16. If You Sleep in the Game You Sleep in Real Life!

    “Hey, uh, did you tame that boar? We’ll leave it alone if it’s yours.” Q said after getting over her surprise. 

    “Boar? What?” The person who was just recently sleeping on the boar was a young boy with pure white, fluffy hair and a small pair of horns that were poking out. He looked left, then right, and finally down. It took him a moment to understand the situation, and when he finally realized he was sitting on top of a boar he- “What the fuck!?” -fell off in shock.

    This yell of his alerted the boar of his presence, and while the boar seemed just as surprised as the boy it quickly got over it and lifted its leg to stomp on him. At that moment a hammer whizzed by its face, and although it wasn’t hit, it was still successful in making it retreat. Using this opportunity Q dashed forward and grabbed hold of the boy before the boar could reel back for a second attack, and she quickly dashed behind a tree for cover.

    “Jeez kid, how did you end up sleeping on a boar’s back?” Q peeked out from behind the tree as the boar was attacked by the rest of her party members, and she relaxed once she saw that they had it completely under control. Turning back she studied the boy more closely. He turned out to be a sheep type wildling- something that Q briefly considered choosing for her own race. His eyes were a light amber color with horizontal slit pupils, and his face looked soft and innocent. All of this was wrapped together in a big ball of white hair which covered down to his neck, to which Q felt a big impulse to squeeze. 

    “I dunno.” The boy gave a casual shrug. “I was just taking a nap in a meadow, and next thing I know I’m on top of a boar. Anyway, did you just call me a kid? That’s rude. I’m at least twice your age.” Despite his obvious displeasure, his voice was still soft and sleepy, almost lulling Q into a relaxed state.

    “If you’re referring to real life, then you may very well be. Come on, it seems they’re just about finished.” Q offered the boy a hand, which the boy studied for a moment before grabbing it. With Q in the lead, the two came out from behind the tree the exact moment the boar turned into light particles. 

    “Wow! Mystery boy appears. What were ya’ doin’ on top of that boar?” Melun bounced over and began to circle the boy curiously.

    “I don’t know, okay? I was just sleeping and woke up on the boar. Also, stop calling me boy. I got a proper name here.” The boy lifted up his hair and everyone was able to see a star shining on his neck.

    [LetMeSleep – Level 6]

    “That’s… a name.” Q scratched her cheek, unsure of how to comment on such a strange name.

    “You’re one to talk,” Kukis lightly knocked Q on her head and continued, “besides, this is still technically an MMO. We’ve seen way weirder names right?”

    “Yeah, meeting Mod for the first time was really… something.” For a moment Q’s eyes became distant, as if remembering a nostalgic, yet painful memory. She shook her head free of such thoughts, and gave LetMeSleep a look over. “Let’s see… your name is a bit long to say all the time, so let’s take out a few letters and… how about we call you Leslee?” 

    “Dang! I was gonna call him ‘Sleepy Sheepy’ but ya’ beat me to it! I’m usually the one who comes up with nicknames…” Melun muttered.

    “… Huh.” Leslee took a moment to realize that he had somehow been assimilated into the group, as the members began to ask him questions. Thinking that answering all of them was troublesome, he walked over to Q and tugged on her tail for attention.

    “What is it?” Q tilted her head.

    “I’m going to sleep.” Leslee said that simple sentence and then activated a skill. A round, fluffy-looking bubble surrounded his body and lifted him up slightly above the ground. Then a small string came out from the bubble and wrapped itself around Q’s tail before she had a moment to react. Seeing that the string was attached Leslee was satisfied and closed his eyes, then fell asleep in less than two seconds.

    “He… actually fell asleep.” Q didn’t know how to make heads or tails of the situation, but thankfully a window appeared in front of her explaining what just happened.

