Jason closed his door quietly and stepped over to his chair until he stopped to pick the helmet. After he and Megan Reye had eaten and stuff, Jason spent time with his family, doing the usual and helping the twins with their schooling assignments. He picked the house up and spend a lot of time talking to Megan Reye. Now it was bedtime for Cory and Carrie, and Jason had retired to his room also, and was going to log back into the game for a quick trip.
He knew that it was very unlikely that Nox would be logged in, but it would provide Jason with the perfect time to practice his weapon skills. He laid back on his bed, letting the soft memory foam envelope him and he sighed as familiar warmth and firm, yet soothing, bedding adjusted to his shape.
Jason took a quick look at his watch, he wanted to time himself this time to see what the actual difference was. He put the helmet on, and laid his head back onto one of the pillows, then raised a hand and pressed the ‘Begin Wireless Transmission’ button, and he saw his computer’s lights flash on, then the helmet’s red tinted visor sprang to life almost in unison.
A new screen popped up on the browser, it was blank save for a few simple instructions. Say your username loudly and clearly, then wait for you character to accessed. Once this is done, you will be asked to complete the Iris Scan. Thank you. He scanned them quickly and spoke loud and clear as instructed. “Username: Avenged_Thief.” The screen stayed the same, and then it blinked and said: Thank you, your character has been located. The black screen he recognized from earlier popped up. Jason opened his eyes wide and focused on the white dot and ignored the voice that droned over his thoughts. The Iris scan will begin in 3..2…1… Thank you!
As soon as it was over, Jason blinked rapidly, then felt the rush of wind across his skin. This time, though, he kept his eyes wide open and saw the brilliant swirl of colors and defragmentation of particles around him. The colors were all maroon, green, black and white, swirling and sparking and mixing into colossal of no imagination Jason ever had, and then he was back at Nox’s cabin, lying on the couch, with the crackle of fire in his ears.
Jason pushed himself up and was surprised to find that he was full of energy, and his sores from earlier had long since been forgotten. He stretched around and laughed as he did some kind of martial art kick in the air before landing gracefully on both of his feet. Smiling and improvising he did a fancy back flip over the sofa and landed on his hands and feet, then pushed himself up in a great sweeping arc, then spun around and bowed to his imaginary audience in the empty room.
At the moment Jason felt so incredibly powerful, free, and energetic! As if he could fly, or climb the highest mountain. Adrenaline. That is what it was called. Jason had never felt it before, as all acts that would have caused it had been outlawed by the Unified Government long ago as to not give any of the people any belief in power of rebellion. Jason smiled to himself as he looked around the empty cabin hut thing.
He was now in a good mood, and wanted to find his weapons to practice when his eyes sought out a particular letter lying on the sofa where he had been sleeping earlier. He looked around to make sure no one was near before he picked it up and unfolded the quite curious note. It was from Wings-of-Eagles.
Avenged_Thief, I wanted to warn you that I’ ve had another offer on the quest to find and water The Pistachio tree, if you are serious about wanting to embark on it, I request that you act immediately . To find me, I will be next to the swordsman stall in the bazaar. There is a rather cozy looking hut with an awkward and unlevel two story structure and dome top. Knock on the door and If I am currently logged in I will answer the door. Thank you.
P.S., most people just call me Wings.
It appeared to be handwritten and Jason turned it over twice to make sure it was real and when he was certain it was, Jason raised both of his eyebrows in surprise and had to look around again to make sure he was alone at the moment. That was a very nice quest and it would suck if someone else got it instead of him. Jason had a split second to make a rash and very important decision, and he chose to go and claim it. No matter what Nox said, Jason knew that he was ready and he would do fine, even without his master’s guidance.
So Jason found his hand me down knapsack that he had been provided with the first time he had materialized and began looking for items to store in it. He first put his shortsword in and was surprised that the knapsack seemed to become bottomless and the sword fit easily inside of it, and it felt no heavier than it did when empty. Thank god for technology. He thought as he added a few apples, a pear, and a two pound pouch of cured meat to his pack. The fruits were his, but the meat was Nox’s, and Jason really did not care. I can pay him back later, he thought earnestly as he added some leather gloves and an old handheld shotgun he had bought earlier when he had been training.
