"Log out!" Mahn Li selected the command from the interface. Right now, his top priorities were reorienting himself and collecting his thoughts.
The virtual world melted away and the sensation of the real world returned. A headache still lingered. He wasn't sure if it was the same one a few days ago or a new one.
Groggily, he removed the VR headset and sat up. He glanced at the clock. 3 p.m. November 25th.
The bandaged cut on his right knee still stung, but not as much as he remembered.
"So it really has been two days!" He said out loud.
He scanned the tiny room. It was not much different than he remembered. On the desk at a corner, there seemed to be a few new items
He made his way to the desk and sat down on the chair next to it. One of the items was the results of a medical checkup. Apparently yesterday he had gone to a public hospital for an examination which didn't reveal anything unusual. A more extensive examination was out of the question, as it was not covered by insurance and he was broke.
"One more item in the shopping list," muttering, he looked at the rest. A prescription, some cheap over-the-counter medications.
"What happened to me?" He leaned back into the chair, closed his eyes and rubbed his head.
That was the first time he'd ever experienced anything like this. Two days' worth of memories just being completely wiped away.
He dismissed the possibility of the rig being faulty and messing with his brain. In his past life, he used it for at least a year before splurging on a significant upgrade and never had any problem with it. At least not of this magnitude.
After thinking, he concluded this had something to do with the fact he had somehow time-traveled into the past. Which was ridiculous the moment he said it out loud.
'I'd better get my head checked out again,' he muttered, 'as soon as I make some real money.'
He checked his room again for clues for what he did in the last two days.
There were about a dozen phone calls in his call log. About half of them were inquiries to nearby hospitals. Some were calls to his friends in college. There were a few calls from unlisted numbers, which he ignored. Those were probably from telemarketers.
His shopping list was empty. The fridge had enough food for roughly two more days. There was some money in his bank account, enough for another two weeks.
After thinking for a while, he concluded there was nothing left to do but going back into the game.
'Right, I should make some notes first!' He opened his computer and made a new file, then speech-noted down what he did for the day. From now on he would keep a sort of diary, just in case the memory loss happened again.
'Hopefully, I won't need this!' He sighed as he saved the file.
The menu room greeted Mahn Li as he logged back in.
He called up the activity log and began finding the point where he remembered.
"Another ambush. Ooh, I killed two of you guys. But you got me last. Yeah, yeah, good for you, I guess…"
"A deal with Farquaad? Nope, doesn't ring a bell…"
"A swarm of Wyrmlings attacked the town? Fuck me! I don't remember any of this! "
"Another duel. Wow, these kids love duels, don't they?…"
"'You won't get away with this!' Blah, blah blah… Oh, here it is!"
〔 Nine-fingered Nina: After a day, I'll be done brewing this BreathTaker Ale... 〕
That line was dated four in-game days ago.
After leaving Nina's shop, he logged out to run some errands. That was when he remembered having a headache.
When he logged in again, he was contacted by Morana. She offered to pay him for the items, which he declined.
"I'll probably take that offer now," chuckling humorlessly, he kept reading.
He talked them into fighting another duel. This time it was a 1v2 with the Rogue and the Ranger, which he won. The 'Cloak of Concealment' and the 'Amulet of Trueshot' were his rewards.
"Ouch. That must have pissed them off."
Mahn Li skimmed past the next day when he farmed, quested and attended the Wyrmling attack event.
"Did I get anything out of that, though?"
He received a title and a few cosmetic rewards for having completed the event. The real treasure was a bunch of material harvested from the Wyrmlings' corpses.
He didn't run into Morana's group at all for about thirty-six hours. Now that he thought of it, however, they might have been using alternate accounts to spy on him.
There was a part when Farquaad confronted him in the town. The little guy wanted in on Nina's recipe. Manco, of course, rejected his offer on principle.
Digging around a little, he found out the reason for Farquaad's insistence on acquiring the recipe. After sitting through long-winded conversations about the guy's backstory and motivations, Manco was able to reach a somewhat amicable solution. He would cooperate with Nina, become her partner and supplier, and leave the brewing for her. Then the deal was sweetened by the recipe for a unique recreational drug Manco found back in the Farm.
Of course, after Nina inevitably left Broken Hill to carve out her own future, it was uncertain how the partnership would end. But for now, it was resolved.
The following day was marked by an ambush by Morana's group.
"Where did this happen?" Mahn Li read the log, trying to recall any memory, but nothing came back.
They opened the ambush by Blinding him, then hitting him with a bunch of status effects.
"Wait a minute…" Something caught his eyes, and he read the log more carefully.
"One… two… three… four?"
In that ambush, Morana was casting at least four Tier-2 spells!
At level 25, Manco himself had access to three spells of this tier. He wasn't sure of her level, but it should be lower than 25, which would limit her number of Tier-2 slots to 2 or less.
"Might have something to do with her equipment…," muttering, he tried to open the replay for that particular day but didn't find anything. As his storage space was limited, Mahn Li typically didn't turn on the recording function unless it was for important fights.
The activity log only recorded the spells aimed at him, which were either attack spells or status-effect-inducing spells. Buffs on allies or self weren't recorded so he couldn't tell how many Tier-2 spells she was using in total.
Making a note to keep an eye out for that anomaly, he kept reading.
The group was talking in an open channel, so part of their conversation was converted to text. Most of them were taunts directed at him and communications made between team members.
He caught the mention of the swamp several times, so this probably took place at the North or the West of Broken Hill.
He was able to kill their cleric, who dropped the ring, then escape relatively unscathed.
"That was pretty fun. Shame I couldn't remember any of it!"
After that point, he began using the '(Birthday) Suit of Disguise' to change himself into one of the NPCs and mask his appearance. It could even fool the Inspect functionality so he could walk around town with relative impunity. He only had to avoid entering [Vigiled] areas, which was trivial thanks to [Arcane Vision], or showing himself next to the real NPC, since two completely identical NPCs with the exact same name were immediately suspicious.
Thanks to the disguise, he was able to finish his quests in relative peace. Until Nina's escort mission. He came to her shop, where she told him the ale was ready. Half an hour later, they meet outside the east gate, and they travel east together on her wagon. An hour later, they were ambushed by Morana's group.
"Crap! Of course they would get suspicious!"
He forgot that Nina had been locking herself up in her shop for a long time. If any player was paying attention, they would immediately notice the deviation from her pattern and suspect a quest was involved. Morana's group could simply monitor her movement and get to him.
'Right. Now I'm all caught up!'
Mahn Li looked at the log for the fight once more.
In total, the fight lasted about 25 minutes.
Morana's group piled on Manco half a dozen status effects, including Silence and Blind, but he was still able to fight back. As Nina was a decent spellcaster, she probably helped out quite a bit. Then it looked like he ran away or hid, for almost nothing happened during the next 15 minutes. Then the action picked up again in the last 5 minutes and the fight ended with three deaths. Manco was able to take out the Rogue and the Ranger, then grabbed the 'Amulet of Trueshot' before dying.
As the entire encounter was only summarized by dialogue he could hear, attacks and spells aimed at him, Mahn Li didn't get a complete picture of everything that happened during the fight. Frustrated, he checked the system again.
'Oh. I've got the replay for this part! Good job, past me!'
Evidently, after the first ambush, he had grown more wary of the group's behavior, and started recording his trips out of town.
'Now let's see how I died.'
Sitting down on the virtual floor, Mahn Li opened the replay function and began reviewing the ambush.
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