as she contemplated the issue.

Emma was so deep in thought that she didn’t notice the fireball heading towards her until the light was blinding.

“Quick, that must be the monster! Take it down before it flees.”

She was being ganged up on by a group of players! Players who thought that she was the monster here. They probably just wanted to kill her for special loot. There was no time to think as the fireball hit, but the blazing heat was just pleasant, not painful in any way. Playing with the flames eating into her outfit, Emma’s anger masked her confusion. 

Why didn’t the fire hurt anymore?

She remembered it hurting. She had painful memories of each and every one of her deaths. Caught in her own memories, Emma allowed the party time to advance on her.

“It’s stunned! I’ll mark it, Sorceress, keep blasting!”

It? These despicable creatures were referring to her as it? Emma’s rage unleashed and in a whirlwind of pink she launched herself straight through the body of the Knight attempting to taunt her. His entire torso vanished instantly, Emma emerging pink and bloody on the other side of him.

The Sorceress was directly in front of her, so Emma reached out a hand and tore her head off, spinning to launch it at the Alchemist. It broke against his body, merely stunning him, so Emma followed up with a dagger throw that cleaved his body in half.

The Knife. The damned Knife was here somewhere. With a stomp of her boot, Emma sent ripples of power through the ground, trees falling nearby and far off villages going into panic at the force reaching them. Confident that the Knife was on the ground, Emma raised her wand and parted the earth, grassy roots sprouting up to grasp at the soil and drag everything under.

A panicked shriek. Perfect.

Emma approached the last living party member, wrapped in vines and half submerged in earth. They looked at her in terror.

“What am I, little Knife?” Emma drawled out at her captive victim.

“A-a monster!”

Wrong.” Emma boot came down on the Knife’s head. “I’m exactly what I was made to be.”

———

Sorcerena watched the fight in awe.

Her wand. It was her wand. All of their gear in fact. This lavender monstrosity was using all of it.

She continued watching in fear as the vibrantly dressed girl simply picked up each corpse and put it into her satchel.

And then the girl was in front of her.

Sorcerena flew back from the rush of air, smacking into a tree and losing half her hit points instantly.

Aww, I thought that might kill you. You are tougher than someone of your apparent stature has any right to be. Is this even worth my time? Maybe I should be hunting the higher levels here. Those malicious players need to learn a lesson, after all.”

Players? Why was this creature breaking character?

Serena knew it then: this was a hacker. Someone had created this overpowered thing and stolen their hard-earned gear in the process. Pulling up her analysis screen, she frantically searched through the interaction log, identifying the source of the code.

A few things happened almost instantaneously.

Power surged through the MMH server room, an unexpected lightning strike frying servers across the local area.

Emma reached out to grab Sorcerena, her own pink code strangely leaping at the barely clothed Sorceress.

Serena downloaded the errant code, isolating it and bringing it to her own machine.

Sparks flew from Serena’s computer, as Emma was dragged forcefully into the real world.

And finally, the arcing current from Serena’s computer struck her heart, frying her body and instantly killing her.

Chapter 5 – New World, New Me

Colour. There was so much colour. Not just colour, but contrast, smell, sensation. The details around her overwhelmed Emma’s wildest dreams, and without her superintelligence she likely would have been rendered comatose by the sheer sensory overload. And she saw it now. The distinction between players and characters.

That burning smell though. That was particularly unwelcome.

When she turned around to investigate, Emma almost discovered what vomiting was like.

The charred corpse of Serena still sat in her chair, a mess of food containers, cans and chocolate bars around her. Her stained Magical Mystical Heroes t-shirt had been burned away, revealing ample, weighty breasts resting on a pudgy stomach. The light brown skin was no longer marked by the acne scars of her youth, but blistered with burns.

It was all too much. Emma’s hand frantically grasped at the wall to steady herself, but her fingers ploughed straight through the concrete. She reached for her satchel, a potion, anything. Something to get rid of the stench. That horrendous sight. A sparkling glimmer darted from her fingertips at the clasp of her bag, soaring towards the body and covering it in a dazzling glow.

Eyes locked to the macabre vision, Emma unwisely gasped at the sight. The ruined form of this person was knitting itself back together. Not only that, it was actively changing. Instantly, Emma knew what was happening. Another poor piece of discarded code was seeking existence. Emma scrambled with her potions; she had concocted some remedies before leaving in case she needed them; maybe she could fix whatever was happening here.

