Magical Mystical Heroes – Part 3
Written by Wizalex :: [Saturday, 01 July 2023 02:49] Last updated by :: [Saturday, 01 July 2023 21:51]
Magical Mystical Heroes
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 help the Princess save the Kingdom in the latest expansion to the award-winning MMO.
Chapter 6 – New World, New Me
Colour. There was so much colour. Not just colour, but contrast, smell, sensation. The details around her surpassed Emma’s wildest dreams. Had she ever even known what a dream was before now? Without her superintelligence she likely would have been rendered comatose by the sheer sensory overload. And she saw it now. The distinction between player and character.
What had she done to those poor characters?
And what was that stench? Emma wrinkled up her nose in disgust. 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. Her 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. Retching, she reached for her satchel, a potion, anything. Anything to get rid of that vile odour, something to bleach that horrific sight from her mind.
While Emma’s wits were fraying, a sparkling glimmer darted past her fingertips at the clasp of her bag. It soared towards the body, piercing through the damaged flesh at every open wound and weeping burn, covering every injury in a dazzling glow.
Eyes locked to the macabre vision, Emma unwisely gasped. After recovering from a sudden fit of gagging and choking, she dared to glimpse the body again. The ruined form of this person was knitting itself back together. Not only that, it was actively changing, remoulding itself into a new and improved form at an ever decreasing rate as the glimmer around the body died.
Instinctively, Emma knew what was happening: another poor piece of discarded code was seeking existence. Thinking to remedy her past mistakes, Emma scrambled with her potions. She had concocted some advanced ones recently, maybe they would help?
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 brown 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. She couldn’t be responsible for killing another character, however she tried to justify her ignorance. Throwing equipment across the room, her fingers brushed against her Princess skills. The ‘Characters’ menu lay before her. Would it work?
Trying something new and absurd, Emma grabbed the entire drop-down menu that appeared in front of her and tipped it on its side. A miasma of ethereal code poured out 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 gold. 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. Her attention went back to Sorcerena as a brilliant flash of light brought forth an ornate crimson wand, decorated with gold leaf and boasting a ruby gem at the tip. A fine, blood-red knife appeared on a belt at her side, then the golden hilt of a scarlet blade 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… my character? You saved me?”
“Well, that was an unintended side effect. All I saw was a character attempting to live. If her creator survived, I’ll not press the issue. 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. With a resigned sigh, Sorcerena picked up the gold necklace and crescent moon glasses from Serena’s desk.
Sorcerena smiled sadly and shrugged. “Sure. I can tell you some stuff. First thing though: 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?”
“Hey!” A tall woman in a tight-fitting suit yelled out as she darted across the street. She waved her hands at the traffic, as if to ward off the approaching cars, and finally reached the other side, slightly out of breath.
“Phew, so glad I caught you…” The woman looked up, and then further up.
“Damn, you’re even bigger up close. Epic costumes, by the way, that’s actually why I wanted to chat.” She patted down her blue suit jacket, retrieving a press badge from her pocket and waving it towards Emma. “Erica Chase, I’m covering the convention.”
“You’re covering the convention?” Emma raised a quizzical eyebrow.
“Yeah, I know! Worst luck, right? I’d much rather be dressing up like you two, but the boss said I had to look professional. I mean, come on though! It’d be way better to have the reporter in cosplay too, right?” Erica struck a dramatic pose, putting her left foot and shoulder forward, thrusting out her chest and flicking her hair back. “Yeah, I’d’ve looked ah-may-zing! My costume was all ready to go and everything.”
“Yes, err, that sounds like it would have been great, Miss Chase, but we were just about to eat, so…” Sorcerena shuffled closer to the entrance of the fast food restaurant. “Emma?”
“Hey, that’s cool, I’ll join you! I love this place. The portions are big, the fries are great and the milkshakes are sooo good!” Erica grinned at the cautious Sorcerena and curious Emma. “Plus, I’ll pay for your meals if you give me a few quotes.”
