by Storyteller Ann

Chapter Zero: The Return of a Long-Time-No-See Friend

What awaits for you if you have the patience for reading this fanfiction.

Staring into Gui’s eyes, she said.

_Prince is a girl.


_You heard me.

_How could you know that?

_Because Wicked isn’t gay. – She said simply.


How it started depends upon the person telling the tale, but you can simplify it by saying it started with a phone call.

Gui picked the phone, surprised someone would be calling him so late at night. Usually at this hour he’d be done with correcting his student’s essays and logging into Second Life.

_Hi, Gui! It’s Ling. I hope I didn’t call too late? Guess what? I’m coming back!

A wide smile spread across Gui’s face.

_Really? That’s great! When?

And so they began to chat.

Later, when Gui finally logged into Second Life, he was welcomed by a smiling Yulian. The bard paled, feeling that a gruesome punishment awaited him for his delay.

_Gui, you know the building department is busy with Infinite City’s constant expansion, and Fairsky can’t manage the whole department alone. When you’re absent the poor girl has to work in double, and barely has any free time to spend with Sunshine. Don’t you think it’s too cruel to keep the girl from being with the person she loves, only because you weren’t here to fulfill your duties?

Gui swallowed, trying to think in some excuse before the mage could make him feel worse. When Yulian made a pause in her accusations, he blurted out:

_My best friend I haven’t seen in years just called to tell me she’s coming back from abroad. I guess we’ve got lost in the conversation. I’m sorry, I’m going to the office help Fairsky right away. – and thus he ran before Yulian could say any more reprimand.

In the way, he crossed Prince. Gui really considered making a halt to throw himself at the elf’s feet, but he was too much afraid of Yulian. So he contented himself in shouting cheerfully “Your Highness!” without stop running.

_Ling, why don’t you join Infinite City? You could help a lot, and I’m sure you’d like the city. – Gui suddenly remembered asking. This time Ling had called earlier, so they could talk freely, without him having to incur in Yulian’s wrath.

_What? Ah, you’re talking about Second Life. Gui, I don’t play Second Life.

Ming Gui Wen stared blankly at the phone. What did she mean? Everyone played Second Life.

_I didn’t have time. – she explained – Also, there were matters of loyalty. I was working for the other game company, you know, The World. But Second Life keeps stealing our players, and the branch in which I used to work just got closed. That’s why I’m coming back: I was kicked out of the country when I lost my job.

_Oh. I’m sorry for your job.

_Don’t be. By the way, is Second Life really this good? I mean, if even you, who never liked MMO RPG, is playing it…

Gui then started a speech about all the amazing things in Second Life, and Ling promised she would start playing that very night, but he had to promise to help her level as soon as she left the newbie’s village.

Ling created her character in Second Life to look like her in real life. She considered being an elf, but decided pointed ears were good for other people, not for her. She also took her time in the newbie village. Which was worthy.

_…a wanderer? – Gui asked skeptically.

_Yes! It’s a secret quest class, good for finding quests and solving puzzles. The skills rise slowly, but they’re well distributed, so I can distance or close, magical or physical fight as I please.

_And when will you join Infinite City?

_This night.

For Prince, it was really weird not having Gui throwing himself against him. In fact, Gui was presenting himself in a fashion Prince had never seen before. It was not the scandalous fool from every night in Second Life, nor the composed and cool genius teacher from everyday at the university. He was just being… normal.

With a huge smile, the bard conduced a girl dressed in a yellow cloak.

_… and this is the Main Hall, where we hold all the important banquets and formalities, and down that corridor is my and Fairsky’s office. We take care of the building department, so actually this whole place is my design. Well, there’s Fairsky hand in it, too, but is mostly my design.

_Wow, Gui, I always knew you could do anything you decided to put some effort into, but I never thought… Gui, that’s great.

_If you liked the castle, you need to see the fountain…

_Show me! I want to see it!

He then hurried back to the streets of Infinite City, dragging Ling along. Their happy tour was forced to come to an end as Yulian found them.

_Gui, I am sure I can show your friend around, so that you can go and help poor Fairsky.

With a squeak, he shouted Ling a goodbye and hurried to his office.

Ling looked to Yulian, slightly frightened by that person’s smile. But the older woman’s smile turned into a warmer one as long as Gui was out of sight.

_You must be Ling, right? Gui’s been talking about you for days now.

Ling suddenly looked very pleased.

_He has?

_ Yup. You two must be very good friends. How did you get to know each other?

Ling was about nine, but was already in sixth grade, which means two years advanced. She felt small and lonely among the older kids in her class. And kids her age wouldn’t befriend her because she was in an advanced year. Then, one day, a new boy arrived at school. He looked about eleven, so she tough he was going to be her new classmate. That was, until the moment he passed by the sixth grade door without even peeking inside and walked into the eighth grade lunchtime, Ling saw him sitting alone, and realized he was just like her. He was a kid who didn’t have many friends because he was too intelligent for his own good.

The boy was, of course, Gui. They got along very well, and Ling’s only shock was to discover that he just wasn’t even more advanced at school because his parents thought he needed the company of kids his age. He wasn’t just very smart, he was a genius.

After showing Ling around, Yulian excused herself, for she had some urgent matters to attend in the financial department. Ling was not concerned. She now needed to train, since level forty six wasn’t very impressive before Odd Squad’s average of seventy.

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