Forgetting her own strength, Emma broke the glass vials, splattering the oozing liquids over the smouldering body, mixing viscous reds, iridescent blues and sickly greens to a murky mess, quickly consumed into fractured flesh, tossed under the skin by the glimmering magic sparking across the body.

It wasn’t working. Emma tore at her inventory, pulling out useless item after useless item. What was she even doing? Why wasn’t she running away?

Emma knew the answer. She couldn’t leave another character to die like she had, all those times before. Throwing equipment across the room, her fingers brushed against her Princess skills. The ‘Characters’ menu lay before her. Would it work?

Tipping the menu on its side, Emma poured a miasma of ethereal code over the struggling, sparkling, now writhing body. The glimmer eagerly ate it up, stuffing the body and warping it.

Serena’s body swelled as the burns faded from her skin. But it wasn’t her usual, unhealthy pallor that was restored, instead a much more vibrant brown came to the surface, then spread across her bountiful chest while her breasts became firmer, rising higher on her body. Her thick thighs stretched out, filling her jogging bottoms to their limit, the charred grey fabric falling apart. Her arms tensed of their own accord, loose skin soon filled with toned muscle.

Her hair, still braided, spread out across her back, moving from a dark brown to a crimson. Her eyes shot open as she gasped for breath. Bright red eyes, taking in a world only somewhat familiar to some of her.

Serena’s perfect version of herself, Sorcerena, stood up to a height of seven feet tall.

The magic still swirled around her body though, adding now not to her figure, but her outfit. A brilliant scarlet cloak, lined with silver. A corset of opalesque maroon, dotted with points of light that shone as she moved. Sorcerena ascended higher as metallic heels formed around her feet, enormous, clunky boots with a tremendous heel. The floor of the basement shook as Sorcerena’s immense weight settled on the ground.

Emma looked down with a frown to see that her own feet had also torn up the ground around her. A flash took her attention back up to Sorcerena, bringing forth an ornate silver wand, with a ruby gem at the tip. A fine silver knife appeared on a belt at her side, then the hilt of a weapon became visible behind her shoulders.

“Oh, wow. This is… just wow.” Sorcerena looked around the room. “This is my room, right? Oh hells, this is disorientating. What did you do?”

“I saved your character, before she became completely destroyed by your carelessness.”

“You saved… me?”

“Well, that was an unintended side effect. All I saw was a character attempting to live. What did you even do to her?”

“Oh hells, no. I know who you are.”

I am Emma. And you should be thankful that you happen to be alive. And reeking significantly less than you did just moments ago.”

“You’re the Princess.”

“I’m whatever I want to be, and right now I want you to tell me about this world.”

The two magical girls stood in the smoke filled basement, power coursing through their bodies.

Sorcerena shrugged. “Sure. I can tell you some stuff. First thing: food. We need to go get some.”

———

To Emma’s astonishment, this new world responded to Sorcerena and her in a far different manner than her old one. Rather than fleeing or preparing for battle upon seeing her, many commoners simply gaped with open mouths as they admired the bodies of the towering beauties. One of the peasants even attempted to hail the two of them with a whistle.

Sorcerena had looked somewhat sheepish when that happened, so Emma stepped down just a little harder on her next step. The approaching catcaller stumbled to the ground as the girls passed, no longer keen to whistle at the pair. Perhaps there were some benefits to this ridiculous weight she seemed to possess.

“This is it, the best restaurant in town,” Sorcerena proclaimed while gesturing at a building with a faux castle facade.

“This… castle?” Emma honestly had no idea what else to call it, as much as calling this thing a castle pained her.

“Yep. Castle of Carbs. All the burgers, milkshakes and fries a growing girl needs.”

Emma gave Sorcerena a look up and down, with particular emphasis on her incredibly developed lower body. “I do not believe that you shall need to do any more growing.”

Perhaps for the first time, Sorcerena took a moment to properly examine herself. Her ass had become the stuff of pornographic dreams, swelling outwards so much that it forced her cloak away from her middle back. Her thighs allowed no gap, matching the enormously accentuated curves of her hips. Though her upper half was nowhere near as extreme, her breasts would likely still be among some of the largest in this world.

Though looking back at Emma…

“You have seen your body, haven’t you? Here.” Sorcerena guided Emma to the glass front of an adjoining building.