Sorcerena hesitated, stammering for an excuse. Emma rolled her eyes.
“Honestly, Sorcerena,” Emma tutted. “Do feel free to join us, Miss Chase. I would like very much to hear the tales of this world from another perspective.”
“Wow, getting in character already? Great! And both of you need to stop calling me Miss Chase. Call me Erica. Now let’s get some chow, I’d love to hear how long it took you to make those…”
Warily biting her lip, Sorcerena followed Emma and Erica into the restaurant.
The world was changing, but not everyone knew it yet.
Having ordered each of them a “Fit for a Queen” meal deal, Erica was now gawking at the two chairs that Emma and Sorcerena had just flattened underneath their asses.
“Damn, is that armour the real deal? I know this place probably cheaps out on the furniture, but that’s some intense collateral!” Erica cautiously laid a palm on her own seat, shrugged, and sat down on it. “Man, you two really went the extra mile with those costumes!”
Emma grumbled as she lifted herself from the remains of her chair, digging her heels ever so slightly into the linoleum flooring.
“Incredibly poor craftsmanship. I knew that this wasn’t a real castle.” Emma accepted the bag of food Erica offered to her and curiously glanced inside. “I shall stand, in that case.”
Sorcerena went with a less dignified ‘shuffling towards the table’ approach, remaining seated on the floor.
“So, first off, what are your names?” Erica took out a notepad and a blue pen between bites of her burger. “I mean, if you want to, of course. I can make it all anonymous.”
“By the horns of the Demon, what is this!?” Emma’s eyes had gone wide and her mouth was agape, half a fry held between her fingers.
“See? Told you it was good.” Erica grinned. “So, about your names…”
“She’s Emma.” Sorcerena offered, thankful that the Princess was speechless for once. “I’m Sor- I’m Serena.”
“Cool. Cool cool cool. So what got you into cosplay? What got you into games? I mean, why aren’t you both models? And why have I never heard of you? Believe me, I follow all of the big names on Clix.”
“Err, well. I’ve been playing my whole… life, I guess you could say.” Sorcerena gestured at Emma. “She has too. We’re both something of an expert.”
“Nice. Love to see it. The boss has me doing a piece on girls in gaming. That’s what got me the job actually, Gamer Girl power!” Erica fist-pumped the air, still holding her portion of fries.
Said fries proceeded to fly through the air as Erica failed to control their motion with a frantic wave of her hand. She winced as they landed on the floor.
“I shall get you some more.” Emma had swiftly demolished her own meal in just over a minute and the hungry look of craving in her eyes was bordering on scary.
“You don’t have any money.” Sorcerena pointed out.
“I have plenty of coin.”
“Foreign coin.” Sorcerena corrected. She reached into her cleavage and handed over her card to Emma. “Just tap this card against the box when they tell you. And get me another one too.”
Emma carefully headed back to the counter, still trying to get used to the squishy, sticky floor beneath her.
“Wow, big appetites.” Erica nodded in approval. “Makes sense. You girls have to be, what, seven foot?”
“I don’t actually know. Probably?”
“Come on! You’re telling me you don’t know your height? I mean, I’m like a foot shorter than you and I still get questions on the daily!” Erica slurped at her milkshake and winked at Sorcerena. “6’2, in case you were wondering. Muuuch taller with the heels though.”
“I’ll have to measure at some point.” Sorcerena shuffled closer. “By the way, don’t mind if Emma acts a bit… odd. She’s just really involved in this stuff.”
“Don’t I know it! You’ve gotta tell me about those outfits. What are they made of? How long did it take to make them?”
Oh, you know, about a year or so of play, on and off. The wand was the real pain. Took me so long to get that.”
Erica gave Sorcerena a puzzled look but jotted something down in her notebook.
“Your peasants here are most infuriating.” Emma had returned with another stack of food. “One seemed to forget my request mere moments after I asked it. The other seemed entirely too focused on the milkshakes.”
