"Matthew Porter? I'm sorry to break it to you, but you're stalking the wrong guy. My name's Matthew Doe."
"No, you're definitely the right guy." The girl continued to stare at me with her serious expression. There was also a sense of pity in her eyes.
"No, I'm not. My full name is Matthew Doe." I corrected her again.
"No...you're not." She frowned as her eyes darted to the floor.
"Okay...let's assume that I AM Matthew Porter. What do you want with him?"
The girl walked up to me and pleaded with her best puppy dog eyes. "Do you want to chat over a meal? It's on me!"
Is...this her way of flirting or something? Does she have me mistaken for some long-lost high school sweetheart? Regardless of whether that's the case or not, she's definitely going about it all wrong.
"Listen, I'm not looking for anything right now-"
"WHAT?! EW NO!" She shook her head, furiously denying my accusation.
HUH?! Is it really that bad of a suggestion?! It's not like I'm ugly or anything!
"THEN WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU ASKING ME OUT TO DINNER FOR?!" I shouted at her and she began to back up.
"I JUST WANT TO PLATONICALLY GET TO KNOW YOU! WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT?!" She shouted back at me in response.
Great. Now we're just a couple of idiots shouting in an alleyway. There's nothing more suspicious than this. I have to see my way out of this conversation as soon as possible.
"This was fun, but I've got somewhere to be." I walked past her and began to leave the alleyway.
She began to follow right behind me like a pet not long after.
"Where are you going?"
She's not going to leave me alone, is she? She's way less dangerous than Walter told me she was though, so I'll entertain her.
"I'm gonna go people watching at the park."
"And you call ME the creep..." She shifted away from me a couple of steps.
I may be a bit weird for this, but there's a clear difference between her and I: at least I'm not invading multiple levels of these people's private life. After she was done judging me, she asked why I decided to do it.
"There's this girl that has lost people close to her and I've been wondering how to cheer her up. There's...a good chance that I didn't have a normal childhood and I don't want to make her feel worse when trying to brighten up her day." I spilled out what was on my mind.
"Hmmmm...girl problems! I can help with that! When's the next time you see her?" she asked.
"Two days from today at a party in my honor."
"OH! I JUST GOT A WAY BETTER IDEA THAN WHATEVER THE HELL YOU WERE DOING! FOLLOW ME!" The girl skipped ahead of me and led the way. Bold of her to assume that I was just going to follow her.
Her assumption was correct. I'm now intrigued in what she has planned.
The girl then turned around quickly and told me her name "By the way! My name's Hope! Nice to meet you!"
"Nice to meet you. I WOULD give a longer introduction, but it seems you know a lot about me already." I responded.
"Weeeeeeeeee're here!" Hope jumped in the air in celebration.
Hope...took me to a dance studio....
It was titled Francesca's Dance Studio. What's the big idea here? Is she just trying to waste my time? Why are we at a dance studio?! Hope immediately noticed my confused face and explained.
"If I'm being honest: People grieve in different ways. Some people cry, some people need to be left alone. Some people like company. The best we can do is be there when they need us. But I'll tell you something: you can surely try to make it better! At the party, you need to dance with her. She's gonna find it so cute-AHHHHHHH! I'm so excited for you two!" She walked through the dance studio's doors and began speaking with the manager. I followed.
I can't tell if she's trying to torpedo my relationship with Lucia so she can weasel her way in. The whole "she wants to date me" option is still possible. Why else would she be doing all of this?
The manager then turned to me and asked "Is this girl closer to Hope's height or my height?"
I eyed down the both of them and confirmed: She's around Hope's height. Slightly shorter than me. However, Hope is a bit shorter than Lucia.
"In that case, Hope will be dancing with you. We've got two days so every second counts. Let's get you on the dance for." Francesca clapped and the three of us got on the mat.
"What we're going to learn is a quickstep variation that I taught Hope for her audition on America's got talent."
"You were on America's got talent?"
"Yup! Jealous?" She teased me.
"Not really. I'm not interested in fame. Just results."
"I'll demonstrate the variation with Hope. Watch closely."
Francesca grabbed Hope and the two took off. They danced around the studio swiftly and synchronously, with both of their torso's spinning around each other. You could tell that these two were professionals. As soon as they finished, I applauded them.
Francesca then handed off Hope to me and told me to try my best to mimic what I just saw.
It went...horribly. After three moves, Francesca started to curse under her breathe and Hope had to stop so she could drop to the floor in laughter.
"WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! YOU WERE LIKE A MONSTER DOING A RITUAL DANCE! DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT TEMPO IS?! DIDN'T THEY AT LEAST TEACH YOU IN MUSIC CLASS?!"
"OF COURSE NOT! I NEVER WENT TO SCHOOL!"
Hope stopped laughing and looked me right in the eyes. "Really?"
"Really." I said.
"Hm...I'm sorry to hear that..." She said.