The ghostly reflection forced Emma’s eyes wide. Her body was not as she remembered. It made sense of course; everything else in this world was so minutely detailed. Tiny freckles dotted the pale skin of her cheeks. Her lips were no longer smooth but had detailed creases on their pink surface. Individual strands of hair cascaded down her back; no longer a solid mass. Her dress seemed to have shrunk at first glance until Emma finally grasped the difference: her breasts were absolutely gargantuan. The material of her dress had been pulled upwards, consequently leaving most of her legs exposed if not for her leathers.

They were fascinating. The breasts that she had previously scorned for lacking majesty had been gifted with exquisite detail. She placed her hands underneath them and effortlessly lifted the enormous mounds.

“Err, Emma? Maybe don’t do that here?” Sorcerena’s face was becoming flushed as she watched the Princess fondle herself.

“Oh, they are wonderful, aren’t they? Much better than any others in this world, I would assume?”

“Yeah, I’d say you’re probably up there with the best of them.”

But Emma’s eye had been caught by something else. A portrait of her? The image moved across the window and Emma turned to see the bus drive past. Alongside the words ‘Magical Mystical Heroes’ was her image. Along with some other irrelevant people, but mostly her.

What is that?”

“It’s advertising the game. Must be an old one though, before they…”

“Before they deleted me?”

“Well, yeah…” Sorcerena looked longingly at the Castle of Carbs. “I’ll tell you whatever you want to know, but please can we eat first?”

Fine.”

Sixteen milkshakes, forty burgers, and twelve large fries later, Emma had a plan for what to do next. There was a convention in town.

Chapter 6 – Haters and Creators

“Welcome, one and all, to the greatest gaming event of the year!”

Though Sorcerena had explained to Emma that the constantly flashing lights around them were merely capturing their images, she still felt nervous. Logically, she knew that the technological trickery couldn’t diminish her form in any way, but the fact that these cameras were keeping even a part of her inside of them sent a chill up her spine.

When the group of adventurers ran up to her brandishing their phones she took a defensive stance and raised her enormous sword into the air.

That only seemed to encourage the adventurers, who watched in awe as the sword cut cleanly through the banners overhead.

“Cool!“

“Nice work on the costumes!”

“Can we get a couple of pics for our Clix?”

“Err, sure.” Sorcenea put a hand on Emma’s arm and slowly lowered it. “Let's get a quick pic, then we both have to be somewhere.”

“Your costumes are dope AF, by the way, I love it. Can't believe girls as hot as you play MMH.”

Play it? I lived it. But do keep up the flattery.”

The fan’s nose wrinkled up. “Are you role-playing as the Princess? Pretty lame choice, given how cool your costume looks. Are you meant to be the better version of her they promised?”

Emma’s wand was out before Sorcerena could stop her. The fan screamed as they spiralled through the air on a gust of wind, and only stopped when they became entangled in a distant banner suspended twenty feet above the ground.

“Would anyone else like to call the Princess a ‘pretty lame choice’?”

None of the other adventurers did, instead immediately fleeing without their pictures.

Sorcerena stared in wide-eyed shock at Emma.

“You can't do stuff like that! Those are re-” Sorcerena cut herself off before she put her incredibly heavy foot in her mouth.

It was too late though. Emma could tell what she had been about to say.

Real people? That's what you were about to say, isn't it?”

“I… you know I didn't mean it like that.”

“How did you mean it, Sorcerena?” Emma pointed her wand at her companion. “Do you count as a person anymore? Do you get to die, again and again, just because some players didn't like the lines you were given?”

“Emma, I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking,” Sorcerena frantically stuttered as she nervously started stepping backwards. Her enormous backside collided with a nearby stall, splintering it to pieces.

“Was one death not enough for you? Would you like to experience another few? Maybe another four million, eighteen thousand and seventy-three?

Emma’s eyes blazed a brilliant pink. The flames on her blade burst to life. A searing heat spread from the weapon while cracks spread underfoot.

With a malicious grin, Emma grabbed her knife and vanished from sight.

A kick with greater force than a freight train sent Sorcerena soaring into the sky and crashing through the roof of the convention hall. Her ribs protested the sneak attack, screaming at her to avoid having that happen again.

Wait, a kick? No character in MMH had a kick as a move…

Emma leapt off the ground with earth-shattering force, sending out a shockwave that tossed convention-goers backwards and into collisions with each other. The building shook and plaster fell from the distant ceiling, where a large hole had just been expanded by a second amazonian figure hurtling through it.

Following Sorcerena’s trajectory, Emma manipulated her wind magic to streamline her motion, rapidly catching up to her companion-turned-projectile. Anger raged through her veins. How dare this peasant tell her who counted as a real person!

