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Real Life on the Seventh Floor

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🔥 𝑅𝑒𝒶𝓁 𝓁𝒾𝒻𝑒 𝑜𝓃 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝓈𝑒𝓋𝑒𝓃𝓉𝒽 𝒻𝓁𝑜𝑜𝓇 🔥

𝒞𝒽𝒶𝓅𝓉𝑒𝓇 𝑜𝓃𝑒


 

   You frowned inwardly as you floated across the landscape of the seventh floor, the chunks of rock and streams of lava of no consequence to you.  The air was heavy with the scent of sulfur and earth, and occasionally a flurry of ash flew by, but your dreary surroundings were not what was causing you to frown.  Not by a long shot.

  This scene was, on the contrary, comforting to you.  This was your last chance to see it in this way. The end had come, and in the final minutes of the world, this was where you chose to be.

  Perhaps you were being slightly over dramatic.  It’s not like the real world were ending.  Your life wasn’t over, you would continue on.  But with this, all of this ending...

  As you touched your now solid feet to the ground, having reached your destination, you reached over and put your hand on a marble pillar, appreciating the craftsmanship for one final time as you passed by.  With all this ending, you did feel like part of your soul was being ripped away with it.

  A jangling noise filled the air with each step, courtesy of the numerous anklets you wore over your bare feet.  It echoed through the ruins you walked through, and the sound raised your spirits a bit as you thought over the shape you had lovingly formed over the years.

  You had chosen the form of a djinn, a blue-skinned spirit that specialized in magic.  With a body that could change from solid matter to a opaque mist and six upper limbs (two wings and four arms) with four horns sprouting from your head, two of which arched backwards like the horns of a ram, it felt odd to say that you looked very much like your regular human self, but you did.  Especially when comparing to the other members of your guild. Your form was very humanoid, and you had spent hours grumbling over the character creator options, trying to shape your most humanoid features to be true to life. You were pleased with the results, and it was only after your friends pointed out that they could now probably recognize you on the street that you had taken to wearing a mask so other players outside your guild could never say the same.

  Now, finally arriving at your goal, you reached a hand up and moved that mask away from your face.  The obstruction it caused your vision was minimal, but you didn’t want to miss one inch of this last view.

  The burning temple was made to be beautiful, yes, but only in a way that was haunting and broken.  It didn’t hold the quiet awe of the sky of the sixth floor, or the intricately lined up symmetry of the ninth floor.  It was messy in a purposeful way, and you loved that. One thing here, however, was beautiful without the mess.

  If the face of your avatar could change, it would have broken into a smile at the sight.  Truth be told, your avatar was always smiling, the mischievous smirk of a wish-granting trickster, but that didn’t stop your posture from conveying the change, hands rising and back pulling straight.  There he was, the last piece you needed, the one you had saved to be the crowning moment in your work.

  Demiurge.

  You had fawned over him from the moment Ulbert had told you his idea for the NPC.  Of course, you never told Ulbert that; while he loved his creation, Demiurge to him was the embodiment of all he found to be evil.  It would have made for some awkward situations if you had told him you found the devil to be more than just “badass”.

  Tapping the air, you pulled up his info sheet, scrolling through it fondly before tapping again just to the side.  Another menu appeared, one you had crafted into the game yourself, having found a beta version online someone else had been trying to develop.  It was what you had used over the past month on so many other areas and NPCs, and you were quite proud of it.  Placing a finger on a button, you had it run an update check as you looked back at the red-suited devil in front of you.

  It was a shame.  You didn’t want to leave.  You didn’t want this place to leave you .  The work you had put forth here in Yggdrasil in your spare time was the best you could manage to alleviate that, using this tool to copy the base information of your favorite locations and characters.  Which, to be fair, was a lot. It had taken you forever to get to this point, but here you were at last, with just enough time left on the clock to take a facade of your favorite NPC back home with you to load up to some VR goggles and sigh about the good old days, talking into space with him at your side as you had grown accustomed to doing.

  Your tool’s menu dinged, and you glanced over.  One new update?  Something had changed in what you had already downloaded?  You shrugged; Momonga was here as well, probably in the throne room where the update had come from. You felt a twinge of guilt at not being there with him, but you knew that he probably wanted these last few moments to himself as much as you did. The two of you had been dear friends, but not as close as some other members had been.  You knew you wanted to each have your own final experience here.  Speaking of which… you glanced at the time in your menu display.  Five minutes left before midnight.  Plenty of time.

  You clicked on a button and dragged it from your menu to Demiurge’s profile, dropping it over it and letting the tool begin it’s work.  Yesterday you had copied the temple, and now it should take less than a minute to make a copy of Ulbert’s NPC. Less than a minute… leaving plenty of time.  Sadly you looked over at the devil. Sure. “Plenty”.

