Forgotten Princess

“Guys, I need help with a quest,” Frank said. The 14-year-old boy sat on a metal picnic table in the school’s courtyard with his friends. Dozens of other students sat in their own groups enjoying their lunch hour.

“What quest?” Jasmine, a girl with long dark hair, asked before stuffing half a burger in her mouth.

“It’s on Oren’s server. We have to rescue a princess from a goblin cave,” Frank explained. Jasmine could not reply with her mouth full of half-chewed food and she pointed at another girl named Paz. Paz nodded and pulled her node out. She swiped at the small, clear rectangle until she found the reviews; then, she made a face that was half disgust and half annoyance. Her dark brown eyes narrowed in Frank’s direction, then she turned towards Jasmine.

“It’s a lowbie quest on a retro server. It’s easy, but,” she held up her node, “no one thinks the loot is worth it.” Paz shrugged as she reported her findings to Jasmine. Then, she turned towards Frank, “Levels don’t even matter anymore, anyone can solo it. What do you need help with?” She asked him.

“The princess that needs rescuing…,” Frank paused and looked around. He did not really know any of his friends yet. He was still a freshman and only met them that year. He guessed Jasmine and Paz would believe him. Hector, a short, sturdy teenager, might. Hector’s friend Ricky definitely wouldn’t, and Alanna hardly ever talked. Worst case two of them wouldn’t believe him. He decided he could live with that. “I talked to her. I think she’s real. A Unique.”

“Is she pretty?” Ricky sat up attentively. Hector slugged Ricky in the arm.

“Why do you think that?” Jasmine asked, then took another bite.

“She talked to me. I mean, she talked to ME,” Frank brought his hand to his chest and patted his green t-shirt. “Off script. She asked me for help.”

“Probably just a follow-up quest,” Paz suggested. Frank shook his head.

“I’ve been going back pretty regularly, she remembers me every time. If you guys meet her, you’ll see what I mean.”

“I’ll go,” Ricky offered.

“Me too,” Hector said. Jasmine and Paz also agreed to go.

“I can’t. Tutoring with Dirge,” Alanna shook her head. “But let me know what you find out,” she asked Jasmine. The girl replied with a thumbs up gesture, Alanna did not know if the girl had food in her mouth still or again.

After school, the five of them met in front of a dark cave as a group of adventurers. Frank was a monk clad in green robes embellished with gold thread. Ricky wore black necromancer robes, Hector was a bard in leather armor. Paz a plate wearing knight with a large battle axe strapped to her back. Jasmine wore a long-bow over her shoulder and leather armor in greens and browns.  Paz placed a heavy gauntlet on Frank’s shoulder and locked eyes with him.

“I want you to know I hate retro servers,” she shifted uncomfortably in her armor. “If it is just a follow-up quest, I’m gonna hit you. Hard.” Frank chuckled, but he caught sight of Jasmine nodding.

“She will,” Jasmine said.

“Trust me. C’mon,” Frank led the way into the cave. “There’s no monsters on the way in, but we’ll be ambushed on the way out,” he explained. He led them deep into the cave to a giant cage made from what appeared to be bones. The group saw a dark-haired princess standing patiently.

“She’s really pretty,” Ricky commented.

“Focus,” Frank said. He rushed to the cage and unlocked it. The princess stepped out and looked at the group.

“Thank you for rescuing me. Please guide me to the entrance of the cave. From there I can journey safely to my home,” she said.

“Can I hit him now?” Paz asked Jasmine.

“It’s okay,” Frank told the princess. “They’re here to help me. They know.”  The princess’ body relaxed from its tense posture and her eyes sparkled to life.

“Really? THANK YOU!” she stepped forward to hug Frank. Frank glanced at Paz and pointed at the woman hugging him as if to say, “see?”

“What do you know about yourself?” Jasmine asked the princess. The woman shrugged.

“Nothing,” she shook her head. “This stupid quest is all I can remember, but I feel like there’s more for me if I could leave the cave.”

“How long have you been here?” Paz asked.

“I don’t know. I don’t even think I was conscious until I met Frank,” she replied.

“Hmmm,” Paz’s iron gauntlet on her right hand disintegrated into white dust and formed her node. She began navigating it with her thumb.

“Oren’s server is about 900 years old,” Paz said. “If you’ve been here since then…”

“What?” The princess asked with wide eyes. She grabbed Paz’s metal shoulders and shook her. “What did you say??” Jasmine placed a hand on the woman’s shoulder to try and calm her down.

“900 years is a long time, but we’ll help yo-“

“NO!! The name!”

“Oren?” Frank asked.

A quivering smile grew on the princess’ face. Her crystal blue eyes began to water.

“I know that name!” she shook her head. “I can’t remember anything, but I know that name!!! Bring him! Please, can you bring Oren here???” Jasmine squeezed the princess’ shoulder and shook her head.

