That answer wasn't good enough for 1709. "Why did I lose my balance? What's wrong with my eye? Why can't I move or feel my arm?"
Lentie took a step back at that barrage of information. "Uh... that looks like you're trying to tell me I'm fairly normal."
The character Lentie Flyndon is relatively unremarkable.
"Thanks? That doesn't explain why one of my arms is completely inoperable! Or why my... eye is malfunctioning!" She attempted to swear but none of the bad words that came to mind seemed to fit right. "Argh!"
Somewhere overhead, some birds sang to one another. Tree branches rubbed against one another in the breeze and the leaves on the ground rustled.
"No answer?" Lentie lazily kicked the heels of her boots into a pile of leaves. "I suppose I didn't really ask a question. Um... Can you tell me if something's wrong with my brain?"
The Very Imaginary Virtual Integrated Dreamtime service is licensed only to provide entertainment. For a diagnosis of hypothetical brain damage or mental degradation, you may find it to be appropriate to seek the professional services of a licensed medical specialist. This statement should not be considered to be professional advice of any type.
"I..." 1709 realised there was no point in continuing to discuss her problems. From everything she'd heard from Kanda, brain damage or mental degradation seemed like something that was expected in 'ghosts'. Whether that entailed the possibility of expert medical help was unknown, but unlikely in 1709's estimation. She was fairly sure she could not expect any such help if she failed her quest. "How long do I have to get to Star Town?"
"Then I'd better get a move on."
An hour later found Lentie Flyndon still stumbling towards Star Town. In spite of her vision and balance being rated as common or above, she had fallen several times. Each time she had struggled to her feet and brushed herself as clean as possible. She was beginning to learn to compensate for the utter limpness of her left arm, but it was a slow and painful process. The uncontrollable visual hallucinations that had replaced her right eye's vision were no less of a problem. Sometimes they were distracting, sometimes it was merely a nuisance to lack depth perception, and in the worst moments it was extremely nauseating. It was a wonder that she hadn't lost her breakfast.
One thought kept her walking up and down the rolling hills and navigating between shady trees and around treacherous rabbit burrows. If she gave up, she would be sent back to the endless almost-nothingness of the ghost cache. The nausea and the falling was awful, but at least she had something interesting to look at. Almost anything would have seemed beautiful to 1709, but this place was no slouch. For lack of a better word, everything was vivid. Intellectually, she knew this was some kind of virtual dream-game, but it felt more real and present than the stifling, bland repetition of Cube Farm 3. Even the tree bark felt and smelled real when she crushed some in her working hand.
She was glad for the sensory distractions. The sights, sounds, and scents had helped distract her from the loneliness, for a time. But she had no one to share her experiences with, so the loneliness asserted itself again. She found it to be a strange feeling, as she could not really remember what it was to not be alone. There was a vague sense of presence and belonging which she couldn't quite get her mind around, but she could not remember any specific people from her past. Not knowing who she was missing or what good times she'd enjoyed made it worse, because there was no specific happiness to look back on.
I suppose I'll have to make new happy memories. That'll be tough, working from scratch with no idea what I like. Or what I should look for in a friend. Though I'm somewhat lacking choices in that area at the moment. The omnipresent system voice doesn't count.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a distance sound. It took her several seconds to understand what she was hearing. From the other side of the small hill she was climbing, voices were audible. She'd found people!
1709 wanted to run directly to the voices, but stopped herself. She was meant to be playing the role of Lentie, and she had no idea whether the speakers were potential friends or foes. In the latter case, she did not like her chances of fleeing, and she had no idea how effective she might be in a fight.
Though now that I think about it, I expect I'd do poorly. Even without my problems, Lentie doesn't seem like a fighter.
Choosing caution, Lentie lowered herself and crawled forward in near-silence. Calling her movements crawling was generous. A more accurate description would be walking on her knees with an arm for some extra support. After some struggling, she realised she was more likely to be spotted this way than if she simply walked up and peered over the top of a hill. There grass on this hill was quite short, leaving nothing to hide behind but a single tree on the peak, and the hill itself.
A quick glance over the peak revealed a total of five human figures. They stood in a loose cluster on a dusty track which wound between the hills. A second look showed her that the people fell into two groups: three wearing simple hooded grey robes and leading pack animals, and two with bulky brown outfits which she figured had to be armour. The armoured pair were standing on opposite sides of the hooded trio. She could not see whether they were armed, but it was a reasonable expectation.
"Not our problem," someone said, sounding as uncaring as a desert. Had 1709 experienced a desert? Possibly.
"But... We can't..." One of the hooded people pulled their animal to the side, a little further from both armoured people. It was clear enough to Lentie what was going on. This was a robbery. Presumably an armed robbery.
1709 thought back to the instructions Kanda had given. Avoiding fights and avoiding interacting with players were both high on the list of rules for basic return missions, such as she was on now. Lentie had to reach Star Town, and nothing else mattered. The robbery was not her problem either. Staying hidden was the right choice, this time.
The best choice, perhaps, but it doesn't feel like the right choice.