"Duncan..." You begin hesitantly. "Do you really think there will be a lot of people coming here?" You ask, your curiosity piqued. "And is that... bad? Will they be a problem? Or... or is this place safe, somehow? It doesn't seem like a city... but it's all of these buildings." You gesture around at the town, the people walking the streets. "It's hard to believe that it's all real."
You frown and he smiles "That was not what you meant to say was it?"
"No, it is quite annoying actually" You grumble, rubbing your forehead.
Duncan laughs, and sets off again, heading toward the tavern. "Let's start with the basics. As you can tell the roles in this world are enforced. We are limited in what we can say. We must remain in character at all times. But I'll tell you more about it as we go."
You nod your head and follow after him, the way clear for now. He leads you to a building that is half-stone, half-wood, and opens the door. Inside, the interior is dark but welcoming. There are several tables in the room with various items placed atop them: daggers, armor pieces, foodstuffs, weapons. A few patrons sit at the tables, drinking ale and talking amongst themselves. They look up curiously when the doors open, and a couple even rise from their seats. One in particular, a tall, golden-haired lioness, draws your attention. Her eyes meet yours, and she winces slightly. "Another lost soul who has found their way here?"
"Hello, my name is Mephiti," You reply to the woman, nodding your head politely. "I am a Skunk Huntress, and I've never been here before."
The Lioness nods, sitting back down and motioning for you to take a seat. "So, let's talk over some drinks then. How did you find yourself here?"
The drinks arrive. They are in bowls instead of glasses, the reason obvious when the lioness starts to lap from hers. You do likewise, and you can feel a warmth spreading through you. You can sense a similar feeling in the other girl, and you look to her with a smile. "I'm sorry; I didn't mean to stare. Are you...?"
"Lily. I am Lily, and I've been here for nearly a year." She says, taking another drink. "You're new to the world, aren't you?"
"Yes, I just arrived yesterday. My name is Mephy, and I... I don't know how I got here." You admit nervously.
"That is a common tale for the newcomers around here" Lily says, leaning forward and putting a paw on the table. "You were probably attacked by a monster, or someone else, and ended up with a curse. That happened to me too." She says, and you both glance at her, surprised. "I was exploring the ruins of an old castle, and I came across something strange. I don't remember much, but I do recall putting on some googles."
"Goggles? What's that?"
She shrugs. "They go on your head and protect your eyes"
"Oh. So you don't have any memories of what happened to you either?"
"Not exactly. I know that once I put them on I was cursed, and that I woke up in this town. The only thing that I can be sure of is that there I met Duncan, and he told me to come to this tavern. And that's all."
Duncan returns, carrying a bowl of soup. He looks at you, his face serious as ever. "So, you two have met each other? Good. Now, we need to get to the heart of the matter. You are going to be staying at the inn. It's run by the people of this town, so they will provide you all you need."
"What? We're not leaving?"
"Many have searched for a way to leave the world but no one has managed to find a way" Duncan explains. "This is our world. We live here, we die here. We are reborn here."
You look at him, confused. "But... what about death? Isn't there a soul after your body dies?"
Duncan shakes his head. "No. You wake up back in the inn, and it's like you never left."
You frown. "That doesn't make sense..."
He smiles. "It is very difficult for the people here to accept it, it does not matter if it is a monster or yourself, their is no escape. There may be many who try, but none succeed. Some say that there must be a way out, but no one knows what form it would take. Some believe that the answer lies in the Crystal Tower, and the ability to use its powers. But those who attempt to climb it always fall, and when they do, they end up here. They cannot go back."
Written by NovelAi on 19 July 2021
The end (for now)