What's wrong with her?! One moment she's laughing uncontrollably at me, another she's at the verge of tears on my behalf. What kind of parasocial relationship does she have with me?!
"Alright!" Francesca broke the silence in the room by offering a suggestion. "Let's try a more basic variation: a waltz. We'll do three basic steps.
Francesca danced with Hope once again and the dance they were doing was way easier this time. This is it! This is way easier! I won't mess this up!
"PFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFT HAHAHAHAAHAHAHHA! WHAT THE HELL?! DO YOU HAVE TWO LEFT FEET OR SOMETHING?!"
By the end of our dance, Hope was on the floor laughing again. Something about her laugh annoyed me to no end.
Francesca was on the floor, but not laughing. She was in total defeat after seeing what she just saw.
"I...think you're unteachable. I've never seen such terrible dancing in my life..." As the instructor recovered, she put her palm to her face in utter shame.
Between Hope's teasing and Francesca's pessimism, I really don't like how these two are counting me out of the race.
"FRANCESCA! I'LL LEARN THAT BASIC WALTZ EVEN IF IT KILLS ME! LET'S DO THIS!"
"I like your enthusiasm, kid. Let's do this!" The two of us linked arms. In this moment, we made an unseverable bond. We were going to to turn the failure that is me into a certified casual dancer!
"Aww man. This is gonna be a long two days." Hope recovered from her laughter and began to stand on her two feet again.
We then worked as hard as we could to make me better by dancing the night away.
"Why didn't we just quit the guild or stop playing this game?! He's gonna kill us for our failure!"
"Pooooolk. Buuuuuuuuuddy. Relax! I can assure you that he's not gonna kill us!'
Polk and I both failed in our mission of claiming the scorching sands for Anarchy and had to go back to the guild hall in Jericho as soon as possible. He's a bit nervous, but I keep telling him that everything's gonna be fine.
"How much do you want to bet that he'll kill us?"
"Polk, if we bet and you win, I don't think you'll have much of a chance to spend your winnings." I joked with him.
As we stepped into the church, we noticed our guild leader Meros standing at the podium and no one else. He didn't waste a single second and began the meeting.
"Gash... what went wrong?"
"The Marauder of White found us out. It can't be helped." I shrugged.
"The fool that faced off with the assassin Mitree?"
"The same one!" I gave a thumbs up to the guild leader.
His eyes darted back and forth between Polk and I. His breathing was getting heavier and heavier until he unsheathed his blade and destroyed the podium in front of him. After various splinters and chunks of wood went flying in different directions of the church, he sighed and recomposed himself.
"It's alright. What's done is done. What matters now is how we move forward."
Polk wore a shocked expression. Is it really that surprising? He called us to Jericho, after all. If he wanted us killed, he would've made us meet in the forest or something.
The real reason he hasn't killed us, or rather ME, is simple. Ever since I met him, he has been using a certain type of wording. A recent instance being the last Anarchy meeting. He calles me "a man that I think has the potential to rule this guild in the event that I die."
The boss is a strong man. Some people even call him Meros the Titan. I can't imagine anyone being able to kill him. So for him to say something like "in the event that I die" instead of something like "if I stop playing this game" made me think. It may be a jump or a far accusation, but I think Meros has an illness or disease that'll kill him soon.
The theory aligns with why he wants to pass the guild onto me so much. Whenever we're alone, he always looks me in the eye and says "I'm certain you could carry on my dream, Gash."
"Take a look at this." Meros threw a rolled piece of parchment paper at me.
When I opened it to see the contents of the document, I recognized it as a hero contract between Anarchy and Co-live. It states that in the event that Co-live helps slow down Diligence, we have to help them secure the kingdom in the blazing blizzards.
They already lived up to their end up the bargain, so we're contractually obligated to live up to our end.
Or are we?
"Because of this contract, we're set back even further than I could imagine. At this rate, we're going to have to wait until the Molten Lands to have a chance at an official guild hall. And that's if no other guilds rise above the ranks-"
"I found a loophole." I mentioned to the boss.
"Already?" Meros was impressed.
"How?! The contract says that members of Anarchy have to help Co-live secure the blazing blizzard's kingdom!"
"kehehe! Exactly! With the plan I have, we'll take that frontier for ourselves and may be able to crush Co-live as a bonus!" I gave a wicked smile as I turned to Meros.
"Yo bossman! I'm gonna need you to train up as much Anarchy members as possible! We'll be doing some training ourselves!"
"We will?-HEY!" Polk protested as I dragged him out of the church. That's cute. He thinks he has a choice!
I'm so excited! One day I'll be able to meet up with you again, Matthew. But for now, I have to get stronger, the GUILD has to get stronger. And when we finally get strong enough, I'll take everything that ylu love and reduce it to dust!
"kekkekekekekeke... HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" My laughter echoed and reverberated throughout the guild hall as I walked away with Polk's collar in my hand.