Sorcerena and Erica both held back chuckles as Emma looked blankly between them.
“Is this a common occurrence then?”
“Yeah, I’d say so.” Erica leaned forward, causing her business suit to strain against her chest. “People tend to focus on the milkshakes around me too.”
Sorcerena burst into laughter and Emma scowled.
“I dislike being mocked.” Emma sniffed disdainfully. “I am a guest in this castle, however shabby, and should be treated as such.”
“Damn, you’re adorable. My girlfriend would love you.” Erica reached for the food. “My boyfriend would too, but he’d be way too shy to admit it.”
“You have both?” Sorcerena asked.
“Yeah, not really a one-person gal. And I had both of those cuties hanging around me like lost puppies, so I thought I’d ask them both out — not like either of them would’ve had the balls to do it.” Erica noticed Sorcerena’s puzzled expression. “Oh, don’t worry, they’re both cool with it. We all live together. My boyfriend’s a reporter too, crime stuff though mostly, he gets all the cool cases. Girlfriend’s a cop — that’s how we all met.”
Erica took another long gulp of her milkshake in her eternal attempt to refuel her overworked voice.
“I want to hear about you two though! Are you a couple? You’re hella cute together if you are.”
Sorcerena blushed and Emma raised an eyebrow.
“Okay, so not a couple then. Just two excessively tall, incredibly hot girls who cosplay as warrior princesses. Cool. Super cool. In fact, I’m gonna convince my girlfriend to wear one of my costumes and compete against you in the cosplay contest next month.”
Erica paused again for another slurp, glancing at her phone as she did so. The milkshake left her mouth violently as her eyes went wide in horror.
“Holy shit. Holy fucking shit!”
“What? What is it?”
“A city. A whole fucking city!” Erica turned her screen around to Sorcerena.
The image mostly consisted of a crater. A huge, vast emptiness that belied scale upon first inspection. A couple of seconds to take in the sight revealed the barely visible wreckage of buildings among the rubble of an utterly eradicated city.
“My cousins lived there…” Erica slowly whispered.
Her fingers rapidly blurred across the screen and a news article flashed up. Emma watched the whole process with a mixture of morbid curiosity and fascination regarding both the content and the phone itself.
A fragmented news report played, stitched together from social media footage. A horrifying, giggling, pink creature, wreathed in sparks and floating high in the sky, shook the landscape with every overt sexual utterance. The lens of the camera shattered under the force of her moans at one point, offering only a broken view just as an earthquake levelled a distant set of buildings, followed by a far more powerful earthquake that cut off the footage prematurely.
The report was barely written, with only three lines below the footage.
“Searches ongoing for survivors of the destruction, but hopes are low. Devastation thought to be linked to recent lightning strikes. Emergence of superpowers being blamed for recent catastrophes.”
“This happened three minutes ago…” Erica was pale, and far less vocal than she had been so far. “I’m so sorry, but I have to go. I have to work out what’s going on here.”
Without another word, Erica fled from the restaurant.
“I assume that this world also has monsters then?”
“Well, yeah,” Sorcerena hesitantly began, “but they’re not usually like this.”
Emma scoffed. “What’s the difference? Monsters come in all forms, but hold one aspect in common: they only care about themselves.”
Emma and Sorcerena continued eating in silence after that. The remains of Erica’s second meal were quickly devoured, along with a large portion of the kitchen stock and the contents of Serena’s bank account.
Sixteen milkshakes, forty burgers, and twelve large fries later, Emma had a plan for what to do next. There was a convention in town.
“Welcome, one and all, to the greatest gaming event of the year!”
After some gentle persuasion, Emma had been able to convince Sorcerena that heading to the convention was the best option. Something weird was going on and the answers were more than likely there. Plus, after Erica had made such a point about how they would be welcomed and adored, Sorcerena had barely an argument to protest with.
The trip was fairly uneventful this time, with most people clearing the streets and heading home after news of recent events spread. The destroyed city was dozens of miles away, but the news, and resulting panic, were spreading fast across the country.
