“What do you think is bothering Fen?” Wolfgang asked. He and his twin brother walked up to the seven-story, glass building of Portal to Gaming. They’d just parted ways with their best friend and Daniel’s new gal pal, Bambi, not that long ago. Worry for Fen clawed at Wolfgang’s heart. He’d not failed to notice the dark circles under his friend’s eyes. “He doesn’t look like he slept too good last night.”
“He never does after the profs leave,” Daniel muttered. “You’d think it wouldn’t anymore, but it still does. Didn’t help that it was surprise visits all around. Might have been better off if they hadn’t come home. I really don’t want to talk about this out here. Feels like someone’s watching us for some stupid reason. I don’t like it.”
“We gotta do something about that,” Wolfgang said. He understood what his twin meant and felt the same way. Every so often, his back twinged a little with a painful, tingling sensation. They stepped inside the air-conditioned building. For some reason, the weather was warmer than usual. The sensations vanished as well, a minor relief for Wolfgang.
“We are,” Daniel promised. “We’re going to get Lance to leave him alone once and for all.”
“That won’t be . . .”
“Excuse me, lads, would you happen to be Daniel and Wolfgang Evans?”
Wolfgang blinked then glanced at his brother. His twin’s expression of confusion mirrored his own. A chubby man in his mid-forties with short, dark curly hair plastered onto his head approached them. He’d just stepped off an elevator as they walked in the door of Portal to Gaming. Up close, Wolfgang noted more than a few scars and blisters on the man’s face. A braces covered one of the man’s legs, and he used a single crutch to walk.
“Yeah,” Daniel replied. “We are. Who are you?”
“Name’s Harry Festus,” and he extended his free hand. “Glad to meet you.”
“As in one of the founders Harry Festus?” Wolfgang gaped.
“You boys know your Portal history.” Harry chuckled. “That’s good. Makes this easier for me.”
“Of course we know who you are!” Daniel exclaimed. He eagerly shook the man’s hand. Wolfgang waited his turn. “We love your company. We’ve been looking forward to the new Arc of Fantasy event!”
“Have you now? Good to know we’ve got some satisfied customers here.”
“You’ve really made our day, sir! We didn’t expect to run into you!”
“Oh, but I expected to run into you. You guys have been gaming like clockwork lately.” He smiled. “How ‘bout we have a seat, boys, and I tell you why I was looking for you, hm? That sound good?”
“Sounds excellent!” Daniel enthused.
They followed him around a corner and into a room with three glass walls and oversized, plush chairs. Harry chose the one closest to him and immediately sat down, a sigh of relief escaping him. Wolfgang and Daniel turned some chairs around so they could face him.
“Ah, that’s better,” Harry murmured.
“Your leg bother you that much, Mr. Festus?” Wolfgang asked.
“Please, call me Harry, and you could say that they both +do from time to time. It’s kind of like when you hear some old timer say something ‘bout a change in the weather, that they can feel it in their bones type of thing. That’s the best I can describe it, anyway. Thank you for asking.”
“Not a problem,” Wolfgang said.
“You’re good kids, I can see that.” Harry smiled. “And, while I’d love to chat with you some more, I am quite the busy man, sadly. Gaming launches don’t oversee themselves. So right to business, shall we?”
“Sure.” Wolfgang and Daniel glanced at each other. “You said you were looking for us.”
“Yep, I was. In fact, it’s ‘bout the Arc of Fantasy launch. I’m sure you’ve heard that certain players are going to be selected for early participation, right? That there will be specially designed non-playable characters to talk to for you to get started and all that?”
“Yeah!” Daniel enthused. “We’ve been looking for the NPCs designed for the launch!”
“Wonderful!” Harry beamed. “Absolutely wonderful! But you won’t need to after today.”
“What?” They exchanged another glance.
“Boys, you’ve been chosen to be among the first ones to participate in the launch. Most of those NPCs now will find you based on keywords and the like. We programmed them that way.”