He added an extra pair of cloths he found stacked next to the sofa and nodded as he was satisfied that that was all he needed. He put the knapsack on and walked to the door, and let it swing open and Jason let his half human, half elf form walk outside into the crisp air and he let his shoes crunch through the snow with a smile playing on his lips.
He was playing Genesis Alpha. He was playing the most famous Game ever and he was about to go on his first quest. Now the problem was where was the Bazaar? Jason looked around, trying to decide which path through the trenches of snow led to the bazaar. After a moment he chose the one in the middle. It seemed to head straight through the city, and usually the bazaar, or commonplace market, would be in the most populated and easy to access place. Well, let us just see how his theory worked out for him.
AS Jason walked down the path, he watched the sky as the clouds began to peel away and reveal a sight of two moons, both hovering next to a bright morning sun. Amazing! He thought as he stared at the sight and continued to walk down the path. After a while Jason thought he heard the talking of many people and smiled as he realized he must have chosen the right path.
He sped up, now jogging down the dirt trek, and was constantly swerving or jumping to avoid drifts of snow. After a while though, the path seemed to turn away from the voices, and as Jason followed it he noticed that the homes were becoming shabbier and the voices had long since dispersed, and within a few more strides, Jason found himself at the edge of the path as it opened up to the deluded and broken down ancient city.
He looked around him in surprise, the path did not lead him to the bazaar, although he was certain he had heard people talking, and instead here he was, out in the open, and lost in one of the most unforgiving and treacherous game lands ever. Common sense told him to simply turn around and head back down the path he had come down on, but that would be such a disappointment to have to go all the way back to the beginning. After all, he had only just passed the place where he heard people, and the path was very long. Already th sun was climbing in the sky, the morning turning into afternoon.
Jason shrugged and he let curiosity take over. If he was lucky he would find his way over to the bazaar, and if he was not, he would just head back the way he came and go back to Nox’s place, because he knew his way there at least. I should have gotten a map! Jason realized as he began to walk among the ruins. I could have just asked Nox earlier for one, or even looked harder in his house! Now that I think about it, I do remember seeing a map next to the fireplace hearth! Nox, or even Wings, must have left it for me!
He felt suddenly stupid and ignorant as he pushed his way past a half toppled over building that may have once been beautiful and elegant. Now the only elegance about it was the way it was perched between two other buildings, and the way debris would crumble from its walls and fall in an arc slowly and gracefully. But it was still just an old ugly building that was on the verge of collapsing. Jason continued to grumble to himself as he trudged through the snow. Then he stopped.
Behind him a soft crunching noise paused. Jason felt a chill go steadily up his back, and he held his breath as fear made his instincts go wicked sharp. He listened for a sound, any sound at all, and his eyes darted around trying to place something out of usual. Jason himself stood still, wanting to believe that whatever he had heard was just an echo and no one, nothing, was following him.
Of course that theory was also thrown to oblivion as there was another crunch in the snow, and the very faint, so faint that Jason in fact barely missed it, sound of someone breathing lightly. There was someone following him. And they were close. And they wanted him to attack. Jason swallowed and suddenly spun around, his hands whipping his knapsack open and he found the short sword and brandished it to his pursuer, just as Jason and Nox had practiced. Then Jason yelped and fell down backwards in surprise.
No, he did not do anything wrong, he was just surprised as he turned around and swung his sword right into the head of a pale and sickly looking zombie. After his blade had swiped the head clean off, Jason fell back in surprise, and as he scrabbled around in the snow, trying to get his thick gloved hands to uncover and grasp the hilt of his weapon, the zombie’s beheaded body crumpled to the ground with a sickening squelch as gasses became released through the cavity in the neck.
“Ugh!” Jason exclaimed and brought one gloved hand to cover his nose. The gasses stank, and stank bad. They polluted the air and were released from the corpse in a steam that melted the snow around it. Jason finally found his weapon and grasped it close to him with his left hand. He held it before him as he rose to his feet. Jason removed his hand from his nose and gripped the short sword with both hands now, he began to notice the lengthening absence of the smell, that had ceased and in its place the body began to glow a faint blue all over. And, finally, after only a minute or two of Jason having killed it, the body’s light faded and it began to break down, then it vanished and was gone completely.