  “Well… this is it, I guess,” you said quietly.  His face was just as unresponsive as yours. “Yggdrasil is done. I guess I need to focus on real life now. But, I’ll tell you a secret.”  You leaned in, as though it were actually a secret. “I really would rather not.” You sighed. “Well! At least you don’t have to listen to me yap at you constantly.  I’m sure I get pretty annoying. I wouldn’t be surprised if—”

  Your words got cut off by a beep.  Already? You went to check the menu.  The download was supposed to be fast, but—

  Oh no.

  Something was wrong.

  “No, nonono not now,” you hissed, panic gripping your heart as you looked over the menu.  “Fatal error” messages flooded your view, and you clicked and dropped furiously, trying to figure out what had happened.  You opened the source code, scanning along for the problem but finding nothing.  It had been working fine for a month!  What could have possibly changed now, what could have— you glanced at the time—

  One minute left.

  Frantically, you raced through the tool, comparing it against the profile you were copying; you were still in the dark, you didn’t understand how or why this could be happening— one warning box stood out from the rest— why was it trying to copy your item box?!  The data must have gotten mixed up— did that even make sense?!—

  Fifteen seconds.

  There was no time.  No time for anything.

  Why, oh why did you think this would be a good idea??

  Your favorite.  The one creation you hadn’t wanted to lose, the reason you’d been documenting Nazarick in the first place, and this was how it was going to end?

  You couldn’t help yourself.  You felt what was like an echo of the tears on your real life skin as you looked at him, then decided to throw propriety and the fact that this wasn’t your own NPC to the wind and threw your arms around him, all four of them with wings overlaying, and your body shook with the tears your avatar couldn’t show.

  “I’m so sorry,” you sobbed.  “I shouldn’t have waited.  I wish I could take you with me.”

  You felt his arms come around your own, holding you close as you shook.  The tears were hot on your cheeks, soaking into the fabric of his suit.

  “And I as well,” you heard him croon quietly.

  You sighed, the validated sadness replacing your panic—

  Which jumped right back up to ten as you froze.  NPCs didn’t hug back.  NPCs didn’t talk.

  Gasping, you leapt backwards, and he released you immediately.  He was looking at you with not a small amount of confusion, and you saw his attention flick back and forth from you to his surroundings.

  He was moving.  Demiurge was moving, his face was portraying emotions—

  And you no longer had four arms.  Your feet didn’t jangle as you stepped back.  And—

  You were in your apartment.

  Demiurge was alive.  And in your apartment.

  “...Heh.  Heh-heh.  Huh.”  The strangled laugh came forth involuntarily from your throat.  Demiurge looked at you, a very concerned frown on his face.

  “My… my Lady, what—”  He dropped to a knee.  “Forgive me.  I’m not… quite certain what is happening… It is… still you, isn’t it, Lady Zoba?”  His tail whipped around to the side of him, just missing knocking into your coffee table, his gaze trained on the carpeted floor.

  “Z-Zoba…  Yeah, yeah that’s me,” you squeaked.  “Zoba the Four-Horned Djinn.  Yup.  And… This is my apartment.  My home.  With… with you in it.”

  Demiurge shuddered.  “The home of a Supreme Being…  My intrusion is unworthy!”  His bow dropped even lower, but you heard tension in his voice.  “Your words have brought me to you, I have no doubt!  But nevertheless, I am undeserving of such an honor.  Therefore, I will take whatever punishment you bestow upon me, but-- forgive me… Lady Zoba… why have you brought me here?  Am I…”  He risked a glance up.  “Am I to serve you personally?”

  Oh, geez.  Oh, heavens above and hell below.

  That was the final straw.  Without another word, you turned on your heel and ‘nope’d right out of there.

  “M-my Lady?”

  “Yup just a sec I just gotta go in here and take a second I just uh yeah I’ve got--  hhhhhhhhhh--”  You shut the bedroom door behind you.  “Huuuuuuuuuuuuuuu--”  You clumsily sat down on the edge of your bed.

  What the actual hell.  Demiurge.  In your living room.  In your tiny two-bedroom apartment, in the real world.  IRL Demiurge.  Full on tail, pointy ears, everything.

  What had happened.

  You put a hand to your face and realized you were still wearing your gaming headpiece.  It was a beta test gamewear you had received anonymously in the mail, and it sat over your head and had two sensors that rested on your temples.  Normally it would transmit your mind into the game.  However now as your felt the two pieces, you realized they were hot to the touch, and as you pulled the headpiece off, you twinged in pain.  Heat from the tarnished-looking sensors had burned your head, and you felt the dewiness of raw skin as you touched your fingers lightly to the contact points.  Feeling the new sensitivity, you gasped.