“What?” Daniel exclaimed.
The words, at first, didn’t register in Wolfgang’s mind. Excitement bubbled in his twin, and Daniel slapped his arms a few times. Wolfgang shot his twin a short-lived, disgusted look.
“Yep,” Harry replied. He reclined back in his chair. “You’ve been chosen to be among the five players to help with the new adventure’s release. The official launch is still a month or so away, while we work out the kinks in the system, but we’re ready for our designated players to begin. Rather than have the supervisors make those calls, like we originally planned, we founders are speaking individually to those players. It’s a little more fun for us this way. Gives us a chance to meet with the players and chat with them for a bit. Nice for them, nice for us. A once in a lifetime experience. Everyone wins.”
“That’s awesome.” Wolfgang grinned. At the same time, Daniel asked, “Who are the others?”
“I’m not at liberty to say. I’m just here to let you know you’ve been chosen for the fire wyvern arc and,” he drawled out the last word, “to give you your upgrades for your accounts.”
Next to him, Daniel’s right foot started to bounce. He tapped his fingers on his knees. Wolfgang could only stare at Harry, shocked.
“Our . . . upgrades.”
“Yep. Upgrades for the both of you. Three each.”
“Nope. Both of you are gonna get the same upgrade of having whatever you got on you with you in the game. Can be most anything. Pictures, trinkets from home, what have you. You each can have up to fifteen different items that will be unique solely to you. Now which one of you is Daniel?”
“I am.” His twin raised his hand.
“Okay.” Harry glanced at his tablet. “Says here you’re an archer, eh?”
“Interesting. Well, allow me to get a little formal with you. I’m gonna bequeath to you something any archer would love to have. A quiver that never runs out of arrows.” Harry smiled almost triumphantly as he spoke.
“Really?” Daniel’s eyes shone.
“Yep. Never know when such a thing might come in handy. Some battles can be tougher than others, eh? Nice to know you got plenty of arrows in that type of a situation! And it’s only one of two quivers like it in the game. No one can steal it from you, either. The quiver is coded specifically for you.”
“Yes, sir! Thank you, sir!”
“I’m not done with you, boy.” Harry chuckled. “You got one more upgrade comin’.”
“Okay.” His twin’s left foot started bouncing in place.
“You’re also gonna get a whistle.”
“A whistle? That’s . . . kind of different.”
“Believe it or not, it’s a very unique whistle. It can summon one of two ravens to you to carry a message to whoever you want.”
Daniel’s disappointment tugged at Wolfgang.
“No one else in the game will have anything like it,” Harry continued. “Think of it as a way to send an in-game message faster without all that summoning up the computer and typing. Just write down what you want to tell the person, summon the birds, and they’ll get your message off right quick. Heck, you don’t even really need to write anything done. You can tell them whatever you want and who the message needs to go to, and they’ll take it to that very person.”
“It’d be a good way to find someone,” Wolfgang said, albeit reluctantly.
“Yeah. Just be careful in how and you use it, kid. It’s a one-time use thing. Don’t lose it and don’t give it away.” Harry’s dark eyes burned as he gazed directly at Daniel. For a moment, Wolfgang shifted in his seat, a little uncomfortable.
“Okay . . .” Daniel replied.
“Now for you . . .” Harry glanced back and forth between them, as if unsure which twin was which. He then pointed. “Wolfgang, is it?”
“My apologies, lad. I’ve never been good with names and you being a twin makes it all the trickier for me. Anyway, for you, we have a pair of boots and an enchanted bag.”
“Boots and a bag,” he stated flatly. The bag itself was cool, depending on what it could actually do. From Fen, he learned enchanted could mean anything, and it wasn’t always good.
“The boots are good for sneaking up on people. Stealth boots, if you will, and the enchanted bag can hold as much as you want. Clichéd, I know, but that’s kind of how we do things around here. We do love us some clichés.” Harry laughed. “‘Sides, the bag does have some limits and is special. Can’t store foods or fragile items. The foods will go eventually go bad, and things like glass will break if you’re not careful. Only five of these babies are being released into the game.”