“No one knows where he is,” she apologized.

“I do,” Paz said quietly.  “Jenny made me promise not to tell anyone… but if I go alone, then I didn’t tell anyone, right?” Jasmine nodded.

“Is it something quick?” she asked. Paz shook her head.

“Not even a little bit.”

Orientation (2-27-18)

[WP] “Excellent choice, we shall transport you immediately,” the voice says as you step back from the console labelled PERSONAL UNIVERSE RELOCATOR.[Link to post.]

“Hey, you hear that? I made an excellent choice,” Ricky said. He looked at the other occupants of the small room. His best friend, Hector, and two people he met six months ago for the first time. A short man with a tall blue mohawk who called himself Vegas, and a woman with short spikey black hair and golden arms named Jenny.

“It’s a recording. It says that no matter what you pick,” Jenny said. Hector chuckled

“Yeah man,” he said while still laughing. “Besides, you don’t even know what universe you picked. You just pressed buttons randomly.”

“Traversing in 3,” the console began a countdown. The lights dimmed, then Ricky and Hector took a step closer to Vegas and Jenny.

“Why are we using this? I thought you guys could do it without the equipment?” Hector asked. Over the past 6 months since Ricky and Hector met Vegas and Jenny, the strangers taught them a lot, and revealed some of their secrets.

“Jenny can,” Vegas said. “But it’s important for you to know how to use this, because we’re not always going to be around.” Vegas idly rolled a poker chip along the top of his fingers while they waited.

“1. Traversing,” the console said. The lights went out completely for several seconds, then they reignited. They still stood in the same small room.

“Everything still looks the same,” Ricky complained to Hector.

“Of course it does,” Jenny said. She took a step forward toward the door they came in through. “You guys are still *in the elevator*, you know? C’mon out and take a look.” Jenny opened the door and the fluorescent lights of the confining room were drowned out by red sunlight. She quickly shut the door again, and locked it.

“Nope, bad choice Ricky,” Jenny chuckled and back to the console. “Just a second, let me update this, then we can try again.” Jenny began typing on the console.

“What happened? Hector asked.

“This universe isn’t safe anymore, so it’s gotta be blocked outta the system,” Vegas explained.

“That can happen?” Ricky asked. “How?” Vegas shrugged and went quiet. He made an effort to study the bare walls while Jenny worked on the console.

“Usually it happens naturally. Some universes are really old, and we’ll know ahead of time that it’s going to die. Sometimes someone conquers a universe.

“There’s someone out there with that kind of power?” Ricky asked. Jenny nodded without taking her eyes off her work.

“Tons of someones. Remember, there’s infinite universes out there, and tons of [Unique Souls](http://hserratafun.blogspot.com/2017/11/hugoverse-guidebook.html). Not all of them are good,” Jenny said. “There, that should do it.” She took her golden hands off the keyboard and hit a button.

“Access to this universe has been restricted. Reason: Ballisea. Traversing in 3,” the console said.

“What’s a Ballisea?” Hector asked.

“A Unique. But, not a good one,” Jenny said.

“She was powerful enough to conquer a universe?” Ricky asked with awe in his voice. Vegas chuckled.

“Kid, you don’t know the half of it. Hey, what’s the biggest, definite number you can think of. Not infinity, it needs to be a hard quantity.”

“A one with a trillion zeroes behind it,” Hector answered.

“A one with a trillion *TRILLION* zeroes behind it,” Ricky gave his answer. Vegas nodded at both of them.

“Alright the biggest number, a trillion trillion zeroes. Even if we *doubled* that number, it would still be less than the amount of universes Ballisea has conquered,” Vegas said solemnly.

“That number is just for the Earths. The amount of lives she’s taken is staggeringly unimaginable,” Jenny added.

“Isn’t there anyone that can stop her?” Jenny and Vegas both lightly shook their heads.

“No single person can, but there is someone with a plan. His name is Regal, and you’ll meet him when you start school. He’s the principal at Toku-High,” Jenny said.

Pizza and Promises (1-11-18)

Magic, it happens, is real ; it just takes an innate talent. You and your best friend have it, and just learned about it. [Link to post.]

“This is fantastic!” Hector said. He waved his fingers in the air and released a rainbow of light shaped like musical notes. “We know magic!” Hector danced around in the center of his room, surrounded by by a whirlwind of different colored musical notes. His best friend Ricky sat on the bed and stared at him with a less enthusiastic look on his face. Ricky waved his own hands in the air, he released sparks of purple energy.

“We can *use* magic,” Ricky said. He shook both of his hands and purple energy sprinkled out like a powder. “But I wouldn’t say we *know* magic. Why do you get the cool rainbow notes?” Ricky stood up from the bed and walked toward Hector. He bumped into a green note in the air.

“OW!” Ricky yelled. His hand shot to his upper arm where the note hit.

