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IRL - In Real Life

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The monster was on its last legs – the giant sand spirit was already crumbling at the edges as it reared back for yet another wave of attacks. There were only three people left alive in the party, the other two sitting in limbo as they waited out the final act of the fight. A female avatar rushed forwards, swinging her shield up in front of her to blunt the rush of sand that flew at her, drawing aggression away from the other two players as they flanked and attacked. The attack let up long enough for all three to push in at once and deliver a killing blow – landing one of the players a bonus.

"That sucked." Huffed a female voice. "I had to switch my spec halfway through the fight."

"Oh, is that why you were a shit healer?" sneered one of the dead party members as the system displayed the victory cutscene.

"This is why girls shouldn't play video games." Chimed another.

"I don't want to hear shit from the asshat who wanted me to pocket heal them while they tried to one-v-one a boss monster." Snapped the first voice. "The tank was at half health and you -"

"Go back to the kitchen." Interjected another voice.

"E-excuse me?" the girl sputtered. "The fuck did you just say to me?"

"Pretty sure I didn't stutter." The voice responded.

"- Sera, just mute them or something until it lets us out of the que." Sighed another male voice. "I'm not in the mood to listen to you argue with strangers again."

"Shut up Tannis." Sera grunted, even as the loud clacking of keys filled the voice chat. "Re-ported, biyach."

"I really don't know why you let them rile you up like that." Tannis sighed. "It's never worth it."

"Like you're any better," she scoffed. "You behave like the king of fucking salt half the time, so you have no room to talk."

The alert went up on the screen displaying that the instance was ending, offering another que, and the female avatar – a heavily geared cleric with bright pink hair – declined it. The sound of a teleporter went off, and the environment dissolved from a dessert into a bustling city street. Two of the members from the party materialized side by side in the midst of the crowd. One was the harassed cleric, the other was a fighter dressed in black with a large two-handed broadsword.

"Remind me why I let you drag me into randomized dungeon ques?" Tannis grumbled, scrolling through the loot acquired from the previous battle. "All that ever happens is that you end up in fights with people."

"Can it." Growled Sera. "Did you get anything good from that final drop?"

"A lesser magic sword and a wind scythe." He said. "Nothing I can use – I'll probably just put it up for auction."

"Fair." His companion allowed absently as she adjusted settings in the menu in front of her – her armor suddenly changing from plate to light mail, and her shield and warhammer being replaced with a stylized quarterstaff. As the new weapon settled into her hand, she turned to grin at her friend. "Hey, I know we're cutting out after this, but would you be available to head up to the northern region tomorrow after school? They added a new questline in the last patch that's supposed to set things up for the storyline in the new expansion next month."

"Can't" he said, his mic sound fluttering for a moment as he made a sound like he was stretching. "Moving tomorrow."

"Oh shit, right I remember you telling me about that." Sera said, her voice indicating a frown. "I still think that's fucked – you having to move in the middle of a semester."

"Not like my opinion would matter much to his majesty." Grunted her friend.

"Dude, your family sucks."

"Tell me something I don't already know." He snorted. "I'll be out for a few days. I'll send you an IM when I get my computer set up."

"Cool." She affirmed. "I'll see if I'll be able to pencil you in when that happens."

"Goodnight Seraphina." He said, seconds before his avatar vanished.

On the other side of a computer screen, a girl with petal pink hair and vibrant eyes of emerald green was chuckling, a smirk on her face even as she logged out of the system and shut down the computer. Taking off her headset she stood from her desk chair with a stretch and a yawn before pulling the lamp chain and settling herself into the bed a few feet behind her.