“Wow.” Wolfgang blinked, stunned but still a little disappointed.
“I can tell from the looks on your faces you were expecting things with a bit more wow factor. Armor and weapons and all that, yeah?”
“Yeah . . .”
“Well, you boys already got some of the best armor and weapons out there. You found the Boar’s Head, for one, and the armor shop.”
“How did you . . .”
“You bought specialty items,” Harry said. “One of a kind specialty items to boot. You know we keep track of that kind of stuff to prevent player theft and fraud. I guarantee you, the quest promises to be quite intense. You’re not gonna know what’ll come in handy until you need it.”
“At least you’ll be able to sneak up on Fen now,” Daniel said helpfully.
Wolfgang pursed his lips, considering his brother’s words for a moment then nodded. For the life of him, he’d never been able to sneak up on Fen. He’d stripped almost completely naked and failed even then.
“Yeah. There’s that.”
“Great!” Harry clapped his hands together. “It’s settled then. Good luck to both of you. A supervisor will be along shortly to help you get set up.”
Harry pushed himself to his feet with a groan and hobbled out of the conference room. Daniel leaned back in his chair.
“I can’t believe it.” He laughed. “I simply can’t believe it! This is turning out to be an awesome day! First we get these upgrades. They’re weird upgrades but unique. Next we can get rid of that loser Lance and teach him a lesson for trying to mess with Fen. This is great!”
“Yeah . . .” Wolfgang glanced around and saw them.
They were Alethea Light and her best friend, a guy by the name of Jordan Taylor, and they strode by the conference room. Wolfgang sat a little straighter in his seat and watched her walk by, his heart quite literally skipping a beat. It wasn’t the first time he’d seen her around – they’d attended some of the same classes throughout the semester – but he’d barely paid any attention to her before. She wasn’t the type of girl he normally chose to date. Girls like Bambi, his twin’s latest crush, who were tall and slender, their bodies sculpted like ancient Greek statues usually caught his and Daniel’s attentions. They weren’t interested in long-term relationships like Fen, and they certainly weren’t interested girls like Alethea. She wasn’t exactly tall but not exactly short and still pretty in her own right with her long and dark curly hair askew and extremely intelligent. More than once Wolfgang had heard her, Fen, and Jordan discussing various topics in and out of class, subjects that left his head reeling in confusion. He had no hope of ever keeping up with those three.
‘Wonder what it’d be like to hold her hand . . . Wonder if she even notices me . . . why am I even thinking that?’
“Why can’t we just beat up that dude and leave it at that?” he asked Daniel absently.
“Because then we’ll be the ones who get suspended. I can’t prove that it’s Trenton anyway, not without trying to hack the system. Besides, don’t you think it’s odd that some blond-haired dude approaches Fen in the game and starts a fight with him? Then lurks around, just waiting for Fen to come back?” Daniel’s eyes glinted when Wolfgang cast a quick look at him. “I’m telling you Lance is Trenton, but we can’t just start a fight with anyone. We gotta be smart about it, like Fen would be. Beating that jackass at his own game is the only way to get him to leave Fen alone.”
“Oh. Right . . .”
“Dude,” Daniel complained. “What’s gotten into you?”
“Nothing. I just want to . . .”
He’d just gotten to his feet to chase after her when she and Jordan rounded the corner. At the same time, a staff member wearing the trademark white dress shirt and grey suit jacket and pants entered the room from a side door.
“Daniel and Wolfgang Evans,” he said with a smile, “my name is Jason, and we’re ready for you. Let’s get you set up, shall we? Right this way, please.”
“Man, Fen is not going to believe this!” Daniel crowed. “I can’t wait to tell him and see his face!”
“You sound like you’re gonna be bragging.” Wolfgang gave his twin a rather pointed and disgusted look. Daniel hesitated for a second.
