52 Pio, Wake Up!
"Is everyone out?" Astrid asked as she looked around for any more players who need help. Debris was falling from the ceiling. The cloud of dust it caused made it difficult to clearly see the whole area.
Luna covered her nose. "Wait. I think I see someone on the ground."
"Pio!" Astrid recognized the Black Rose priest lying on the ground. She ran up to him while Luna followed behind her.
"I hope there are still priests around. I do not want to have to carry him while fighting off things that are out to kill us." Luna looked around.
"Don't worry. I packed a few warp tickets to Lamont. There's enough for three of us."
"But this guy is unconscious! How is he supposed to activate it?"
Astrid stared hard at the sleeping priest. She slapped him hard. "Pio, wake up."
"Girl, you're gonna drive him deeper into a coma!"
"Got any better ideas?"
"Nope." Luna paused. "Ok. Let's slap him awake."
After a few more slaps, Pio finally woke up from his sleep. His cheeks were already red. "What...? Why do my cheeks hurt?"
The ground shook as a large boar entered the ballroom. It spotted them almost immediately despite their attempt at hiding. It prepared itself to charge straight at them.
"Warp to Lamont now!" Astrid shouted frantically.
"Now Pio!" The girls shouted in unison.
"Ok!" Pio was also in panic.
The three of them warped just in time before they were crushed to death by the boar.
"Too many near death experiences in one day!" Luna said with a mix of relief and exhaustion when the three of them arrived at Lamont.
"Astrid! Luna!" Lyria ran to both of them. "Let's hurry to the gate. This area isn't safe either."
"Is everyone here?"
"Yep. We're all here!" Anna replied.
"Ok, let's get out of here."
The girls ran to where the gate leading to the real world was. For some reason, there was a crowd of people just standing there. The gate didn't look like it was activated either.
"The gates aren't working!" Someone shouted.
Everyone stared in horror. The nightmare wasn't over. They were trapped in Aries with no real way to defend themselves and little information about the situation. The girls gathered where their friends from Black Rose and Jupiter were pooling in ideas for an escape plan.
"My glorious golden cape is ruined! This is simply terrible!" Gaylord lamented over his ruined outfit.
"Where are we supposed to go? We can't stay here in town. The monsters can still get us here," Jasmine was in panic. She wasn't sure how to handle the situation. After all, it's not every day you get trapped in an artificial world.
Frisk thought quickly. "How about the guild headquarters?"
"Is it really safe there?"
"I can go check."
"Take someone with you, Frisk. Going alone is risky," said Garth.
"Aye. I'll send a message if it's safe."
Frisk warped to the Jupiter guild headquarters along with one mage from his guild. They waited for a short while and walked around, before declaring the area safe. He sent out messages to all guildmasters in his contact list.
"There's Frisk's message. He says it's safe," said Astrid when the mail arrived in her inbox. "Let's hurry."
"Everyone, warp to your guild headquarters and take refuge there!" Sed walked around and shouted. "Tell everyone you know before it's too late!"
"I don't have a guild!" One player shouted.
Garth whispered to his second-in-command, "Sed, invite those players with no guild to Black Rose. I'll ask the other guildmasters to do the same."
"We should help spread the word too," Astrid said to the Noctis Noir members. "Invite the guildless players and have them take refuge in our headquarters."
"Aye aye!" Amelie did a salute.
"Lyria, you'd better go on ahead to the headquarters. It would be bad if you get caught up in battle."
"Alright. All of you please stay safe," Lyria said before warping.
Once there were no more players in sight, the Black Rose members and Noctis Noir got ready to teleport to their guild instance field.
Suddenly, the ground trembled.
"Something is coming! Let's hurry!" Luna rushed the girls.
They all hurriedly warped. They didn't want to stick around to find out about what was causing the tremor.
"Are you guys alright?" Astrid asked as she and the girls caught their breaths.
"Never better," Luna replied while lying down on the soft grass.
"That was a close one." Lyria sighed in relief.
"T-That was a piece of cake," said a trembling Amelie while pretending to be cool.
"Amelie, your legs are shaking," Luna pointed out.
"I-I-It's Chris! A-And I'm not trembling!"
"Holy cabbages! We almost died!" Anna couldn't hold in her reaction. "What in the world was that? Why would someone plan something like this?"
The guildless players they adopted gathered together. They looked like they were afraid of something. The girls turned to the direction of the menace they feared so much.
The shadow of a wyvern. Rune.
"No..." Amelie trembled. "No, no! Not Rune too!"
"Amelie, run!" Luna shouted.
"It's Chris!" Amelie stayed still as the wyvern landed in front of her and slowly approached her.
"Don't eat me please!" Amelie begged.
"Amelie! No!" Lyria shouted in horror.
With nowhere else to run, Amelie closed her eyes and prepared herself for what was to come. When the wyvern's shadow loomed over her, Rune licked her.
"Ew. Sick. Way too much drool!" Amelie complained as she was covered in wyvern drool.
Rune jumped on her and continued licking playfully.
"Rune isn't evil?" Luna was shocked.
"I guess not," said Astrid.
"That's a relief," Lyria sighed. "I'm getting tired of all these bad surprises."
"It looks like we're stuck here for the time being."
Astrid looked back at the frightened players they recruited into the guild to save their lives. They were still fidgety from the sudden disaster that fell upon all of Aries. Nobody could have predicted this. They had no choice but to carefully use every means of survival they had. Every choice could result in either life or death.
Would we really survive this?