Chapter 64: Parting at the Gate

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The remaining road to Zelin City was peaceful. After Erika and Vivi finally passed the Windflora King's domain, there weren't any hostile mobs ahead. Only Water Blobs ran around and tripped. The scenery made Erika fuzzy.

So, this is it, huh.

Zelin City was finally within reach. The city stretched as far as the eye could see, wrapped in towering walls from all sides. Entrance was only allowed through the big gate, guarded by ironclad soldiers.

Everything felt grandiose, much unlike the small and generic Murph Village. The effect was that much stronger in VR, with the enormous city standing right in front of Erika. There was no way to rotate the game camera in order to size the whole area, hence Erika had no choice but to be overwhelmed by it.

This majestic sight was enough to reward her for reaching this far. It was the first big checkpoint on her journey to Trilz. The first city out of three. About a third of her adventure was now complete.

Erika and Vivi stopped in front of the gate. Two armed soldiers glanced at the suspicious newcomers, but didn't utter a word.

"This is the thing they call a 'city'!? Like, it's so huge!"

Vivi's eyes sparkled as she scanned the the tall walls from side to side. For a tiny creature like her, these walls must had looked gigantic.

"Hmph. I suppose the great Vivi may as well congratulate you for bringing her this far."

Vivi crossed her arms and lifted her chin in arrogance. Till the very end, she maintained a high and mighty attitude. However, based on the happy emotes over her head, she was genuinely thankful.

"Like, you're a poor idiot, right? So, the generous Vivi may as well throw you some cash."

【QUEST COMPLETED】【Vivi's Escort】

【Obtained 50 [Water] pieces.】

The description of the escort quest didn't detail any rewards for Erika, but Vivi still thanked Erika for her services. It was a small thing, but it nearly moved Erika to tears. Most small critters didn't appreciate her efforts, neither in RL nor in VR. It was the first time she was thanked and repaid like this.

"You can keep traveling with your mommy if you want to, Vivi~"

"Huh? Like, not sure what you mean, but it sounds creepy."

"Keep traveling with me, Vivi~"

Erika tried to grab the little pixie in order to not part ways with her. Escorted NPCs were normally programmed to leave the player once the quest was done, but Erika had hope. Vivi's AI was extremely advanced and she clearly evolved along their trip together. There was a chance to convince the pixie to stick around.

"Like, I prefer to explore this 'city' place by myself. W-we may run into each other sometime, s-so, like, stop making that stupid face. Hmph."

Vivi jerked after looking into Erika's teary puppy eyes. If Erika tried to pull this stunt in real life, she'd look like an ugly golem. But, in the avatar of a cute child, this was an adorable and pitiable look, which drew sympathy from others. It was a powerful weapon at Erika's disposal, but it wasn't enough.

Curses. Vivi is so stubborn. But she's so cute too~

In the end, all Erika's efforts fell through. Even her best manipulation tricks couldn't defeat the programmed law of escorted NPCs. They had to leave the player once the escort quest was complete. Even in VR. Even with super advanced AI. Erika couldn't do anything about it.

"Here. This is what's left from your Dragon Chocolate."

Erika pulled out the golden wrapping from the DiVe. There were only two more pieces of chocolate remaining. Throughout their adventure, Erika spoiled the bratty pixie countless times. She nearly spent away the whole reward.

"Hmph, it's not like I really want it. But, like, it's the reward we agreed on, so I must accept it."

Vivi acted pompous as she "unwillingly" accepted the sweet reward. Shorty after getting her hands on the chocolate, her tiny teeth were already digging into it.

"Mmmmm!"

Brain-melting sweetness shook Vivi's little body.

"Here's your share. Like, the generous Vivi feels you deserve this much for your efforts."

Vivi shoved the last piece of chocolate into Erika's palm.

"My, how benevolent of you, o generous Vivi~ But, are you sure? You worked very hard for this reward, haven't you?"

"Hmph, it's fine. Like, I think even an idiot like you deserves this much after working so hard."

"Haha... thanks."

Erika accepted the toxic piece of chocolate. It was inappropriate to reject Vivi's parting gift, regardless of Erika's trauma that involved this chocolate.

"Like, you not gonna eat it?"

"Um, sure. I'll eat it. Later..."

"Hmph. I see how it is. You don't appreciate the great Vivi's generosity at all, do you? What an ungrateful idiot!"

"No, no! I'm really happy to receive this chocolate! ...alright. I'll eat it."

Parting on a sour note was the last thing Erika wanted. She gulped as she glared at the black chocolate in her hand. She already knew. This small piece was going to ravage her insides with sweetness.

Rest in peace, Eri...

She threw the piece into her mouth. She tried to instantly swallow it, to avoid the taste. Alas, the virtual avatar didn't support such complex realism. The chocolate was stuck inside her mouth and slowly dissolved, unleashing its full taste on her senses.

"Umrfffff! Ummmm!!!"

Sweetness invaded her sweet and destroyed every sweet part of her body and it sweet that flowed in her sweet veins.

Erika muffled her screams of agony with all her strength. Her body was about to crumble and she was drawn toward insanity.

"N-no need to cry that much, hmph."

"Ummrfff! Ahhh!!"

"S-seriously. Like, I understand why you're sad to part with the great Vivi, but don't be a crybaby idiot."

"Ummfff!!"

"L-like, I'll be going now! The generous Vivi may offer you to serve her again someday, so look forward to it! Hmph!"

"UUUMMFFFF!!!"

Embarrassed by Erika's emotional display, Vivi darted into the city and vanished in the crowd. Erika weakly waved to the departing pixie... then collapsed.

With this, Erika's and Vivi's travels together came to an end.

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