Chapter 5:

A Familiar Face


Quickly, 2 years have passed since our main protagonist joined the Adventurer Guild. A defeated looking Leo can be seen sitting at one of the tables in the guild. This past year and a half have been especially rough for him. Even with all the effort he made, Leo has yet to find a party that he can call home. Why is this so? Little did he know at the time, party-hoping is a technique very frowned upon by adventurers. In addition to that, he has a bad reputation because of all the rumors started by his former party members. To some parties Leo leaving wasn’t a big deal, but with most parties there were usually big arguments that would occur between them. In short, no party wants to take in such a controversial character. Frustrated with that, Leo attempted to create his own party. He pondered the thought of moving back to the capital, but decided that moving to a new town would be best. He posted a money reward to find members, offering up every penny he had in his pockets. To his despair, his reputation has exceeded the no return point and no one wants to join him. Leo is at the end of his road, the now 20 year old is considering quitting adventuring.

Distraught, Leo walks around the unfamiliar town. He sees a newly opened coffee store and walks towards it.

“Why not?”- Leo tells himself.

The place looks crowded but Leo didn’t really mind, he just wanted some time to think and reflect as he waited in line. His turn came and he was seated at a table. All the waitresses are in maid outfits, it was a new type of attraction by the store to get customers. Leo is too lost in his thoughts to notice his surroundings as he sits down. A waitress walks over, giving him a menu, with her set of bahonkers covering up half of the view. Impressively, Leo is still so out of it that he didn’t even notice it.

“What would you like to order?- A familiar voice asks.

“Uh...anything is fine.”- Leo answers in a dead tone, with no attempt of even looking up.

“Ok, then it will be the Chocolate parfait special with 4 extra caramel sauces and 4 special flavors of ice cream and 2 dragon eggs. All topped with the strongest coffee, sunny side up omelette and 2 bags of jelly on the side and 6 bowls of rice .”- The waitress confidently reads the order out loud.

The whole cafe freezes and stares at Leo in shock because of his order. Leo, of course, is still too spaced out to notice.

“WHAT DID HE ORDER?!?”- a voice can be heard echoing through the kitchen from a chef.

20 minutes later, a giant bowl with the order is slammed on the table. Because of its sheer weight, it has to be carried by 4 waitresses. Leo is snapped out of his thoughts from seeing the massive bowl.

“WHAT???!!!”- Leo screams as he looks over.

He sees a familiar face of the person he never managed to say goodbye to. Her short brown hair is still the same, and even better, she is in a maid outfit! She turned out to be even more of a looker these past 2 years.

“Will that be all?”- Natalie jokingly asks.

Leo was so happy to see her that he jumped up, just to be bonked on the head by her. She asks him to finish his meal, something that looks like an impossible task. Leo still attempted to do it regardless. 2 hours passed with Leo only managing to eat half of it, and was forced by the manager to pay up. Of course he couldn’t really afford it, so he had to pay with what he got left. After paying with his rewards money, he was kicked out for new customers before he could get a chance to talk to Natalie. As he was getting pulled out by security, Natalie whispers to him:

“Tonight, after my shift. Meet me outside of this store.”

After being carried outside and nowhere to go, Leo stood opposite the store waiting for Natalie. Night comes, and as the last few customers take their leave, the store begins to close. Half an hour later, Natalie can be seen leaving the store, still wearing her maid outfit. Leo runs up to meet her and they talk.

“It’s been a while hasn’t it? The last thing I was expecting from seeing the famous Leo again was a defeated looking zombie.”- Natalie said.

“Things have been rough these past few years, ignore that. More importantly, where did you go right after graduation?” - Leo asks.

“Oh, I just didn’t want to see your face.”- Natalie replies with a smirk.

“NO WAY! REALLY?”- Leo asks.

“Just kidding, I had some errands to do so I left right as the ceremony ended. Sorry I couldn’t say goodbye that day.”- Natalie said quietly, looking down on the ground.

“Oh, I see now.”- Leo answers.

“Well, back on topic. It was surprising to see you so out of it, that’s why I pulled that prank on you.”- Natalie smiles as she looks over.

“YOU CALL THAT A PRANK? Your definition of a prank is still as crazy as always I see.”- Leo scratches his head.

“So why are you working here… in that weird outfit?”- Leo asks.

“Well, many things have happened since graduation. You know that promise we all made in school, how we are all going to go on a great adventure. I took that to heart, becoming an adventurer. Been in a few parties as a primary damage mage, but I never really ended up getting any real experience. Most parties are in it for the money, they are too afraid to ever go on a proper adventure. So I ended up quitting, for the past year I have been doing many part time jobs. This is my most recent job, I’m kind of digging this outfit.”- Natalie replies.

“So you ended up just the same as me. These people don’t know what it is like to have a real adventure.”- Leo angrily states.

“Well your tales of Adventurers back in the academy days did inspire a lot of us to become an Adventurer. I too was inspired by you.”- Natalie looks up as she reminisces.

“Those were just tales of characters in the video games I played when I was alive.”- Leo thought to himself.

“But I guess the adventure life you wanted never came for both of us. It’s just the grown up reality we have to accept, not everything in life goes the way you want”- Natalie melancholically said.

“Well, enough about the depressing stuff. What do you plan to do now? They are hiring chefs if you are looking for a job. I can go with you to ask the boss.”- Natalie asks.

“Want to go on an adventure with me?”

The question stopped both of them in their tracks. There was a brief moment of silence as the sound of the night filled the street. Leo looks up at the sky, refusing to look over to his left where Natalie is standing. The two stood still for a few minutes, as if they were statues placed there on the ground.

“We all love the tales you had back in the academy days, but time has changed. We are all grown up now. It is about time you accept the painful truth”- Natalie finally replied, slowly and quietly.

“Say, would you believe me if I told you that I was once an omnipotent mage with infinite magic abilities only to die from being hit by a horse carriage?”- Leo asks.

“There you go again with your wild stories, that’s what I like about you.”- Natalie chuckles.

“Then just this once, would you trust me? I promise that you will not regret a moment of it.”- Leo looks directly at Natalie.

“I…”-Natalie averts her gaze.

Leo walks directly up to her and grabs her shoulder, looking directly into her face. He is no longer shorter than her like before, when they first met at the Academy. It is her this time that is looking up at him. Natalie remembers all the stories Leo told in class, and the many encounters they had along with their classmates during her time at the academy. It is all flashing by quickly in her head and finally goes back to the present.

“Just this once… just this once… I trust you.”- Natalie answers.

Leo gave the brightest smile, he was elated by her answer. Reality finally kicks back in and he realizes that he is grabbing her on the shoulder, in a romantic looking pose. He can also see that Natalie is blushing and immediately he lets go and jumps back to his old position a few feet away. The two silently walk through the quiet night street. Leo’s party has now gained its first member.