“Oh come on! Really?” I slammed my headset down on the desk and pushed myself back away from the desk.
“Ashe, you suck.
“Lux, wtf were you doing?”
“Ah, this game is trash,” I muttered. “Why do I always get matched with shitty teammates?” I slammed my forehead down on the edge of my desk as I resigned myself to another season of being hard-stuck gold. I alt-f4 and sighed as the rage slowly bubbled within me.
A shiver shimmied up my spine as a cold wind roared in through the open windows, and fluttered past the sun-beaten curtains. With a hard shove, I pushed myself away from the glow of the computer screen and stomped my way across the tan-tiled floor to the window. The cold wind blasted me in the face and chilled the sweat built up on my scalp.
The multi-colored twinkle of newly mounted stringed Christmas lights on the roof just beyond the rotted wooden fence of my backyard, and the frost overtaking the green grass...winter was here. Another season hard stuck in my life. I welcome the coming season with a sigh of resignation. What’s wrong with me? It was as if I was stuck in a tar pit unable to move forward in life. When did it start? Why was I still here, living with my parents at the age of 30?
A drop of cold rain fell on the tip of my nose, and soon a downpour tap-danced across the terracotta shingles above me. I slid the window shut. In the dark glass, I caught sight of myself in the darkened glass and sighed. My auburn hair was as thin as mist, showing the pale skin of my scalp, and my neck bulged like a croaking frog’s from the fat. Dark circles that had become a permanent feature as of late, hung underneath my pale blue eyes over which my bifocals sat, and my mouth was slightly agape; revealing my missing tooth that had cracked due to an untreated gum condition last spring. I tore my eyes away from the ugly reflection and pulled the curtain shut. I push my tongue through the gap; the bitter taste of rotting calcium as the root began to poke its way painfully through my still swollen gums washing over it. Shit. Where did everything go wrong? Shit.
I pick up one of the notebooks; filled with half-written stories, and drawings that will never know completion, and tear them to pieces in a fit of momentary rage before tossing it into the wall. I sighed. Impotent rage. Was that all I was capable of now? I turned away from the window, and another shiver ran up my spine. What? Was there a crack in it or something? I pulled open the curtains a little and examined the window; trying my damnedest to avoid looking at my reflection. A pair of lights flashed in and out of existence as if two bright eyes were peeking over my left shoulder through the darkness of my room. A wave of panic shot through me as I quickly glanced to the side, and breathed a sigh of relief.
Nothing was there, however, aside from a bit of white on the blackness of my computer screen. I picked up my glasses from the top of the shelf and slid them over my nose before sitting back down on my chair and pulling myself up to the desk.
In letters that shimmered and moved like bright white smoke read the following sentence:
“If you had the choice would you fight for the safety and freedom of your world?”
Two choices sat at the bottom of this question. As the cursor moved, the background rippled like dark waters being stirred. Was this a game? Perhaps I accidentally launched one after I exited League. I had downloaded a few off the Bay just the night before…I clicked yes.
The screen goes black for a second, yet my reflection doesn’t show within the oddly deep glass. The smoke reformed and morphed into a new set of sentences.
“Would you fight with magic, with sword, or with your wits?”
I moved the mouse again. The ripples spread beneath the words, and they bobbed up and down like string over water. I clicked magic. I always play a magic class.
Once again, the screen goes dark, and white letters once again write themselves out on my screen.
“Roki, the Conqueror of Efra; the Wandering God of War, has set his eyes on Earth.” I pressed esc trying to skip, and nothing happened. Ah, was this one of those really bad consoles to PC ports? I never really paid attention to lore in games like this, and I wasn’t just about to start. “He is mustering his forces for an invasion that will begin in 24 hours.”
I sighed and leaned back in my chair as I watched more text scroll out.
“We the Gods, Heroes, and Folk Spirits of the world have found potential within you, Lawrence Able.”
I snapped back to reality, leaning forward; nearly pressing my nose against the screen as I Re-read that last part of the sentence. My name? Why did it have my name? Shit. A keylogger? A trojan? Alt-f4, alt-f4 alt-f4 alt...power button, power button, power button...nothing? Fuck it. Worst comes to worst and I’ll just do a factory reset of my computer. I lean back and let my doom play out.
“It will be dangerous. You will suffer greatly, and you could very well lose your life. Knowing this, would you still fight?”
I leaned forward once more and reached for my mouse. My movement is slowed by a...something around me. Like some invisible twine wrapping around my body and holding onto me. With some difficulty, I move the mouse to, ‘yes,’ and click it. The sensation worsens, and I feel as if I am submerged up to my chin in deep water.
“To assist you, we have decided to grant you the knowledge of any three skills to start you off with.”
Once I had finished reading a skill page, like those found in ARPGS laid itself out over the screen. There must have been thousands. What kind of crazy game was this? I scroll. Necromancy? No. While I like the idea of summoning things to do the fighting for me, I’d much rather have something less...creepy do it. How about elemental? I scroll to the ‘elemental magic,’ section of the skill tree, skipping by several. Crafting skills like Alchemy, and Enchanting flash by. I make a note of that: it’s always good to have something like that in the future. For now, however, I’ll need to be able to do damage.
As if responding to my search, Elemental Magic snapped into focus. There were five schools laid out under this section: Fire, Earth, Water, and Air, and another one I had never seen called Aether. Several spells seemed to interconnect with one another: fire and wind shared a whole branch called, ‘djinn invocation,’ while fire and earth shared a section called, “Surt’s Domain.” None of those were available, however. I had to start at the very top of each individual tree if I wanted to get there. The first in fire was, ‘ember.’
“The blood of the Salamanders run as hot as ash.” Read the description when I hovered over it.
I chose it. Fire always had the greatest damage output at the beginning of any game, after all. Next, I’d need something to keep enemies at bay. A rooting spell of some sort. Keeping in theme with the Elementalist build I was aiming for in the long run, I found, “ensnare,” as the second choice in the Earth tree. The first choice was, ‘rock throw,’ I suppose another damage-dealing spell wouldn’t hurt. I click it and move down to the next one.
[Must be level 6 to Unlock] Came a warning.
I clicked my tongue and looked at the others. At the very top of the Aether tree was the spell, “Repel.”
“That which binds can become that which repels.”
It had the icon of something bouncing off a barrier. I suppose it would work. Damage mitigation is important. Perhaps, in the future, I’ll expand to include some healing, but for now, this build will do.
Once I had made my last choice, the screen changed:
“Are you satisfied with your choice of skills?”
I clicked, ‘Yes.’
The feeling of being submerged deepened. Was I running a fever?
“As a thank you. We the Gods, heroes, and folk spirits of the earth would like to grant you a single miracle. It could be anything you think of. Please note, that by accepting this there is no going back.”
Huh? I wonder how far the devs would go to make that, ‘wish,’ true in the game. It would make for some pretty broken stuff. I lean back, and once again run my tongue through the gap where my front tooth had been.
“I wish for a brand new set of indestructible teeth,” I speak out loud as a joke to myself.
“If that is your wish, it will be done.”
I fall face-first onto the ground; discarded beer cans rattle around as immense pressure builds up in my gums and bursts out in sticky, bloody flows. Copper rushed down my throat as one of my cavity-infested teeth fell out of my mouth and landed on the ground in a bloody pile. Followed by another, and another. The overwhelming pain flashes through my mind a bright white, followed by a deep, dark sleep.