Chapter 5 – Decision

“Alright, only one left now,” Sharon says as they walk through the corridors of the upper floor. Aléi has noticed that there are name plates on the doors, saying who lives in the room. It seems like there’s only one person per room. Aléi wonders how many rooms there are, but then guesses that if more people show up, more rooms might appear, like how the basement just was created.

Sharon stops in front of a door at a dead end. The door to her right reads ‘Phor-ty III’, while the one to her left says ‘Greenmushroom’. She stops and turns around to Aléi, looking serious.
“Okay, I should warn you about Greenmushroom,” she says.
“He’s… uh… kinda different.”
Aléi’s eyes turn wide. Is he dangerous? ‘Greenmushroom’ doesn’t sound like the name of a killer, but with that crazy Creator Martin you can’t be too sure. Didn’t they say that everyone are friends here though?
“Wow, you look nervous,” Sharon comments, then realises what she might have implied.
“Oh, sorry! I mean, Greens is just… he… . See for yourself,” she opens the door. Aléi goes into a battle stance, but doesn’t draw her sword.

The room inside is, interesting to say the least. In one of the corners, Aléi can see a white blanket curled up into a nest of some sort. Yellow boxes with white question marks are strewn around the room. Metal scraps and object are all over the place, making Sharon’s room look tidy in comparison. Small tables are placed along the wall, one has beakers and such on them, another a small computer with a monitor (not that Aléi has any idea of what that is). On the left wall, tools are suspended. However, there’s no sign of the so called ‘Greenmushroom’.

“One second! Stand back!” a voice suddenly says. Aléi looks around for the source and notices something move on the floor. It resembles a cartoon mushroom with a green cap. He pulls a lever on a small machine he’s standing in front of and the room is filled with a green light and an ominous humming sound. He turns the machine off and takes out a green orb from it, his hands being disconnected from his ‘body’, just floating around as if he had invisible arms. He inspects the orb, then turns around and lifts his goggles. He looks up at Sharon and Aléi with a happy smile, then suddenly loses the smile to a confused look and looks at you.

“Oh, I see,” he says before turning back to the girls with a smile. A confused Aléi looks at where Greenmushroom had looked, but only sees the wall.
“So you must be Aléi, nice to meet you,” Greenmushroom says. He’s around 35cm tall and instead of walking it seems like he’s sliding somehow.
Aléi goes down on her knees so that she can shake hands with him. Shaking hands with a floating, but otherwise normal-looking hand (except it’s a bit rounder) is more acceptable to her than shaking hands with a drawing.

“Yeah, um… hi,” she says as they shake hands.
“Sorry about the introduction, but I had to recharge the core for my gun,” Greenmushroom says and holds up the orb. It’s around the same size as his hand, but just a little bit bigger.
“I’m Greenmushroom, the local inventor,” he says while turning around to show his room.
“I guess I could show you some of my inventions some day, I just need to remember where I put them…”
Aléi looks at Sharon, who shrugs.
“I’m usually staying here in The Meeting Place. You see, I’m trying to get my dimension jumped to work,” Greenmushroom points to a construction twice his size in one of the corners. It’s a metal plate at the bottom with various arcs and lamps. At the top there is another clump of metal with lamps pointing down to the metal plate.

“It broke?” Aléi asks.
“It never worked, I’m still building it. But when I get it to work, then whoa,” he hits the thing with his fist.

“I guess that works as a tour, don’t you think?” Sharon asks Aléi.
“Yeah, I guess,” Aléi answers. She really found this place interesting and some of the people here were really nice, like Chiko and Sharon, but at the same time she missed her own world and friends she got there. Although she wanted adventure she wanted to adventure with her friends.
“Sweet, let’s go back to the lounge then,” Sharon says with a smile. They walk away.
“I’ll be right there,” Greenmushroom shouts after them.

*

When Sharon and Aléi returns to the lounge it’s a little more busy than it was before. In the other end of the room, Martin is sitting on a couch, playing on the small black box again. The corner got four couches around a low table. On the corner stage to their left, The Superhero is standing and is inspecting it, thinking about something.

Ashling seems to have finally woken up and is walking around behind the counter in front of them, getting things from the kitchen that’s connected to it. A delicious smell comes from the kitchen which reminds Aléi of her friend’s cooking.

Martin looks over to the corridor entrance and sees Sharon and Aléi. He puts away the gaming console and stands up to walk over to them.
“There you go,” he says when he reaches them.
“Not too bad, huh? I mean, it’s really weird and all, but it’s just so great.”
Aléi is not sure what to say.
“So, what do you say? Would you like to become a part of The Meeting Place?” Martin smiles.

