"Ow, stop that! Let go of my ear already!"
As if he didn't get enough of this treatment from his sister in real life! Why in the world was Lolidragon always yelling at him and trying to maim him? He hadn't even done anything wrong. He had just been trying to offer his insights - very well thought out insights - and bam, she'd found her way to his ear, pinching his earlobes and dragging him towards Sunshine's carpet.
She snorted and finally, finally let go of his ear. She then turned away in a huff, arms crossed in front of her busty chest, but there wasn't any room for her to go anywhere since they were, well, on a carpet. A magically flying carpet, but still a carpet, and since it was a flying carpet, that meant they were in mid-air.
After rubbing his ear, straightening his clothes, and fixing his tied-up hair, he flicked his fan open and started fanning himself. How was it that Lolidragon was such a pro at making him look like an idiot? None of his charms had ever worked on her. He was going to have to read up on Chu Liu Xiang's achievements more. He was clearly doing something wrong.
"Where are we going first?" he asked, settling down beside Sunshine, putting the strange Arabic prince-like guy his sister had towed back from who-knows-where between him and Lolidragon. Just to play it safe. Sunshine was also the "pilot" of the carpet. That was another reason why being near Sunshine was a good idea. It made Yang Ming feel doubly safe.
Lolidragon was staring far ahead, her eyes all business now. If she always looked this serious, he would have thought her to be a refined lady with her killer looks, but she had to destroy her image with her violent character.
"The Western Continent. Prince has met Wacko before. Might be a good idea to start with someone we know."
She turned towards Sunshine.
"Steer us towards the Western continent, okay?"
Sunshine tilted his head to the right, his long hair almost touching the carpet. That made three of them with their hair tied-up. What a trio they were. Yang Ming continued fanning himself, though the wind was more useful than his fan this high in the air. He was fanning just for the heck of it, and his fan was more for appearances than anything else.
"How do we get there?" Sunshine asked. He was always full of questions, but this question wasn't one they needed. Yang Ming studied Lolidragon's expression. Unless she knew how to get to the Western continent from above, they weren't going to get anywhere since he definitely didn't know the way.
Lolidragon frowned at Sunshine's question, her eyebrows bunching together. She was doing that more and more lately. "You know what? Change of plans. Flying west would probably get us there, but let's not get lost and waste our time. Take us to the Eastern continent. You know how to get there, right? We'll have to get a map and a compass after that..."
Sunshine nodded. Off they went in the direction of the sun.
Yang Ming shielded his eyes with his fan. Lolidragon turned to face the front once again, her long hair trailing behind her in the wind like wisps of fire, just as fiery as her personality.
A trip with Lolidragon, huh? He wondered how he was going to survive, especially since he wasn't going to be able to contact anyone else once they left Central.
This was going to be one heck of a trip.
After being cooped up on the carpet for what felt like forever, Yang Ming was glad to finally be on land. He never knew that riding on a flying carpet could be so turbulent. The up and down motions made him feel more than a little queasy, so much that even fanning himself didn't help. He normally didn't even get carsick. To think he'd get motion sickness from riding a magical carpet...
Lolidragon merely looked back at him and snorted, clearly unimpressed when he stumbled towards a tree. Sunshine blinked those large, emerald eyes of his, not at all affected by the bumpy ride either. Which made sense, since it'd be stupid if the owner of the magical carpet couldn't ride it without feeling sick.
Ugh, he didn't feel so good.
"Never buy a magical carpet," muttered Yang Ming to himself. He brushed his bangs back, hoping he didn't look as terrible as he felt.
The Eastern continent's smiling overlord, Winter Triumph, evidently thought differently about magical carpets, though Yang Ming thought one ride on the super magical carpet would cure him of his wild notions. The squinty-eyed overlord also had one of the creepiest smiles ever. It looked like it was plastered on his face, and it even grew wider than it already was when he spotted something that caught his interest. That something happened to be Sunshine's carpet. He started rubbing his hands together.