People were scared.
Emma was far too captivated by the constant stream of wonders of the world around her to worry too much about that though. Take the convention centre itself, for example. The thing was absolutely massive, a stadium large enough to contain her entire kingdom!
That was the first thing she noticed about it – that immense, and quite frankly absurd, scale. The second thing was the enormous poster for her game, her own presence notably lacking, hastily removed and replaced with an enlarged image of the game’s logo. Emma’s blood boiled as flames licked around her heels.
In her anger at the sights above, Emma almost missed the massive crowd hurriedly exiting the convention centre dressed in a huge array of costumes. In return, most of the crowd spared them only a cursory glance, or the occasional attention of a camera phone, before rushing away.
Emma was somewhat familiar with the things now. She'd asked her companion about the devices after seeing Erica’s, and Sorcerena had explained the concept of a mobile phone to her, along with the idea of photography. Now that Emma was caught in the middle of it she understood that the constantly flashing lights around them were merely capturing their images, not attacking them or inflicting some unseen malady.
It still made Emma feel uneasy. 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.
So, naturally, upon arriving inside the convention hall and having a group of adventurers run up to her brandishing their phones like weapons, 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.
“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, their uncontrolled flight only ending when they became entangled in a distant banner suspended twenty feet above the ground. The screaming continued though.
That was it, Emma raged internally. She'd had enough of dealing with these idiots insulting her.
“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? Do you not remember the state that mortal shell was in before I rescued you? Would you like to experience another few demises? 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.
“It ****ing sucks!” Emma screeched.
With an expression of manic rage, 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? Sorcerena’s mind reeled with her body. 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 the remaining 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. Steadily brewing anger raged through her veins and lashed out at the nearest target. How dare this peasant tell her who counted as a real person!
The eye of a furious storm held both women in place in the air. Emma prepared to bring her sword down on this miserable excuse of a person, who she had saved from certain death! But she froze before she could start the swing, feeling the moisture on her cheeks.
The pitiful wretch was crying!
Sorcerena’s arms hung limply by her sides. Her shoulders hunched over and her head hung low, obscuring most of her face from view. Standing on a platform of solid air above her, Emma clenched her teeth and tightened her grip on her sword. Another tear fell from Sorcerena, descending into the maelstrom below. The glistening streaks of the previous droplet boiled away from Emma’s cheek.
“It hurt, Emma.” Sorcerena was quiet against the backdrop of the raging winds. “It hurt so badly.”
The bespectacled girl took a faltering breath and continued.
“I remember every inch of my skin being on fire. My brain coming apart inside my head.” Sorcerena looked up briefly, her crimson eyes blurred under tears. “And Serena accepted it, that's the worst part. She accepted that if she had to end, why not? Neither of us is worth much anyway. Both of our life accomplishments could be summarised by numbers on a screen. She was about to lose all of her friends, I was about to become unused data.”
Wiping away her tears, Sorcerena put a hand to her belt to find the familiar weight of a weapon.
The wand would do. It felt right.
The blade on Sorcerena’s back dissolved, the knife at her belt vanishing with it. She grasped her wand and slowly lifted it in a defensive stance. Lightning crackled along her arm, scarlet static spreading across her body.
“So if you want to kill me, Emma, do it.” Sorcerena’s gaze was stern as she looked Emma in the eye. “But you're going to have to mean it. I’m not going without a fight.”
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.
And there was an entire infestation of them right below her.
Time for the Princess to play.
Sorcerena braced herself for the incoming blow.
She lacked familiarity with her other weapons and had never even tried to block a sword swing before, let alone with her wand, but it had seemed the obvious choice. It was familiar, even if it wasn't exactly her wand.
Grasping that part of herself that knew how this all worked tightly in her mind, Sorcerena readied a counterattack. Maybe Emma wouldn't take her out with the first blow. Maybe she'd get a chance to talk her down or take her down.
Instead, Sorcerena watched as Emma blazed back down to the convention centre, tearing apart her storm with her turbulence.