  “My Lady?!”  You heard the voice from beyond the door.  Suddenly it burst open, and you squealed as Demiurge once again entered your field of vision.  Thank goodness you’d just cleaned up in here a bit; the mortification of the demon seeing your room in it’s typical messy state would have been enough to throw you over the edge.  “I heard a cry! Are you alright? Please, how may I ease your pain?!” He saw the injuries on your head, your hand still near one point, and the headpiece in your opposite hand.

  He did a quick risk analysis.

  Deciding your well-being was more important than your possible displeasure, he acted without asking for permission; inquiries were obviously getting him nowhere anyways.  With one stride he was next to you, and dropped once again to a knee.  Removing the headpiece from your hand and tossing it behind you onto the bed, he placed gloved fingertips over the side of your head.  “My skill is limited,” he admitted as a green glow began to light from his palm, “but I do have the required ability to repair this damage.”

  Before you could protest, a surge of energy filled you.  It was like you had just woken from a full night’s sleep, drank an energy drink with no bad aftertaste, and just walked out of the doctor’s office with a clean bill of health.  Alongside this feeling of new life, your head felt a bit lighter, as though you had spun in too many circles a bit too quickly, and dizziness tilted your vision ever so slightly.  Your eyes opened wide, and you took in a sudden deep breath. The points on your head no longer stung, and as you looked at Demiurge, you could tell he was pleased with his work.

  “Yes, much better.  How are you feeling, Lady Zoba?”

  You gulped.  His hand hadn’t moved from your head, and his face was very close to yours.  You looked down. He had knelt quite near you, and your right knee was so very, very close to touching his inner thigh…

  “Great,” you squeaked.  He smiled, and opened his mouth to say something more, but your mouth kept moving.  “Mira.”

  He paused, unsure what to make of your statement.

  “Mira,” you repeated.  “That’s-- Zoba’s the name I use in Yggdrasil, Mira is my real name.  I’m-- you can call me Mira.”

  He took in a sharp breath.  You saw his lips frame the word, but as he went to speak it aloud--  “M-my Lady, I have done nothing to deserve this honor. I--”

  “Wait, don’t— Please.  Please stop.”  It was too much.  You were so overwhelmed, but at your sharp words, he cowered backwards, sliding away from you and lowering his gaze to the floor once again.  He was silent, a look of stern shame on his face. Aw, crap, now you’d just made it worse. You put your face in your hands and took a deep breath before trying again.

  “Look.  I’m going to try and explain what’s inside my head right now, and I really, really need you to just… listen.  Until I get it all out there.”

  He remained still, other than his tail whipping back slightly at the end.

  “Ok.  First of all… I need you to know that I am absolutely terrified right now.  I don’t understand what just happened. I really would like to say that I did this, or that I did it on purpose, but I-- And honestly, I’m scared to tell you this because you’re kind of terrifying to admit this to with how powerful you are and how you feel about humans like me--”

  You saw him wince as though you had struck him, and you quickly backpedaled.

  “I don’t mean that-- I’m not saying you’ve done anything wrong, I just--  I didn’t bring you here, Demiurge.  I mean, if I could have done this, I would have!  I absolutely-- But…”  You groaned.  “Ok… I’m… just a regular human.  I’m not… I’m not the person you think I am, I’m not really a powerful djinn, that’s just an avatar I built up for myself.  I’m just me.  No special powers, nothing.”  Your words had grown quiet.  “I’m not someone to treat like this.  And honestly, it’s kinda too much anyways?  I-- I’d rather just… be on the level with you.  If… if you want to.”  You looked at him nervously.  His breathing had quickened, but still he didn’t move.  “--Oh!  Right, um, that’s it.  That’s all, I think.”

  The silence lasted a few moments longer before Demiurge took a deep breath.  “My Lady,” he began, obviously choosing his words carefully.  “This news is… unexpected.  But more importantly, obviously distressing to you.  I feel the first matter I should address is in regards to myself.  You say you are human, and I would address that further, but before I do, let me assure you; if you attribute yourself to this race, know that I would never bring you or those important to you harm.  Further, if this is who you are, then my ideas are what is incorrect, and I will work diligently to correct myself on the matter.  Secondly, I cannot imagine treating you as less than what you are; a Supreme Being, a creator of the highest degree, and whether by your design or not, my means of conveyance to your realm.  You are not nothing.”  He spit the last words as though they were painful.  “You are everything.  And, third.  On the matter of your humanity and lack of power, I must humbly disagree.”

  You made a small whine, about to argue at least on that point, but he pushed forward.  “The spell I used just now was not a simple healing spell; my own MP was not depleted by it.  The spell is called Devil’s Deal, and it allows me to use the energy of a creature other than myself to heal.  Lady Zo--... Lady Mira…”  He spoke your name slowly, with reverence.  “The MP I used was your own.  And while it is not, admittedly, as it was in Yggdrasil, it is not in short supply.”  He turned his head up to you.

  “You are truly a powerful being.  And I do pledge myself anew to serve you, Lady Mira.”