You are under the effect of LetMeSleep’s Myth, [Sweet Dreamer]
While attached to LetMeSleep, you gain the following effects:
Increased Health and Spirit regeneration.
20% Increase in all stats.
50% of LetMeSleep’s resistances.
A 5% to activate one of LetMeSleep’s attacks while attacking.
Half of the experience you earn is transferred to LetMeSleep.
Damage taken by LetMeSleep is shared with you.

LetMeSleep will follow you freely in this state, but taking too much damage or moving too far (for example teleporting a certain distance or squeezing through a gap) has a chance to break the line, and you will be rendered immobile for 5 seconds, with a chance of receiving the [Sleep] status effect.

    Did I just pick up a leech? Q idly thought as she poked the bubble, sending a slight ripple through it. No, I think this is just how this boy plays the game. Those stat buffs are nothing to scoff at, even with him taking half of my exp. Hmm… eh, whatever.

    “So, we’ve got a new party member guys. Say hello to Leslee the sleepy balloon. Remember to say it quietly though.” At first all of her party members were confused, but once Q explained the effects of Leslee’s myth they soon understood and everyone quickly accepted his presence… Everyone except Melun that is, who felt that her status as team mascot was being usurped by this upstart fluffy boy.

    “I know my myth sounds weird but it’s effect is quite nice. I didn’t think that there would be myths that sound nice but have weird effects like this one around.” Kukis said while poking at the bubble.

    “What is your full effect by the way?” Q asked, “mine ‘intensifies’ any light based attack. It’s basically a simple buff to most attacks.” 

    “It’s like… I put a mark on things that I own and I can just recall them to me at anytime by using a small amount of spirit. The spirit used increases the greater the distance, but for the most part I can easily grab things in a moment. It’s also helpful for organization. For some reason I can instantly tell which marked items are which, and where they are.”

    “Oh damn. If you could use that in real life your room wouldn’t b-”

    “Do you have a hobby of revealing everyone’s secrets!?” Just as Q was about to reveal some embarrassing facts, Kukis quickly swung her hammer to interrupt her. “Haaah… What about you all? Seeing as we’re working together as a party, I figure we should know what other special things we can do.” Kukis attempted to forcefully change the subject, and to her relief it worked.

    “I’ve been waitin’ for this!” Melun was the first to jump out. “Mine’s [Tiny Starlet], I can supercharge an attack once every day.”

    “I got [Tricky Devil], where I can swap the elements of two attacks I make. Seems real hard to do though…” Aeryn had a myth which had a lot of potential, but she wasn’t able to show its full effect just yet.

    “[Green Knight]!” Verne puffed out his chest. “My health can go into the negative values for a short amount of time, and when it’s over I go back to one HP!”

    “It makes you a good punching bag.” Neira scoffed, “I have [Flash and Flurry] which more or less triples my attack and movement speed. I’m trying to be a tank though…”

    “Ahh, I suppose we’re all sharing now hm?” Fortis felt like keeping his myth a secret, but seeing that Melun had already started a trend he had no choice but to reveal his own. “My myth is [Eye of Judgement]. I can see other players stats and myths. I apologize if my ‘suspicious looks’ have offended you.”

    “Ohh so it was a myth.” Q nodded, finally learning why Fortis would constantly scan everyone that passed by him. “Sounds great everyone! Let’s blast through these boars and find that dungeon you’ve been talking about.” All the members showed their agreement (Leslee twitched a little) and the group set off once more. 

    The group continued through the forest, hunting down the boars. This time they split up the Crios blades, with Fortis and Aeryn following Q (and Leslee), while Neira, Verne and Melun followed Kukis. Q and Kukis took a pseudo leadership role amongst their members, taking the lead and directing the members during battle. This proved to be far more effective than the earlier mishmash of poor decision making. 