Decisions like this has never been Aléi’s strong side. Making the wrong decision could have dire consequences. Just moments before she had arrived to The Meeting Place, her sister had wondered if they were going to trade a powerful orb for jewels. On one hand, keeping it could put their family in danger, but it wasn’t guaranteed giving the orb up would keep them safe either, on the other, giving it up would mean giving up on an adventure, and Aléi is a girl who wants to prove herself. Not many 16 year olds create an adventure group.

In the end, another offer came up: they were going to trade the orb for some powerful gear and weapons and get to use the hero of the land’s house as a shelter for a few days. He had also promised he would try to keep their families safe, but couldn’t guarantee it.

What happened afterwards was this, entering The Meeting Place.

“I mean, the offer is still up that if you want to leave and never come back you just have to leave,” Martin’s voice suddenly snaps Aléi out of her thoughts.
“I… don’t know,” Aléi quietly says.
“But, if you decide to stay you can always go back to your own world and return here whenever you want, but 16-17 out of 16-17 people have decided to stay, so it shouldn’t be that bad,” Martin says, uncertain at the exact numbers of patrons, but finishes it off with a wink.
“Not to mention the supporting characters…” he mumbles to himself and chuckles.

Aléi looks at the doors. One decision.
“I can leave anytime?”
“Yup.”

“I’d like to say that the brief tour hardly does any justice on how amazing this place is,” Sharon suddenly says. Catching the attention of both Martin and Aléi.
“That’s actually true,” Martin agrees.
“We aren’t restricted to just this interdimensional building. You will be able to visit and explore everyone else’s worlds and also a copy of yours. Just a copy as the real main world can only be changed when I’m using like with a… roleplaying session. It’s confusing, I know, but believe me, it’s awesome,” he explains, sounding like he’s pointing out what emotions Aléi should have about each part: interested, puzzled, confused and back to interested.

“Please?” Chiko suddenly enters and gives Aléi a smile of a true friend. Aléi looks down, gathering the courage to reach a decision.

Yes or no? Yes… or no…

“Okay,” she finally says, hoping she won’t regret it.
Chiko hugs her. Aléi smiles. Sharon jumps and does a fist pump as she lands. Martin smiles happily.
“Now, let’s get this party started!”

*

Mere minutes later, the lounge is filled with the patrons. The lighting has dimmed a bit and is focusing on the stage on which The Superhero is standing with an electric guitar, a ‘advanced guitar synthesizer’ as he puts it. On its backside Aléi noticed a keyboard like on a piano. With it, he manages to play all different kinds of songs.

Food has been served and it’s revealed to Aléi that the food is cooked by Gidel, who is from the same world as herself. Apparently Gidel was a chef before she decided to be a cleric.
“Kinda like Anize, except the other way around,” Aléi thinks for herself.

Everyone is sitting around the lounge. Tristan is on a stool at the counter, observing The Superhero play music with bored eyes. The Phor-tys and Jordan are sharing a table away from the stage discussing things. Martin, Maria and Chiko are sitting with Aléi, talking about The Meeting Place and having a good time.

Cilantro, Rodney and Ashling are walking around, serving food and drinks if anyone wants.

Over at the ‘couch corner’ Martin is sitting alone with a soda can, enjoying the music his alter ego creates, currently challenging himself by playing the staff roll of Super Mario Galaxy 2. Orchestral music is tricky when you only got strings and a keyboard to play on, but with his fast reflexes and the ability to record things it gets a bit easier.

Sharon takes a seat right next to him. She is holding a plate of food and a soda can as well which she places on the table.
“What are you doing here alone for?” she asks.
“I’m not the party type,” Martin explains with a smile.
“Besides…” he begins, but stops.
“Never mind,” he takes a clunk from the soda. The can reads ‘Tasty Pear’ in pixely letters. The two fall into silence as they listen to the music and eat.

“You knew she would say yes, didn’t you?” Sharon suddenly asks. Martin looks at her with a sneaky smile.
“I created her, didn’t I?”
Sharon chuckles. He has a point. Martin smiles then looks at Chiko, who is sitting next to Aléi, listening to Aléi talking about herself.
“Besides, Chiko is IQ group H,” Martin says and turns back to Sharon with a smile.
Sharon gets confused and looks over at Chiko, having no idea what Martin meant with that.

“So, did anything scare her?” Martin asks after a moment of silence. Sharon finishes her bite and nods.
“Then I guess we’ll wait a bit before showing her the worlds…” Martin says and stands up.
“Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I want to sing something.”
Sharon nods again and Martin heads over to the stage.

As for Aléi, she hopes for the life of her that The Meeting Place isn’t one of Lord Appello’s tricks to get the orb from her. She is happy that she can finally relax and seems to have made a new friend already, not to mention most of the people here are very nice.
It’s a shame though her friend and sister aren’t here. Aléi decides that she will ask Martin about it later, but for now she will enjoy the party dedicated to her and the first proper rest since she formed her adventure group.

THE END

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