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Pixel Courage 1

“Would you like help during this tutorial? I can provide tips, hints, and explain the mechanics of the game,” the tutorial helper said. She was a red human-dragon hybrid, walking on two legs. She had a sharp, glistening smile and yellow-greenish eyes. Her long tail whipped back and forth behind her.

“Go fuck yourself.” I drew the bow back, looking out in the distance. There was a Yone walking there. Essentially, the Yone were tall, rabid creatures. They walked on two legs, with big teeth and big ears. Looked like demonic rabbits.

It was hard to get the angle of the shot right, since all my Attributes were so low. But I’d played the Alpha and Beta versions of the game, so I knew what I was doing.

Plus, there was a bit of skill involved regardless of my Attribute levels. I strained against the bow. Felt its desire to hurtle the arrow off into the distance.

It was disorienting to see the way my arms struggled against the bow. Because this was just the tutorial, I hadn’t picked out a skin for my character. That meant I was simply a silhouette.

“Just to confirm: that’s a no?” the tutorial helper asked.

“That’s a no,” I grunted. Didn’t appreciate the distraction.

The Yone walked tall on two legs. I took note of its speed and the direction it was heading in. The trick was to aim the arrow where the Yone was going to be in a couple seconds, not where it was in the moment you let the arrow go.

When I’d gotten the aim right, I let the arrow go.

It flew through the air, slicing through yellow pixelated sky.

It fell several feet short.

The arrow caught the attention of the Yone, though. It whipped its head around. Even off in the distance, I could see its glowing red eyes. It loped in my direction, sinuous legs bringing it my way.

I took another arrow out of my quiver. Placed the arrow on the bowstring. My shadow arm struggled against the arrow for just a few seconds. I aimed, shot the arrow.

Too far to the right. The Yone was rapidly approaching.

Drew another arrow out of my quiver. Placed the arrow on the bow, then shot it.

The Yone was only five feet away, and the arrow flew straight in its path. At the last second, it dodged its head to the right. The arrow whizzed past, harmless.

The Yone was slobbering. It jumped. Tackled me. I fell to the ground.

The thing was ugly. Stuff of nightmares. It lay on top of me, its pelvis digging uncomfortably into my torso. It grabbed a hold of my wrists. My quiver dug against my back, hurting my spine.

“Can I get some help?” I asked. “Lor–” Just as I was about to say “Lord,” the Yone’s furry knuckles hit me right in the teeth.

I spat bright red blood onto the sickly yellow grass.

Before I understood what’d happened, it grabbed onto my wrist again.

“The world of Throne Quest is rich with lore, but if you want to understand it, you have to start at the beginning,” the tutorial helper said, “with The Four Sages, who fought Panopticon to defend this world from an evil unlike any seen before.”

Wished the helper would shut the fuck up, but I had more pressing concerns.

The Yone smashed its head against mine, which hurt like hell. But I reminded myself of something important: It’s not real. The pain isn’t real.

I jerked the right side of my body up. Took the Yone by surprise, which caused it to roll and let go of my right wrist.

“Panopticon was a ruler known for his brutal efficiency, but when he overstepped his bounds, the Four Sages came together, using their combined magical might to overcome his evil, authoritarian ways.”

Now I was on top of the Yone. It still had a hold of my my left wrist, though. I raised my fist in the air, then smashed it into the thing’s face.

9/10 HP

The bright green letters floated above its head for a second. The letters drifted upwards, becoming more translucent. They passed right through my face. Felt like a hot mist.

“Unfortunately, the clashing of powerful magicks broke this world, leading to what many call a Magical Fallout. The discolored grass is just the beginning of the trouble. Animals gaining sentience and growing evil, wild mysticlones, the odd coloring of the air around us. These are but a few of our many troubles.”

I raised my fist, brought it down again.

8/10 HP

“Make no mistake: this world is broken. That’s why we need heroes like you, who can fight back the evil creatures and help us survive, until one day we understand what makes this world tick. Then, hopefully, we can understand how to repair the damage that has been wrought.”

Brought my fist down again.

7/10 HP

The letters drifted upwards, hitting my face again.

The Yone squirmed in my grasp, but it didn’t break free. This was taking too long though, so I reached back. Grabbed onto an arrow and pulled it out of the quiver. Twirled it in my hand so that it was facing the Yone. I drove it straight into the Yone’s eye.

-8/10 HP

The Yone spasmed. Coughed up blood. Then, slowly, it dissipated. I felt it lose materiality. Within seconds, I was laying in the grass, no Yone to be found.

Next Chapter

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