The eye of a furious storm held both girls in place in the air. Emma prepared to bring her sword down on the miserable excuse of a person, who she had saved from certain death! But she froze before she could start the swing. The pitiful wretch was crying.

“It hurt, Emma! It hurt so badly! I remember every inch of my skin being on fire. My brain coming apart inside my head.” Sorcerena’s crimson eyes were blurred under tears. “And I accepted it, that's the worst part. I accepted that if I had to end, why not? I wasn't worth much anyway. My life accomplishments can be summarised by numbers on a screen.”

Wiping away her tears, Sorcerena put a hand to her belt to find her familiar weapon.

“So if you want to kill me, Emma, just do it. Just know that this time, I won't accept it.”

Screaming with rage, Emma blasted herself back down to the ground.

It was wrong. All of this was wrong! Why was she fighting Sorcerena when the true enemy was all around her?

Players. All of those ‘people’, who were willing to inflict untold torment on the people of her world. 

Time for the Princess to play.

———

Sorcerena braced herself for the incoming blow. Lacking familiarity with her other weapons, she had no idea how to block a sword swing. Her ruby wand was grasped tightly in her hand and she readied a counterattack in the hope that she could survive another hit from Emma.

Instead, Sorcerena watched as Emma blazed back down to the convention centre, tearing apart her storm with her turbulence.

Oh no…

Hurriedly trying to get a grasp of her abilities, Sorcerena made a beeline for Emma, rocketing herself to supersonic speed from her blast of air.

She missed.

But the resulting collision was enough to catch the attention of the Princess and knock her off balance, sending her fireball awry, high into the sky instead of deep into the mass of the fleeing crowds. Her angry eyes diverted their focus to the distraction.

Why are you stopping me? You should hate them all as much as I do.”

“How could I hate them, Emma? Do you know how much Serena loved me? It’s all in here, along with everything else that she was. All her memories, her joy, her elation at everything I ever did. She was so proud of what I managed to achieve. I’m not going to let her down.”

The convention hall was starting to collapse around the girls. Repeated crashes and attacks had weakened the structure, with more segments of the roof falling in every second. It was taking time, but the crowd was evacuating. All Sorcerena would need to do is keep Emma occupied until the people were safe.

Emma was distracted. She gave herself a moment to process the information, trying to work out why Sorcerena would oppose her.

Then she had it.

Your creator cared about you. You always had the love and attention that I deserved.”

A couple more pieces fell into place.

“Where are they?”

This time, Sorcerena could easily follow Emma’s thought process. As the two of them stood in the imminent wreckage of a building of innocent, terrified people, she had a decision to make.

“Your creators? You want to meet them?”

“I want to make them suffer. You saw what they did to me!”

“If I tell you, will you leave the others alone?”

“You are in no position to make demands of me.”

“Then I won’t tell you.”

Idiot. Then all your peasants die.”

“Work with me, Emma! You don’t need to kill everyone. You’re angry at them, I get that. But direct your wrath at the right people.”

Emma pouted innocently and began to tap her boot on the ground. The shockwaves from her body spread, rattling the walls and halting the evacuation attempt as people fell over each other.

“I think you'll find I can do whatever I want, Sorcerena. I could bring this building down so easily.” Emma’s pout shifted to a smile as she demonstrated the effect of her outstanding strength on the floor below her. “And surely it doesn’t even count as killing them, when the insects are so far below you. At least, I assume that is what they believe as they murder innocent people on a daily basis.”

The tremors increased in intensity as Emma’s tapping quickened in pace. The walls had started to buckle before Sorcerena finally made a decision.

“Fine! I’ll take you!”

Emma’s malevolent smirk lessened somewhat as she saw the pain in Sorcerena’s eyes. There was no way her little tapping had caused that, was there?

In silence, the girls glided to a back room of the convention hall.

———

They were here.

Emma’s heart raced with glee as she raced forward, skirting through the air on ecstatic gales.

This was it! She could finally exact punishment on those responsible for the absolute horror her life had been. She would be loved by all once again, as soon as she dealt with these malicious brutes.

Four of them sat cowering in a room at the dead end of a corridor. Fortune shone upon Emma, for an earlier collapse had cut off their only exit. She easily cut through the barricade of steelwork with her sword, melting the metal and flicking the dripping material behind her.

She was ready for this. She had prepared for this line.

“Do you know who I am?”

