Memories and Melodies

by: Soulwielder
The announcement was all over the news. My social media accounts’ notifications blared altogether, solidifying the promotions around the launching of Anime Metaverse. I prepared thoroughly for this day. The only thing left for me to do is wait for enough hype to finally enter the metaverse.
“Welcome to Anime Metaverse!” an AI voice announced as I logged in to my account. Today, I am finally a Soulmate.
I looked around the island and gasped. The hype truly lived up to my expectations and more.
‘Finally! Wow, this is truly magnificent. I can’t believe I’m here now!’ I gushed in excitement.
‘Now, where to start?’ I asked myself as I committed to memory the grandiose Anime Metaverse.
I walked around the main island with confidence, navigating the map in my game system.
‘Oh, that’s Rikka’s antique shop!' I sprinted towards the building with a smile etched on my face. I opened the double doors and was greeted by Rikka’s NPC…or was it? It was just impossible to tell apart whether she was the real Rikka.
“Welcome, Soulmate!” Her smile was the sweetest, making me chuckle in delight. Noting the customary NPC greeting, I felt a tiny disappointment that I couldn’t meet the legend herself.
“Hi, so what activities can I do here?” I asked, not sure which one yielded fun the fastest. I was on a mission, and I should focus my resources on that.
“Oh, there’s a lot of activities to choose from- you can read manga, the shelves are to your left. You can check the antiques displayed on your right. Some are for sale, and some are not. We also have NFT collections on display in the mini gallery-”
“Okay, sounds fun. Thank you!” I butted in. ‘This NPC rambles on too much! I can always venture by myself.’
“Enjoy your stay!” she said, and I smiled back at her then sauntered towards the bookshelves.
‘The tutorial says the fastest way to accumulate $ANIMA tokens is to enjoy and be happy. I wonder-’ I skimmed through the collections, and true enough, they had what I was looking for- a comedy collection. I grinned devilishly.
I started picking up volumes and saw that my default token amount had decreased.
‘Of course, you have to pay, you idiot,’ I scolded myself. But I smiled at the thought of just reading and laughing all day.
I spent an entire week at Rikka’s antique slash book shop. I’ve read all the comedy volumes, moved on to romcoms, then endured the collections with dark humor.
After I was done with all the reading, I visited the mini gallery and found some really cool stuff to buy.
‘Oh, I really like this painting, would be a nice addition to my collection at home.’ I checked the price and almost choked at how expensive it was.
‘Seriously, was this a painting of Rubens or something? But it’s so pretty, hmmm. Oh, no way! Did I accumulate this much for a week?’ To my surprise, I had enough $ANIMA tokens to buy the piece that I liked. So I decided to pay for it and scored myself some unique items too.
My daily visit inside the metaverse engaging with fun activities has been amazing thus far. But, of course, I had met some odd avatars too. For example, there was this crazy guy who kept on praying for a legendary, and the crazier part was that other players went down on their knees to pray with him, only for his sister to be granted that super rare item. Hah, tough luck, but at least the little girl is happy.
Anyways, I was finally ready to get educated and then apply for a job. The music lounge in Neptune posed the last challenge to getting a musician degree. If I pass that, it’s a step closer to my ultimate goal.
“Oh, there’s piano tiles game here? Sweet!” I squealed as I ventured around Neptune Island. I was sure this game would be easy peasy for me. And just as I suspected, not even an hour in and I’ve passed everything up to the most complex level of the game.
Wandering through Neptune, I gained so many experiences relevant to music. I was finally ready to complete that last challenge.
The following day, I went to the Verses Hall and saw a few avatars waiting in line.
“Hey, what’s this line for?” I asked a guy in a dino suit.
“Oh, for the last challenge of music degree,” he answered, tail wagging as I nodded in understanding.
‘Just my luck then. Will I be able to ace this?’ I asked myself.
As I got closer to Saki’s NPC, the conversations got clearer.
“Hi, I would like to take the last challenge,” a girl in a battle gear outfit said to Saki.
“Wow, that’s great! Wait a moment while I check your data.” the NPC answered and checked her monitor. “Oh, unfortunately, your experience is not yet enough for this challenge. Come back again anytime!”
The girl shuffled away, so dejected that I felt like patting her on the back. A few minutes later and the guy in front of me joined her. It was quickly my turn, and I confidently walked up to the counter.
‘Ah, the musical prodigy,’ I sighed, admiring the NPC before me.
“Hi, I would like to take the last challenge,” I said.
“Wow, that’s great! Wait a moment while I check your data.” the NPC answered and checked her monitor. “When can you start?”
I smiled, “I can start now if you want me to,”
“Okay, then! There’s a grand piano at the center of the hall that you’ll be able to use. Go ahead and serenade us with your beautiful music.” She guided me towards the center stage.
I sat on the padded seat and drew a calming breath. The piano keys felt cool beneath my fingertips, eagerly waiting to sing my melody. The public chatter around me faded. At this moment, the piano was all that mattered.
As I played the first notes of my original music, memories of my childhood came rushing in.
“But I don’t want to sing.”
“Why not? You’ve got the best voice in our class. I’ll even play the piano for you,”
“But what if I mess up, people will laugh at me,”
“You won’t mess up if we practice well. Do this for me, please? Nothing will go wrong, I swear. I won’t leave you there. Just look at me when you feel nervous, yeah?”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, plus we’ll play my own music so people won’t be as critical, you know,”
“Well, if you say so, then maybe-”
“Come on. You won’t regret it. We might even win talent night.”
“I won’t go that far, but yeah, as long as you promise to stay beside me, then, I guess I can do it,”
“I’ll never leave your side, I promise!”
I still remember how she smiled at me that day. My first love, to whom I’ve dedicated this very song I am playing now.
I opened my eyes as the last notes resonated throughout the hall. Around me, the crowd of avatars cheered, “Encore! Encore!”
Then, an unimaginable thing happened.
By the Verses Hall’s entrance stood my old friend. The girl of my dreams, teary-eyed but beaming.
‘Odd for an NPC,’ I mused, unsure.
But then, the NPC walked towards me and said, “It’s been a long time, Bun.”
The world around me froze.
‘Bun? This was no NPC,’ the words from my heart caught up in my throat.
I stood up, held out my hand, and finally answered, “Yes, indeed. Been a while, Kumi-kumi.”