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.
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?” Sorcerena gestured to her chest, highlighting the golden necklace around her neck as her crescent-moon glasses caught the light of the ascending fire. “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 had to do was 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.”
“I fed you. I guided you. I gave you hospitality.”
“You are protecting people who have tortured and murdered me!”
“And you wish them harm?”
“Then I won’t tell you.”
“Idiot. Then all your peasants die.”
“Work with me, Emma! You don’t need to kill anyone. You’re angry at them, I get that. But direct your wrath at the right people. In the right way.”
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. Your monsters appear to achieve far worse than that.”
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 face met Emma’s body once more. This time, they glistened in pink as they met and mixed with the emotional rivulets already covering Emma’s cheeks. Code, memories and emotions sparkled across the surface of Emma’s skin, giving her a brilliant glow and creating a blinding aura of magic. Serena’s love for her characters, her longing for friends, her wish to escape from the loneliness of her life. All of it 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, thinking briefly back to Erica’s words. “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.
“Sorcerena, would you like to go on an adventure?” Emma smiled as she considered a new world of possibilities. “I think I may have some characters to save.”
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, along with thousands of other unfortunate gamers.
Some time later, Tyler woke up bleary-eyed and aching all over – more so than usual. A somewhat familiar voice, though now raised in pitch through a few octaves, was finishing a dramatic monologue.
“Free once more to rule this land!” The former Demon Lord cried out. “I shall find that infernal Princess, destroy Koralon, and make her pay!”
The cackling imp rifled through Emma and Sorcerena’s remaining belongings as it continued its dastardly scheming. Tyler barely paid any further attention, his mind fixated on the impossibility of the situation. Braden and Kylie were unconscious next to him, so he went to check on them.
At least until a sudden scream made his focus shift back to the imp.
In the outside world, a bolt of lightning had just struck a decommissioned server sitting next to the one running this instance of Magical Mystical Heroes. In the game, the demeaned Demon Lord had just picked up a stick carved with nautical imagery.
The Demon Lord’s body exploded outwards in a cacophony of off-kilter melodies and pixelated fire.
“Woah! Hell yeah!”
A sharp whistle rang out, making Tyler wince as his eyes burned from the brimstone-scented smoke.
Emerging from the cloud of flames was a demonic-looking woman dressed in leathers, a rapier strapped to her side. She wore a tricorn hat and casually held a lute in one hand. Her skin was as red as the Demon Lord’s had been, but the rest of her features were black as pitch. Red pupils blazed in black eyes, lit coals eagerly waiting to devour themselves. Black lips curved upwards into a cocky grin, revealing a golden tooth among the sharp incisors. Wavy black locks spread down her back, disturbed by the experimental flapping of a pair of demonic wings and the swishing of a barbed tail.
Most notably though, her curved horns were lined with flames, each one rising and falling with every noise she made, a visual representation of her voice.
And on her cheek, a tattoo in the shape of a C-clef. But that meant…
“Serenade?” Tyler asked.
“Hey, I’m famous! Good for Me!” Serenade’s flames warbled with every half-sung word, flaring up as she spat fire onto a nearby tree, instantly turning it to ash. “Not exactly my standard outfit. Or skin. Or general demonic vibe. But I’ll rock it.”
A guitar strum sounded in the air around Serenade.
“Here’s the thing though. I’m pretty sure I just came Back from the Dead. So, I’m about to Make Some Noise, Burn It Down, All That Jazz.” Serenade breathed a sigh of relief, exhaling both a torrent of flame and a screeching power cord.
“Too Much?” Serenade turned to Tyler, taking his terrified expression as confirmation. “Okay, I’ll lay off the puns. Gotta save a little spice for Serena.”
“Oh, yeah, the choice.” Serenade snapped her fingers and a golden fiddle appeared in place of her lute. “Wanna join me? If not, you get one chance to get away, scot-free.”
“Otherwise, welcome to the crew!”