“Yeah. Guess you’re right. Still can’t wait to tell him, though. He really isn’t going to believe this, and you know it! Think he might like that whistle?”
“Dunno.” Wolfgang shrugged. He glanced in the direction he’d seen Alethea and Jordan walking, hoping to catch a glimpse of the girl. His shoulders drooped in disappointment when he didn’t. “Only way to find out will be to ask him. Even if he can’t use it, he might know when.”
“True . . .” Daniel punched him in the shoulder. “What’s up, bro? It’s like you’re not even paying attention to what I’m saying. You look like Fen right now, all sad and droopy faced.”
“It’s nothing.” Wolfgang shook his head. “Come on. Let’s gear up and have some fun. Still can’t believe Fen told us to come here without him.”
“Yeah, I know. Something’s really bothering him. We’ll ask him about it when he gets here. In the meantime, we’ve got some business to take care of before he gets here. You read for this?”
“As ready as I’ll ever be.”
“Great.” Daniel slung an arm over his shoulder. “Because this is going to be fun!”
Jason stopped outside one of the gaming rooms. He turned to the twins and smiled.
“You two ready to begin the gaming adventure of your lives?”
“You bet we are!” Daniel grinned.
“Great. Let’s get started. What personal items do you have on you that you would like to have copies of in the game?”
Wolfgang hesitated. Out of everything on him, he really only wanted his Thor’s hammer pendant, owl brooch, which he’d just purchased last night, and a picture of him, Fen, and Danny together. It was an old time style photograph, one that resembled a painting more than an actual photograph, but he liked it all the same. He always carried the picture with him. Having such a treasured item in the game meant more than what words could ever convey to him. The pendant and the brooch just felt like they belonged on him at all times.
“I just want these,” Daniel said, holding up his Thor’s hammer and owl brooch. “What about you, Wolf?”
“Same, really, and this.” He pulled the picture out of his pocket. “Can I have that and let my best friend use the rest of my item upgrade? He’d know more about what we’d need than I would.”
“The picture won’t be a problem,” Jason said. “Who is your friend? I can relay the information on to the owners to see if it’s possible. Just so you know, I don’t think that you can transfer upgrades like that, but I can always try. Just to be sure.”
“I wanna do that, too, if we can,” Daniel said.
“For Fen Willows,” Wolfgang added.
The supervisor nodded then scanned their items with his wrist tablet. When he finished with that, Jason typed everything into the wall console outside the simulator. Daniel bounced a little next to Wolfgang.
“I’m sorry, guys,” Jason said, “but I can’t transfer the rest of this particular upgrade to your friend. This is specific for the two of you. I’m also seeing that he’s receiving the same thing so maybe the three of you can talk about what to bring. Your new weapons and armor will be in your room at The Raven’s Inn along with most of your upgrades. Your personal effects we’re adding in will appear on you.”
“Really,” the man confirmed.
“Then I guess we’re good to go,” Daniel said. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. If you decide there’s anything else you want to add, come find me and I’ll help you out. Remember to ask for me, Jason Brisingamen. Please enjoy your gaming session.”
Jason left, and Daniel started typing in their gaming parameters. Wolfgang glanced at his photo. Fen’s smile threatened to split his face. Since Trenton had cheated on him and broke his heart, Fen never smiled like that anymore. Fen didn’t want to do much of anything anymore, seemed like to Wolfgang, beyond gaming. The computer beeped, indicating an incoming message.
“Bad news,” Daniel said in a dull voice. “Mom and Dad are going to be out of touch. Again. Top secret mission. Want us to let Fen know that the profs won’t be in touch for a while, either, in case he doesn’t get their message. Getting the order in for our supplies, too. Fen will have our heads if we don’t.”
“All right.” Wolfgang tucked the picture back into his pocket. Such messages weren’t unusual nor huge surprises, though they still hurt when they came. The general and colonel cared more about fighting than they did about their sons. “Let’s just get this over with and keep that jerk away from Fen. Bambi gonna join us? Oh, hey, before we go, can you check something out for me?”