"What a magnificent carpet! I've never seen the like!" Mr. Squinty-eyed ran his hand across the edge. "Oh yes, this is made of the finest material our continent has to offer. Does this fly?" he asked eagerly, directing his question towards the three of them.
Sunshine smiled, happy to answer a question for once. "Yes, it flies." Beside him, his carpet shuddered when the overlord ran his hand across the edge once again. It almost looked like the carpet wanted to curl up to protect itself.
Somehow, that question led to Sunshine demonstrating how the carpet worked.
"I am in love!" Winter Triumph exclaimed. "Will you sell your carpet to me? Or trade it? How does this suit of armor look? It is highly customizable! Completely worth the trade! I would love to examine this to see if we could possibly manufacture something just as brilliant. We would be able to make such a huge profit..."
Sunshine's carpet had long since started hiding behind Sunshine, quivering with each of the overlord's words.
"Sell? Trade?" asked Sunshine curiously.
Wait, he wasn't seriously going to sell their only source of transportation, was he? Yang Ming swiveled to stare at Sunshine and started shaking his head at him, hoping he would get the picture. Sunshine tilted his head at him. Great. He was going to have to talk this squinty overlord guy out of the notion... but before he even needed to do that, Lolidragon took matters into her hands and pushed Sunshine aside.
She had a smile that was just as creepy as Winter Triumph's plastered on her face, one that said, "What do you think you're doing, huh!?"
"We're not selling. We want to know if you've met any assassins," she stated bluntly.
Finally! Yang Ming stared in admiration as Lolidragon bullied the overlord into telling them information they needed to know. When force didn't work, Lolidragon sighed and pulled out some of her own treasure, resorting to bribery.
Even though he didn't like to admit it, Lolidragon got things done when they needed to be done. She was really impressive.
"Will this do?" she asked.
Winter Triumph's entire face lit up.
Back on the carpet, Yang Ming tried lying down instead, hoping this would make him feel less queasy. When Sunshine saw him switch positions, he copied Yang Ming's pose.
"... Can you see where we're going like that?" asked Yang Ming.
Sunshine peered ahead and then propped himself up on one arm. "Now I can."
"Don't make us fall..." warned Yang Ming, hoping the ride wasn't going to become bumpier because of Sunshine's new pose that was not at all suited for steering a flying carpet.
Though he and Sunshine had gotten comfortable, Lolidragon was still sitting ramrod straight, looking far off into the horizon. They were too far from land to see anything but empty sky and sea all around. He would have thought she'd be the first one to succumb to the temptation of lying down on the soft carpet. They didn't all need to be alert. Sunshine was more than enough, but there she was, frown marring her face.
Sunshine sighed wistfully, a small smile tugging at his lips. "Beautiful, right?"
Yang Ming's thoughts came to a halt. "Huh? Wait! I wasn't staring at Lolidragon!" he protested immediately.
"Were you staring at her?" Sunshine asked in confusion.
Oh, so Sunshine hadn't caught him staring at her, not that he actually had been staring at her or anything. He had just happened to be looking in that direction.
"What were you saying?" asked Yang Ming, hoping Lolidragon hadn't heard what he had just blurted out to Sunshine. That would be embarrassing. Thankfully, she seemed to be preoccupied, and maybe he hadn't been as loud as he thought he'd been. He frowned. He couldn't tell what expression she wore, but her shoulders were tense. There was something eating at her.
Sunshine turned back to the scenery in front of them. The endless sky and waves looked like a scene out of a painting. He waved his hand in front of him.
"This. This is beautiful. I wish I could share this with Fairsky."
Yang Ming supposed it was a breathtaking sight, certainly a romantic one. With the sun setting to the west, they were slowly bathed in red and orange, and the waves below them rippled with red tints. Lolidragon sat in the middle of it all, like she had every right to rule the skies and seas.
When Yang Ming fell asleep, Lolidragon glanced back at him before turning her attention back to the never-ending sea in front of them. Sunshine asked her if she'd like to take a nap too, but she declined. There was too much on her mind to relax.
At the Southern continent, they met with a man that made Yang Ming empty the contents of his stomach, and this time he couldn't even blame Sunshine's magical carpet.
