“It doesn’t count if you’re already planning your defeat.” Anders laughed and picked up his d20. “You shouldn’t metagame anyway. You’re confused, but maybe Nuvo isn’t.”
I groaned. “Fine. What are my options then?”
Meeting Haley’s friends had turned out to be a real adventure all right. I chewed on my lip, trying to ignore the feeling of eyes on me.
He smiled. “All right, so Nuvo is outside of the gates to this city, and there’s a guard asking if you want to explain why you’re sneaking around their walled city. You can fight him, or you can try to talk your way out of it.”
I sighed and looked Bryce, Jacob, and Haley for any pointers. Finding nothing, but their attention on me, I shrugged. “All right. And what was wrong with surrendering? I said I put my hands up and surrender. How is that not an option?”
“Soy, you gotta at least try to do something.” Haley squeezed my knee under the table. “Anders, my character, Sylvar, is going to try to sneak up and join Sawyer’s character since she’s been out looking for her. Can I do that since I found her tracks before you cut away to her encountering the guards?”
Anders looked from me to Haley and then cleared his throat. “Okay.”
“Nuvo, there you are!” Sylvar walked from the edge of the forest to the guard and Nuvo.
“Whoa there! Who’s this?” The guard frowned and looked at the second elf approaching in dark clothing. “What are you doing sneaking around at this hour?”
Hands up, Sylvar motioned to the elf in front of the guard. “My friend here got lost from our campsite. We’ve been drinking quite heavily. She’s a bit drunk if you can’t tell.”
Reaching them, she threw an arm around Nuvo. She whispered to the lost elf. “Act drunker.”
Nuvo hiccuped. “Sorry. I am very, very lost.”
The guard eyed the two, but after a moment, he dismissed them with a wave of his hand. “Get out of here. We’re not looking for trouble in this city.”
Sylvar gave a slight bow and wrapped her arm around Nuvo’s waist. “Thank you, sir. We won’t bother you anymore. Thank you. C’mon Nu, let’s get back to camp. I’m sure the guys are worried. You’ve been gone for a minute.”
Nuvo nodded and slurred a goodbye before Sylvar led them away.
Once they were safely back in the forest, Sylvar let go of her with a sigh. “You gotta stop wandering off in the woods alone. Didn’t you say that’s what got you lost from your group in the first place?”
Nuvo ducked her head a little. “I was just checking out the nature. These trees are very peculiar. Did you know, they don’t grow anywhere but here?”
Sylvar looked at the other elf, confused and bewildered. “I didn’t know that. Couldn’t you have explored them in the morning when someone could have accompanied you?”
She laughed. “I suppose I should have waited, huh?”
Once they were back at camp, Float, the water Genasi keeping watch, nodded when the two elves appeared. He drew in the dirt with a stick, keeping his eyes peeled for danger. The two ladies slipped into their bedrolls without disturbing the sleeping Firbolg, Qidan.
“All right, we’ll pick up there next week.” Anders clapped and smiled at the four of us.
“Did you like it?” Haley’s smile was even wider than his.
It felt like everyone was holding their breath, including Bryce and Jacob. I rubbed my neck.
“Yeah it was fun. Thanks for letting me join.” I slipped my dice into the felt bag and shut my notebook. “How do you come with all that stuff, Anders?”
Bryce laughed. “He’s a machine!”
He nodded. “Yeah, I’m constantly thinking of new and weird things to do. But this particular story has been in my head for a while. We’ve been playing for what?” He paused and looked at Jacob.
“Uh about two years?” Jacob flipped through his notebook. “Yeah, two years.”
Anders smiled. “I’ve had it in my head for even longer.”
Once my bag was packed, Haley took that as the signal that we were ready to go. She slipped into her jacket and held mine out. Taking it from her, I put it on and threw my bag over my shoulder.
After a lot of goodbyes, Haley and I were holding hands on the walk to her car.
“You just do that all the time?”
“Yeah, once a week. Did you have fun? You don’t have to come back if you didn’t. I just wanted to share it with you.”
We’d been dating for all of two months, but I was still desperate to impress her. Did I have fun? Yeah, it was a lot of fun, but it was also a lot to take in. Everyone had been doing accents and voices. I hadn’t expected any of it.
“It was fun. I thought your British accent was hot, too.” I laughed and bumped our joined hands against her side. “I didn’t know you could do voices.”
“Former theatre kids,” she said. Shrugging, she unlocked the car. “I wasn’t joking when I warned you that we all have a flare of theatrics.”
“Yeah. It was really cool to see you and your friends be all animated.” I buckled into the passenger seat.
“It was really cool to not be the only girl for a change. In and out of game.”
I laughed. “I can imagine.”
We drove in silence for a while, letting the radio fill the crisp, night air. I thought more about Nuvo Keyrel and wondered what kind of adventurer she would turn out to be. I imagined her pointed ears, her silver hair, and blue eyes; her forest-inspired outfit of brown pants and green shirt. What was her backstory? What was her future? Presently, she was an elf the other three had come across in a forest; she was looking for something, but I didn’t know what yet.
“Do you think you’ll come back with me next week?”
I looked up. We were parked outside of her apartment. Blinking, I came back from thinking about Nuvo and nodded.
“Oh, yeah, I’d love that.”