The twins slid into their gaming vests and wrists bands. Daniel glanced at him.
“No. I told her it’d be best if she found someone else to hang around with. Didn’t like her looking at Fen the way she did. It was like she was using us just to get to him or something. Anyway, sure. What do you want to check on, bro?”
“Alethea Light,” Wolfgang answered. “What’s she doing?”
“Alethea?” His twin shot him a baffled, questioning look. “Why her?”
“Because, man. Just check, ‘kay?”
“She is . . .” Daniel’s fingers flew across the LED keyboard. “She is currently gearing up to start a quest in a small village called Thorsville, which is having troubles with some undead creatures called the Draug . . . You know, that kind of sounds like fun. Fen might like that. Maybe we can do that, too. Definitely be more challenging than Kobolds. Let’s run that by him, see what he thinks when he gets here.”
“After we take care of some business first.”
“Right!” Daniel grinned. He continued to type commands into the computer. “Healing potions and bandages all set, everything Fen likes to use, and we have us the half the floor of an inn waiting for us in Valkyrie’s Cove. We are ready to rock!”
“Voice and iris recognition initiated. State player names,” the computer intoned.
“Daniel ‘the Elf’ Evans.”
“‘Sir’ Wolfgang Evans.”
“Player names accepted. State your destination.”
“Tulupa,” they answered.
“Destination accepted. Enjoy your gaming experience.”
A soft white light showered over them. The scenery shifted from the grey walls of Portal to the empty alley behind The Raven’s Inn. Wolfgang stared at the door. Next to him, Daniel inhaled a small breath. His elf ears were now the only things separating the twins in appearance.
“Time to get this show on the road,” Daniel muttered. “I’ll meet you upstairs.”
They headed inside, and Wolfgang clutched his Thor’s hammer in his hand.
‘I hope we’re doing the right thing.’
Inside their room, their armor, new and old, lay on the beds with their weapons propped against the wall. Wolfgang slid into his old armor first, sort of one last huzzah before he headed off to find the two-headed fire wyvern.
“Here goes nothing,” he muttered. “Danny, you better know what the hell you’re doing, or I’m gonna be punching you in the face for this.”
* * *
Daniel tried not to fidget in his hiding spot. Fen had just shown up at the location Lance had told him, a part of their “trade”. Lance claimed to have some information and a trinket for them, things to aid them on their journey to the fire wyvern, but the swordsman wasn’t about to say what until he fought Fen and defeated him. Knowing he had to let this creep near his best friend grated on Daniel.
‘I’ve got a part to play,’ he told himself. ‘Nothing more. Nothing less. Dude won’t get away with bullying Fen anyway. Fen won’t allow it, and neither will I.’
“I don’t like this,” Wolfgang whispered. “I really don’t like this.”
“Me neither, but, if things get too bad, we’ll jump in, promise,” Daniel whispered back. “We’re not gonna let anything bad happen to Fen.”
“Welcome . . . Fen Willows.”
Lance’s voice floated to him on the breeze. Daniel glanced back in their friend’s direction. Fen whirled around to face Lance, and their friend reached for his sword. The swordsman held his blade, ready to fight. His dark brown cloak floated in the breeze. Daniel held his breath and waited.
“A little spooked?” the man asked. He took two steps towards him. “I expected a little more . . . strength from you. Or perhaps you simply were not anticipating to find me upon your arrival?”
Fen forced himself to stand straight. His hand remained on the hilt of his sword, and he stepped forward.
“In all honesty?” he said. “No. I only half-expected to see you again. I wanted to look for you but figured it was going to be impossible. I didn’t know what you looked like. That would have made searching for you difficult. I wasn’t sure if you’d stuck around, either. Not exactly encouraging thoughts.”
“I see . . . the fact you wanted to search for me is flattering,” the man said. Daniel heard the smirk in his voice and wanted to sneak up on Lance from behind. “Though to hear you chose to give up is rather disappointing. Understandable but disappointing.”