Deathless, the undying overlord of the Southern continent, had the most disturbing eyes Yang Ming had ever seen before. They sparkled, like eyes straight out of a girls manhua series, which would have been fine, but he was also a very buff guy, and that just didn't add up at all.
While Yang Ming tried to rid himself of his sudden nausea, Deathless had taken the opportunity to grab Lolidragon's hand.
"You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen! Please go out with me!" he exclaimed, his large and round eyes sparkling.
What in the world did he think he was doing? Confessing to Lolidragon? That violent woman? Not only was Deathless the undying overlord, Yang Ming thought he also needed to add "crazy" to his title, because only someone crazy would ever confess to Lolidragon.
For some reason, Yang Ming felt like kicking the overlord. He couldn't explain his sudden irritation, but there it was, coursing through him.
"I have to decline..." said Lolidragon with her free hand over her mouth. She looked like her breakfast was itching to escape too. Staring at the undying overlord's eyes for more than a few seconds had that effect.
"Oh my god! Why? Why have I been rejected for the 3,957th time? I swore that I would never die so that I could become the strongest player of Second Life. Now I'm the strongest! But why don't I have a girlfriend yet?" he wailed, big, fat tears leaking out of his huge eyes.
With his fan, Yang Ming whacked Deathless's hand in annoyance. He'd held onto Lolidragon's hand much too long.
"Hands off," he muttered, not at all liking Deathless and his interest in Lolidragon. The overlord made Yang Ming feel irritated beyond belief. He flicked his fan open and stared haughtily at the pitiful, girlfriendless overlord. "This lady here is my woman."
Lolidragon stared at him, mouth agape. She furiously started private messaging him.
Since when have I become your woman, huh?
Don't you want him to stop confessing?
Of course, but ugh, I'm not your woman, and he's not going to stop just because you said that!
Deathless wailed harder. "Why can he have such a beauty when I have none? This is so unfair!" He turned to Lolidragon. "Oh goddess! You should break up with him and go out with me! I'm the strongest player in Second Life, and I'm even an overlord! What does he have that I can't offer you?" He stared pleadingly at Lolidragon with his disturbing eyes. Yang Ming thought they were even more disturbing than Winter Triumph's creepy smile.
Lolidragon rolled her eyes and gave Yang Ming an exasperated look. "See?" she muttered.
And what's with your sudden Chu Liu Xiang imitation? Stop that! It gives me the creeps!
Yang Ming laughed so much that he even smacked his hand on his bedside table in real life. His mind was full of Lolidragon's lofty, unimpressed expression.
His eyes snapped open. He took his headset off and stared at the ceiling above him.
He had been jealous. All that irritation over Deathless was because of jealousy.
He was crazy, even crazier than Deathless because he actually knew Lolidragon past her good looks. Too much time spent on Sunshine's magical carpet had made him go crazy.
"I'm in love with Lolidragon," he said to the empty room.
"I'M IN LOVE WITH LOLIDRAGON!!!"
He muffled his face with his pillow. He was grinning so much, he was sure his facial muscles were going to be sore the next day. He could probably even give Winter Triumph a run for his money for the widest smile ever.
Knowing that fact that he liked Lolidragon that way changed everything. Now Yang Ming knew why his eyes always strayed towards her, why he always tried to provoke her, why she always made him feel so damn much... It was crazy. How could he fall in love with someone without even knowing who she was in real life?
But he loved the persona she presented online. She was completely without morals and a huge pervert - he could never forget the bathhouse incidence - but at the same time, she was one of the most confident people he knew, she never gave up, and she knew how to think outside of the box. He didn't think all of that was completely fabricated, since even though he had tried to appear suave and collected as Wu Qing, he was more often the complete opposite, especially around Lolidragon. She had that effect on him, and Yang Ming would like to believe that he made Lolidragon react without thinking too.
From the moment he'd first seen her next to his sister in that restaurant, she had already started driving him mad. True, he'd been more annoyed than anything, but she sure made him feel strongly.
