TRIBUNA

What if you found yourself inside a game? Lewis and thousands of others found themselves inside the online MMORPG: Swordsmaster. The thing is, there is no reviving, no multiple lives; if you die in-game, you die in real life. Lewis soon learns that the only way to be free is to beat the game, and that can't be done alone. Can you really trust someone you hardly know?

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2. TRIBUNA

“Sorry, what was that?” She spat. Her hands were on her hips and her eyes… woah… those eyes made him feel uncomfortable.

“I-I don’t know. I can’t remember anything.” He backed up until he felt his back connect with the lamppost.

“Urgh, not another one.” She sighed to herself, “Clap twice.”

The boy did as he was told. After he had finished clapping, a menu popped up in front of him. He clicked on the ‘My Profile’ option.

“Lewis, aged eighteen.” He read aloud.

“Well, Lewis-aged-eighteen, what the hell were you doing on a route without any armour? You wanna die?” She straightened her back and crossed her arms.

“Calm down, Adi.” The boy stepped forward.

The girl growled and swiped at him. He went to knock her hands away but her nails scratched against his skin.

“So, you travelling alone?” He asked Lewis. All he could manage was a shaky nod.

“How about you join our guild, being a solo’s a good way to get killed.”

The boy opened up his own menu and clicked some buttons. Within an instant, a text box came up in front of Lewis, inviting him to join the guild ‘TRIBUNA’. He clicked ‘Accept’ and the menu vanished.

The girl, who had been addressed as Adi was seething.

“Okay, so the psycho with the crazy hair is Adrianna, our leader; the midget is Buttercup; the girl on the floor is Nina; and I’m Mike, second-in-command.”

Lewis looked around once more. All of the members of TRIBUNA seemed emotionally drained. That is, except for Adrianna, who was comforting Nina.

“Wait, what about that little girl?” He asked.

The silence became deafening.

“She-she was my little sister, Rosie.” Nina sniffed, “But, that monster…”

He didn’t need to know any more; he understood now. Rosie was gone.

“Where are we?” He asked.

“Well, we’re in Lochston, a town on the east-side of the gameboard.” Adrianna stood up, consulting a virtual map.

“Gameboard?”

“Oh, yeah, you lost your memories.” Buttercup spoke for the first time. Her voice was quiet and soft. “We’re in a game called Swordsmaster. It’s an online MMORPG. Thousands of people tried it out, and after making their account, they got sucked in. Their bodies disappeared from the real world and replaced their avatars.”

“Can’t we just log out?”

She shook her head, “The only way you can log out is if someone beats the game.”

“But surely, if this is a game, we could get Rosie back?”

The girl sighed, and pulled her arms around herself protectively. “If you die in Swordsmaster, your body is destroyed. So, it’s the same as deleting your account.”

Suddenly, the weight of all that he had heard from Buttercup hit him in the stomach. How could something like this happen?

“Lewis, are you okay? You look really pale.” She whispered, her voice trembling, “Adrianna, we should go to the inn and rest.”

“Fine.” She dusted herself off and led the solemn procession through the empty streets.

The roads were filled with twists and turns, and buildings rose up all around them. Adrianna must’ve been here before. Then she turned to face them all.

“I’m going to get some medicine to restore our HP. Mike; you go and pay for the room.” Then she set off down the path.

*

Lewis lay awake on his bed. He still couldn’t believe everything that had happened that day.

When Adrianna had returned, she gave medicine to everyone whose HP bar was low and the owner of the inn provided them with a small meal each, free of charge.

Most of the guild had fallen asleep right away, but Lewis and Adrianna weren’t planning on sleeping. She stared him down for hours, before she at last gave in to the clutches of sleep.

Was this all really happening?

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