“Well, you flatter me,” Fen replied. He radiated strength and confidence. “The fact you still like to sneak up on people is more than a little disappointing.”
“I flatter you? How did you reach that conclusion?”
“You sought me instead,” Fen explained. “Not sure why, but you did. You learned my name and observed me when I never noticed you. You’re the one challenging me, after all, not the other way around. I didn’t hide in the shadows and pick a fight at my convenience. You did. I’m quite content to mind my own business.”
“A well thought out argument. I’ve heard as much about you. I must admit, I thought it all to be exaggeration. Now I can see it is true. You are not like the typical warriors I have encountered over the years. This is good.”
“And yet I still know very little about you,” Fen said. “I think that’s hardly fair.”
“Do you now?” The man tilted his head.
“Get to it, man,” Daniel muttered under his breath. “Get to it. We haven’t got all flipping day for you to show your true self.”
“I do. You know my name, but I don’t know yours. A little uneven footing between us, in my opinion.”
“Hmmm . . . I suppose you will want a remedy for that.”
“It would be nice,” Fen admitted. He drew his sword but kept the tip pointed towards the ground. “Of course, if you’re afraid to divulge even that much, I do understand.”
Lance struck quickly with his blade, and Daniel clenched his hands together. Fen almost hit the ground, but he caught himself in time. His best friend raised his sword up, ready to fight.
“We’ve talked long enough,” Lance said. “I grow weary of unnecessary conversation. Let’s settle this, shall we?”
“Yeah,” Fen agreed. “Let’s end this.”
“Try not to disappoint me.”
Metal clashing against metal rang over the empty field. Daniel’s anxiety threatened to overcome him. Lance was skilled. Fen’s forehead glistened with sweat as their fight continued on before ending abruptly after Lance announced his name with Ravenschylde added and another exchange, this time about so-called warriors who trounced on the weak. Daniel disliked such players almost as much as Fen did. He had no problems teasing Fen and other mages for being magic-users, but only when he knew for certain no offense would be taken. He wasn’t that cruel of a person. The blond-haired man tossed Fen something then started to lead Fen to a wagon. Fen’s eyes drooped with exhaustion.
“Time to get moving,” Daniel said. “We’ve got a part to play. Remember that, Wolf. Looks like Fen’s game is about to reset itself. Good. That loser will be on his way without Fen.”
They strode with confidence towards Lance and his wagon.
“How long were you two watching?” Lance asked. He turned around to face them. They stared at him in shock, and Lance stiffened. He shot them the oddest look.
“How did you . . .” Daniel began.
“You promised to deliver me what I wanted,” Lance said. “Rather than trust Fen Willows, as I’ve heard you’ve claimed you do, you had to be sure he arrived. Because of that, I knew you would come here. Now answer my question. How long have you been watching?”
“Long enough to see that you didn’t kill Fen,” Wolfgang replied. “Why?”
“My reasons for what I do are my own. I do not have to answer you for something that is not your concern. You are not heading my way. You came for what I have heard about the wyvern, correct?”
Daniel nodded as did Wolfgang. Another dirty look from Lance followed, but he offered them exactly what he promised.
“The name of the city is Valkyrie’s Cove. It is nestled snug against the Fates’ Death Sea.” Lance kept his gaze on them cool. He retrieved a blue dragon statuette and some yellow stones from a chest at the front of the wagon and handed them over. “It is a fortnight’s journey from here. As for who you should speak with, well, there are many an old timer who will speak to you of wyverns. King Lopt and his family are especially a favorite tavern topic, if you’ve the money and time to listen. Beyond that, all I can tell you is to look for the double golden ourorboros. That will be the sign that you are close.”
“Who did you speak to about King Lopt and his wyvern?” Wolfgang asked. His excitement felt forced to Daniel, and he inwardly groaned at his brother’s inability to think on his feet.