He sighed and stared off into the never-ending sky. Being stuck on a carpet with Lolidragon - never mind the fact that Sunshine was also there - was making Yang Ming think very strange thoughts. Since when had he become such a hopeless romantic?
"Is something wrong?" asked Sunshine from up front. He'd taken Lolidragon's position. For once, she was napping.
Yang Ming studied Sunshine's profile. He was a strange one. He kind of gave off an overly innocent vibe to Yang Ming, but he'd have to do since there was no one around that he could contact, and he was bursting to tell someone. Maybe Sunshine wasn't even such a bad choice since he was already in a relationship. He might even understand and be able to give Yang Ming some advice.
Yang Ming glanced furtively at Lolidragon. Good. She was still asleep. He scooted up towards Sunshine.
"I'm in love with Lolidragon," he whispered to Sunshine with his hands cupped to prevent his voice from traveling to Lolidragon's ears.
A wide smile broke out over Sunshine's face. "Really? That's wonderful news! Being in love is a great feeling. I'm not entirely sure what it all means, but I know it makes me feel very happy. I hope it makes you feel happy too."
Sunshine touched the spot over his heart and beamed at Yang Ming.
Yang Ming grinned. Being in love was making him delirious. He could hear a band playing congratulatory music in his mind, complete with the sweet whistling of a flute and the high, reverberating notes of a guzheng.
Sunshine had one finger on the side of his mouth in thoughtfulness.
"Does Lolidragon like you back?" he asked.
Yang Ming crashed back to reality. That was the question now, wasn't it?
Wacko, the overlord of the Western continent, was just as strange as his name implied. He took one look at them and, instead of marveling at Sunshine's magical carpet like what Winter Triumph had done, he began waxing poetry about each of them.
"Your eyes are the most beautiful emerald I have ever seen!" exclaimed Wacko as he stared at Sunshine. "They complement your face very well, and I dare say you have good taste in earrings."
"Thank you," said Sunshine politely with a smile. "Your eyes are very pretty too...?"
Yang Ming doubted that.
Wacko, the carefree overlord, then turned towards Yang Ming. "You look like a character straight out of a wuxia novel!"
Yang Ming flicked his wrist to open his fan. "Oh, you can tell?" he asked.
"Of course, of course! And that fan of yours... let me guess, Chu Liu Xiang?"
Maybe Wacko wasn't too bad if he was versed in wuxia.
"And you, look at you," said Wacko in awe, staring at Lolidragon. "How is it that you have your hair done in such a perfect way that's messy but not messy? You have to share your secrets with my wife, DanDan. She'd be delighted to learn how."
Despite the fact that Wacko was not at all hitting on Lolidragon, Yang Ming stepped between them. He didn’t like how he was staring at her.
"Feng Wu Qing, what are you doing?" asked Lolidragon. "Move out of the way."
Wacko grinned. "Looks like someone's being protective!"
Lolidragon laughed and tossed her hair over her back. "That can't be..."
Her voice trailed off when he didn't say anything to contradict Wacko. She stared at him in alarm before turning away, her face turning pink.
Yang Ming flicked his fan closed.
Maybe, just maybe, he had a chance.
The Eastern, Southern, and Western overlords had all encountered assassination attempts. It was alarming because someone was actively going out trying to eliminate them. That meant his sister was in a very precarious position as the overlord of the most influential continent out of them all. Were these assassins the same people, or were they different people working for the same cause? If they were different people, how could there possibly be so many powerful players they didn't know about? He and Lolidragon had drafted up a list of all the top ranked players, and very few matched the description of the assassins. It didn't make sense that the assassins were all different people, but if the assassins that were going after each of the overlords were the same assassins... how in the world were they traveling from one continent to the next in such a short time?
Yang Ming had a feeling they'd find their answer in the Northern continent. Either the overlord of the Northern continent was the one behind all of this, or she too was a victim. If that was the case, then they were facing an unknown enemy.
He didn't know why all this concerned Lolidragon so much, but he lent her an ear whenever she needed it.
When they exited the restaurant, one of the few places that was even open, Lolidragon murmured to herself, "They're missing..."