    Q would take the lead, charging in with Leslee in tow, and neglected dodging, completely leaving defense to Fortis who requested some training in timing his defensive barrier spells. With only a single person to protect (he didn’t count Leslee) Fortis was able to focus more and got his barriers up at just the right time to protect Q. Meanwhile Aeryn had told Q of her skill cooldown times, and Q would control the pace of the battle so that she would always be able to back off whenever Aeryn could cast a new spell.

    Something Q found interesting was the effect of Leslee’s bubble. Although the stat increases were quite welcome, Q held herself back to allow Fortis and Aeryn to train some more. Instead she made a lot of small weak attacks in order to try activating one of Leslee’s attacks. During her battles she found that Leslee had mainly spells that cause status effects or some sort of physical tackle. Whenever that ability activated the bubble would glow a little, and depending on whether it was a spell or physical attack it would move accordingly.

    Kukis acted more as a support for the others to properly show their strengths. Her hammers would always come in at just the right time to interrupt an attack, allowing either Verne or Melun to get a good hit in. This time Neira was able to properly tank, using her mace or shield to bash in her enemies head. Kukis didn’t have to say much to the others since their basic skills were already decent; they simply needed more opportunities to work together to build a solid rapport. 

    In this manner they easily fought their way through the boars and finished the quest within an hour. The group decided to travel a bit further and ended up resting at the top of a hill that overlooked their next destination. In front of them was a dense mass of shrubbery which were all in the shape of triangles. Both the leaves on the shrubs, the branches they were attached to, and the shape of the shrubs themselves were in some sort of triangle shape, and if they took a few steps back and looked at the whole area it would also seem to be a vague triangle shape.

    “Our next destination is directly in the center of those shrubs. Apparently the locals call them the… Stabby Shrubs?” Fortis looked over to Melun for confirmation.

    “Yeah, somethin’ like that. A place full of leaves. A triangular secret. They poke real bad.” Melun attempted to summarize the information she got in a haiku, and despite the vagueness of her sentences, everyone still got the gist of it.

    “I can’t wait to get down there. My circle leaves require new companions!” Q was raring to go, but before she could set off she felt movement from her tail and turned around to see that the bubble around Leslee was dissipating.

    As the bubble became more and more transparent, it finally disappeared with a ‘pop’ sound and Leslee landed on his feet. He opened his bleary eyes and scanned the area for a moment before letting out a yawn and stretching out. “You’re an unexpectedly good pillow.”

    Q raised an eyebrow and crossed her arms. “That’s the first thing you have to say after acting like a leech?”

    “Sorry, I can’t help it.” For once, Leslee appeared to be apologetic. “It’s my ability after all. Also… I can finally sleep, so I’m absolutely doing it as often as I can.”

    “You have insomnia?”

    “Yup. It’s real bad back in reality. I spend every day feeling so exhausted, but every time I lay in bed and close my eyes, it’s like I get a shot of adrenaline and just can’t go to sleep. If I try to get up and do something that exhaustion comes back, and it’s just a cycle of that over and over again. Sleeping pills were fine at first, but my body slowly grew a resistance to them and now the dosage is as high as it can go… But here, when I go to sleep it works! I actually felt refreshed for once. I figure I can start living life normally from now on, and I get to play a fun little game while I’m at it.”

    “Wow.” Q had no other words to offer, but Leslee seemed to understand her feelings.

    “Yeah. Wow.”

    “Well, I’m not the leader, but since you’ve already come all this way, want to be in the party?” Q asked while looking at Fortis in the corner of her eye.

    ‘Well, I suppose one more member wouldn’t change much. I have a condition though, you’re in charge of him Q.” 

    “Okay… but I also have a condition!” Q turned to Leslee and asked, “Can I fluff your hair?”

    “…yeah sure.”

    “Yes!” With permission finally granted, Q practically dove into Leslee’s ball of hair. Although at first Leslee seemed a little embarrassed, he quickly got over it and soon began to enjoy Q’s impromptu grooming session. The party decided to rest for a while longer, then finally decided to head off to the Stabby Shrubs.

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