“Sorry! I didn’t know they did that!” Hector’s panic caused the notes to disappear from the air. He ran
to Ricky’s side to check the damage. Instead of letting him see, Ricky threw a handful of purple powder at Hector’s face.

“Yeah, I don’t know what mine does either.” Ricky laughed at Hector’s frantic movements to get the dust off his face.

“LEAVE ME ALONE! STOP!!” Hector yelled “NO!” He stepped back and stumbled to the ground. He panicked and crab walked backward to a corner of his room. His eyes were wide and his chest heaved with fast, deep breaths. “GO AWAY!!” Tears poured from Hector’s eyes. He rolled curled into his body and buried his head in his knees. “pleaase…” he whimpered.

“Oh shit, I’m sorry!” Ricky shook his hands, unsure of what else to do. Purple powder fell from his hands as he tried to end the effect. He walked to Ricky’s side and knelt down next to him on the floor. “Heck? Hey man, snap out of it.” After several moments Hector looked up with red puffy eyes.

“Whoa.” He elbowed Ricky in the ribs, and allowed his friend to help him up. “Don’t ever do that again… to anyone. That was terrifying.” Hector took several deep breaths to try and calm himself down again. The paranoia was not entirely gone, but it was manageable. Ricky helped his friend sit down on the bed and sat down next to him.

“These things are crazy, man. We’ve really gotta learn how to use them properly, before anyone gets really hurt.” Hector released a golden note into the air. It hit a wall and disappeared. Nothing happened.

“Yeah, but I wish we knew where it came from. I’d love to see if we could get more, or maybe different powers,” Ricky said.

“We got our tattoos a few days ago, maybe the guy used magic ink or something?” Hector lifted his right foot to the bed and pulled down his sock to admire the tattoo. At 14 he needed to keep it hidden from his parents. It was a red and black electric guitar with the number 32, his favorite number, in golden numbers on the soundboard. Ricky put his left hand near Hector’s ankle to look at his tattoo also. It was a dagger with a scroll around it. On the scroll the number 12 was written in gold. Ricky’s parents passed away, so there was no one to punish him for getting a tattoo so young.

“Maybe,” Ricky said. He did not sound convinced. “Anyway, let’s go test these out somewhere. I wanna see what we can do.”

“That’s a good idea, just take it easy with that stuff,” Hector said. The two left Hector’s house and walked to the nearby shopping district. The square was packed with people streaming in and out of shops. The smell of food hit Hector’s nose.

“Hey, maybe we shouldn’t do magic on an empty stomach,” Hector said. He smiled at Ricky and led the way to their favorite pizza shop. The waitress smiled at them as they walked in. Hector nodded at the cute girl.

“Usual,” Hector said. Ricky nodded in agreement and they sat down at their regular table. Ricky’s hand hovered over the rustic wooden table, and he winked at Hector.

“I’m gonna try something,” he said. He released a small, single speck of purple powder from his hand onto the table. The waitress brought their sodas and Ricky flicked the speck of powder at her. She jumped with a yelp the instant it touched her. The sodas spilled all over her uniform, and the glasses shattered on the floor.

“I’M SO SORRY!” The waitress yelled than ran away to the back of the kitchen. Hector kicked Ricky’s shin under the table.

“Asshole, leave her alone!”

“I was just testing it out, we have to learn don’t we? What’s wrong, you like her? She’s like 20, man. She’s not going to be into a kid like you.” Ricky grinned at Hector.

“She’s always nice to us is all, just leave her alone.” Hector grabbed the napkin dispenser and stood from the table. He knelt on the floor to clean up the glass and soda. Hector heard some noises coming from the kitchen, then the cook walked out wheeling a bucket and mop. He reached the table and apologized.

“Janie’s sorry guys. She thought she saw a giant spider on her hand or something. I dunno. I sent her home,” the cook said. He began to pull the mop out, but Hector stopped him.

“I’ll take care of it, just don’t let our pizzas burn,” he smiled at the cook. The cook nodded and walked back to the kitchen. Hector knelt down again to make sure he picked up all the glass, then he mopped up the soda. While he worked Ricky stared at him with annoyance.

“Man, you are too nice.” Ricky complained after Hector returned the mop bucket and sat down again. He brought fresh drinks for both of them. A young woman in a purple and gold hoodie appeared at the side of their table. Hector looked up at her. He caught a twinkle of purple behind her eyes, though the hood kept most of her face in shadow. Her hands were in the front pocket.

“You’re definitely too nice, but that’s a good thing!” the woman said. Her hand moved out of her pocket to pull the hood down. Her blue glowing hair was not as surprising as her golden hands.

“I’m Jenny, can I sit down and talk to you guys for a bit?” She asked. She placed a couple of bills on the table. “I’ll pay for your lunch.” A golden number 46 glowed on her forehead.