Yang Ming, Lolidragon, and Sunshine had little trouble locating the previous three overlords, but Solitary Blossom was proving to be impossible to find. She and her five husbands - how in the world did that even work - hadn't been seen by anyone for days. Lolidragon left word at the restaurant for Solitary Blossom to contact them at Central, but Yang Ming thought it highly unlikely that it was going to happen.
"She doesn't seem like she's behind this," continued Lolidragon. "From what I've heard about her, she's not ambitious. She cares more about her looks than anything. And... she's not even around, so what benefit is there to her if she goes after the others? Her own continent is falling into disarray."
They looked around. The streets were completely deserted, like an abandoned town. It made Yang Ming yearn for Infinite City. It was so much more alive, always bustling with activity and players everywhere.
That was what was eerie about this place. It was too quiet, and there were too few players about. In fact, Yang Ming was even suspicious that there were more NPCs than actual players in the town. The shop owners were standing by their doors, peering out in hopes of possible customers, but there weren't any about.
Something strange was going on here.
Lolidragon had that frown on her face again, that frown that made Yang Ming worry because if even Lolidragon was concerned, then the situation must be alarming.
"I need to check on something," she said. "See you later."
She logged off.
When she logged on again, Yang Ming was sitting on a rock by a stream. Sunshine was actually right by the stream and had even dipped his feet in the water.
Staying in the town had been too depressing. More than one NPC storeowner had tried to rope him into buying something.
"We need to go back to all the other continents to tell the overlords to head towards Central," Lolidragon said right away when she saw them. "We're having a meeting."
"Okay," said Yang Ming, but he was more mesmerized by the way the spotted sunlight was leaving an intricate pattern on her hair. He grabbed the fan he'd placed next to him and leapt off the rock.
When he stood up and found that he was face-to-face with Lolidragon - he'd miscalculated his jump by a whole lot - he thought, why the heck not? Soon, their trip was going to be over. He wasn't going to miss Sunshine's flying carpet too much - he'd been stuck on it for far too long - but he was going to miss his solitary time with Lolidragon. Away from Central, he'd only had Lolidragon - and Sunshine, his mind added - to keep him company, but he found he didn't dislike the time they'd spent together. In fact, he kind of wished Lolidragon would continue coming to him even after the trip ended.
He breathed in deeply and smiled his most handsome smile. His sister had once told him that she only knew a handful of handsome people, and he was one of them. It was no wonder then, that as his twin, she made a very handsome male too.
"Lolidragon, I like you. Please go out with me?"
She stared at him as if he were crazy - he thought he probably was - before blushing a fierce red. That looked to be a good sign, but then her foot came flying at his stomach.
"You're out of your mind!" she exclaimed. "We're in the middle of an investigation!"
She stalked away. Normally, her footsteps were completely silent, but she sounded like she was purposely making as much noise as she could. Leaves crinkled and crackled under her heavy steps.
Staring up at the sky above, Yang Ming idly wondered if that meant he had a chance if they weren't in the middle of an investigation. She'd even blushed. She hadn't said no.
He had a chance.
He laughed and punched the air.
"I'm not giving up!" he yelled, loud enough to disturb some low level critters from the tree.
While he watched the critters take flight, Sunshine made his way over. He peered down at Yang Ming curiously, his long ponytail almost tickling Yang Ming in the face, but Yang Ming didn't care.
"What are you doing?" Sunshine asked.
"Planning," Yang Ming said with a grin. "I'm also feeling ridiculously happy."
Sunshine tilted his head before copying Yang Ming's pose. He looked at the sky happily.
"Why are you happy?" he asked.
"I confessed to Lolidragon," Yang Ming declared proudly, but that wasn't enough for him.
"I CONFESSED TO LOLIDRAGON!" he shouted for the entire world to hear.
Out of sight of the two males who were being way too happy for Lolidragon's tastes, Lolidragon snapped a branch in half with her foot. Even the loud snap didn't distract the two from their declarations of happiness and joy.
Lolidragon's face was still completely red.
"I can't believe he's telling Sunshine! The nerve of him!"