“No one,” Lance replied. “I was not there on some fool’s errand. King Lopt, his kin, and his wyvern hold no interest for me.”
“Why were you there?” Daniel asked.
“Again, my reasons for where I have been and what I am doing are my own,” Lance said. “I have given you what you have asked for, including which way to travel and what to look for on your journey. Valkyrie’s Cove is in the heart of King Lopt’s old realm. What you do with what I have told you is at your discretion.”
“Of course,” Daniel said, bowing. “Forgive us for delaying you, and we wish you the best of luck in your journey.”
“You have my gratitude for your assistance and well wishes for your journey as well. Fare thee well.”
“Fare thee well.”
Lance turned away from them. He climbed into the seat and urged the horses to leave, and he never looked back. Daniel waved and grinned.
“So long, sucker!” he said in a low voice.
“You realize Fen is going to be furious with us when we’re done here, right?”
Daniel glanced at his brother. For once, their roles were reversed. Wolfgang now worried over Fen’s reaction to their course of action as opposed to him. It felt good for a change, to not be the anxious one over their gaming shenanigans and their best friend’s reaction. It served his twin right for all the trouble he liked to cause. At least their staged fighting paid off. Wolfgang stared in the direction the stranger had gone. Daniel shrugged.
“I’m sure he’ll get over it once he realizes it,” Daniel said. “Besides, if that man is right and we can find out more about the quest in Valkyrie’s Cove, Fen will not only forgive us, but he’ll thank us. It isn’t like he’ll be able to take Fen very far anyway.”
“True . . .” He appeared dubious. “Fen’s probably wondering how come his gaming time ended the way it did.”
“Exactly,” Daniel said. “He’ll resume his game as soon as he resets his character and finds us in the village. He’ll be mad at our prank and yell at us for what we’ve done. Which he needs to do some yelling. It’ll be good for him. It’ll get everything about Trenton and their break-up out of his system. Anyway, we’ll be forgiven eventually, and everything will work out. Quit making such a big deal about it. That reminds me. When he gets back, I need to warn him about Bambi. I’m not sure why she’s so interested in him all of sudden, but I don’t like it. I like her, but I like Fen more. I don’t want to see him hurting more than what he already is.”
“All right . . . we’ve got some plans to make anyway, don’t we?”
“Yep. Let’s get our armor on and do some questing. Afterwards, we can celebrate with some triple decker cheeseburgers, milkshakes, and jumbo onion rings,” Daniel said. He steered Wolfgang around so they faced Tulupa. “Sounds good, doesn’t it?”
“Yeah. It does.”
“Then let’s get to it, shall we?”
They walked in silence for several moments. A warm breezed picked up. Daniel prepared himself for what he intended to say to Fen the moment they found him in Tulupa. He really didn’t want to tell his best friend about why they decided to prank another player, but Fen needed to know, deserved to know what Daniel had overheard Trenton saying.
“You sure Lance is really Trenton?” Wolfgang asked.
“Had to be,” Daniel answered. “Why else would he be so interested in chasing Fen around? He never did like Fen hanging around us so much or playing the game. He’d do anything to keep Fen shattered and from healing. He thinks he can keep Fen eating out of the palm of his hand.”
“I don’t know . . . Lance didn’t really look like Trenton to me. And he was too good with that sword. Trenton hated gaming. Complained that Fen spent too much time with us and at Portal when Fen was already with him more often than not. Something isn’t right about Lance.”
“Listen, bro.” Daniel stopped and spun his twin to face him. “Listen good. I didn’t want to say anything because I know you can’t keep a secret worth a shit, but that had to be Trenton. I overheard him last week bragging about how he knew of a way he could win Fen back and Fen wouldn’t even know it was him. Now if I can get away with having Elf ears in a game, I have no doubts he could make himself look and sound different, too. The bastard cheated on our best friend and thinks he can get away with it. I’m not gonna . . . What? What is it?”
Wolfgang pointed at his head.
“Your Elf ears are gone.”