Jason looked around to make sure there were no more Zombies near him, before he slackened his grip and let out a deep breath. “Weird.” He muttered and kicked some snow on the bare patch of ground that was left after the corpse had gone. “Oh well, at least it is gone now.” Jason shrugged and stashed his sword on his belt loop on the left hand side. If there were Zombies out here, Jason did not want to be caught unguarded. He then looked around, sighing and started to head back to Nox’s house. He was tired and lost, and if he could get back to Nox’s house, he could get the map or log off.
It was then, quite suddenly, that Jason heard a scream rattle through the deserted city. But it was not just any scream, it was the scream of a girl in mortal peril. Jason reacted immediately, despite the fact that the idea that other people might be out here with him had not occurred to him. Jason started to run and he unsheathed his sword as he approached the place where the voice had come from. “Hold on!” he shouted, wanting to reassure the victim of whatever it was, whether it be a zombie, or something much much worse.
Jason stepped down some stair that lead downward into what he assumed had been an arena, and below him, on a platform and fighting furiously was a girl. Surrounding her was not zombies, as Jason had been expecting, but was a man like figure brandishing a sword and hacking away at her.
The girl was hidden mostly from Jason’s view by her assailant, a tall and very strange looking elf. He was tall as any other elf Jason had encountered was, but his skin was dark, and not a tanned dark, a grayish dark, as if he stayed out of the sun as much as possible. And his hair was a very fair blonde hair, it actually looked white. Jason shivered slightly as he got a cold feeling vibe from the elf and Jason shouted “Hey!” to distract him.
The elf turned around and shocked Jason as he observed his eyes, which had turned from a golden brown color to a bright red. The elf tilted his head and laughed as he scanned Jason holding his weapon defensively and noticeably. “Who are you?” he snuffed and he twisted his blade expertly. Jason saw the glimmer of its newness and noted the expensive looking hilt and fancy design. He felt very crude and stupid next to him, but Jason straightened his back and twisted his trusted weapon nonetheless.
“My name is Avenged_Thief, and prepare to get your ass whopped for terrorizing that girl.” He gestured with his chin to the girl that, still hidden from his view, was edging off the stage. The elf looked surprised at the mention of Jason’s name, and Jason had little time to wonder why before his opponent moved into a sparring position in front of Jason. His red eyes had shifted from their uncertain nature and held the gleam of challenge as Jason threatened him.
“Is that so? Well, Mr. Avenged_Thief, I will just have to teach you how hard it is to whoop my ass.” At that he lurched forward, his hands tight on the hilt as he raised it above his head in a sweeping, chopping arc. Jason had to duck, and he could hear the whisp and crack of air as the fine weapon seemed to slice it. Jason sucked in a breath and rolled on the ground, as he jumped up his attack was blocked with a force so hard that it made Jason’s arms shake and flakes of snow fell from his clothes and his eyes opened wildly.
His opponent laughed louder and raised an eyebrow as he broke the contact. Jason charged him and he slid to the side and kicked Jason as he rushed by, making Jason fall to the ground, his short sword flying from his hands, Jason landed in a slight daze. He suddenly felt himself grow weaker, and a lack of both health and stamina started to sink in.
Jason watched it all in a blur as the opponent jumped in the air to land next to Jason. He slashed the ultra thin blade across Jason’s right arm. It split open the layer clothing and sliced into his skin. Jason yelped in pain and gripped his arm as he tried to move away and get to his sword. He did not think it would make much of a difference, but he felt more secure around the weapon.
His assailant noticed what Jason was trying to do and stepped in front of Jason, making the half elf, half human look up at the full elf, whom Jason now assumed was either very near or completely at 100% Evil. The elf kicked snow in Jason’s face. “That was for getting too full of yourself.” Then he swiped his sword over the back of Jason’s shoulder blades, making him scream out in pain, and he actually felt the skin tear and the steam as his blood became exposed to the frigid, freezing air.
Cold stinging shock swept over him, and Jason fell to his side, and the elf bent closer, breathing on his face. “And that was for ruining my prey. I am only doing my job, newbie, so stop trying to be the hero. It never works out. Oh, and thanks for the experience points. I just do love gaining them by killing you new players.” He laughed and Jason’s vision quickly faded to black, and the last thing he was able to interpret from the game was the pain in his back, and the elf standing up and walking away, the crunching noise of his feet slowly becoming fainter… and fainter… before it was gone. And Jason was alone.