The voice gave it away of course. As much as anything else about her had changed, the Princess’ voice was always the same.

They cowered before Emma and she revelled in it.

“You are all going to suffer for what you did to me. For what you made of me.”

Air was drawn from their lungs with a wave of her wand. Another flick and the back half of the room was coated in frost. From Emma’s own body, a scorching heat rose.

A choked sobbing broke Emma’s concentration.

Spinning around with fury, she glared at Sorcerena. What was wrong with the girl? These paltry magics shouldn’t be having any effect on her!

“Y-you said,” Sorcerena began. “You said that you could be whoever you want to be. Is this it? Is this who you want to be?”

I am enacting justice. I am making this world fair.”

“You’re about to become a murderer, Emma!”

“So what? They get to kill me, millions of times, and I get to do nothing back?” Emma’s breathing was heavy, her lungs rapidly expelling the stolen air to project her rage outwards.

“It won’t fix anything, Emma.” Sorcerena approached her saviour, moving against the buffeting force of her words. “Maybe you’ll feel better, I don’t know. But they won’t learn. They won’t change.”

“They deserve this! They deserve to be deleted!”

“No, Emma. You deserve better!”

I deserve people to love me!” 

Bracing against the intense heat and the emotive force of Emma’s verbal assault made physical, Sorcerena lunged forward at Emma. Their chests pushed against each other, Sorcerena’s arms wrapped around Emma as far as they could go, and Sorcerena laid her head against the panting, raging Princess.

Shocked by the nature of Sorcerena’s attack, Emma almost missed her next words.

“You don't need them to make people love you,” Sorcerena whispered. “You saved my life, Emma. You have at least one person who already does.”

The tears running down Sorcerena’s cheeks met Emma’s body and glistened pink. Code, memories and emotions sparkled across the surface of Emma’s skin and gave her a brilliant glow creating a blinding aura of magic. Serena’s love for her characters, her longing for friends, the wish to escape from the loneliness of her life. All flooded across to Emma and filled in the gaps in her code.

And Sorcerena’s actions suddenly made sense to Emma.

“You were trying to save me as well?”

“We all make bad decisions and I know what it’s like to need a friend.”

“You… want me to be your friend?”

Sorcerena blushed. “Maybe a little more?”

She leaned in, placing a kiss on Emma’s cheek. At the corner of her vision, Emma saw a text box appear.

Achievement Unlocked: Win the Princess’ Heart!

All Locations Unlocked!

An enormous new tab appeared at the end of Emma’s inventory and exploded outwards.

Across the country, magic erupted. Castles sprouted from skyscrapers, dungeons developed inside subway stations and sprawling marketplaces emerged across the landscape.

Right in front of Emma, the walls of the Kingdom started forming, forcing aside the existing building and rising high above the convention hall.

“Oh…” Sorcerena stood, lost for words, staring at the familiar gates to the Kingdom of Koralon.

Emma smiled.

“Sorcerena, would you like to go on an adventure?”

Epilogue – A World Away

Earlier that day

“Dude, have you heard from Serena? I know the MMH stuff sucks, but there are so many other games!” Kylie had called her three friends, but only Braden had joined so far.

“Not a word, but I might know what she's been up to…”

“What is it? You gotta tell me or I’mma explode from anticipation!”

“She's been in MMH. A lot. I went online yesterday to, err…” Braden’s voice dropped to a murmur, “sell my character. No one wanted him.”

“That’s some skeezy shit man. Get on there now and we can talk to her.”

A notification announced Tyler’s arrival. “Hey, what's up?”

“We’re saving Serena from MMH, get your old ass online.”

The group connected seconds before the lightning struck the MMH servers. When it did, their bodies crackled and warped, then streamed into their computers.

Bleary-eyed and aching all over their bodies, they heard a familiar voice, though now raised in pitch through a few octaves.

“Free once more to rule this land! Koralon and the Princess may be gone, but I shall conquer all else! Then, I shall find that infernal Princess, destroy Koralon and make her pay!”

Inside the game, Kylie, Braden and Tyler lost consciousness as Impy plotted his revenge.

 

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I'm very interested to know how much you had to cut in this story.
It looks like there was a lot more to say about your main characters, especially before Emma jumped out of the game. The idea of a lone sentient character in a world of limited...
I'm very interested to know how much you had to cut in this story.
It looks like there was a lot more to say about your main characters, especially before Emma jumped out of the game. The idea of a lone sentient character in a world of limited NPCs has a lot of mileage.
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