The rain. It all goes back to the rain. Just follow the water streaming back to the source of it all, pooling, and you'll find me hunched, glaring into a blank monitor, oblivious to the rabbit's hole I'm walking into. If I'd known then what I know now...
Take me somewhere dry, shield carrier, and I will attempt sleep. And only if you are vigilant.
I will be.
I help Jess up. She is suffering from far worse than sleep deprivation, I remind myself.
I check my phone, the text message: "Nothing new here, boss." It is from a demon the size of house cat whose name would take more pages than I have here to type up using our characters, and so I refer to him now to you with his preferred moniker, "O Pityful One," or O.p.o..
I text back, tap out the words: "I'm taking her highness to get some shuteye, man." He texts back: "swaw," an abbreviation that in our little world means, "The shadowlords watch and wait," something to remember. This is just our version of the colloquialism often exchanged by athletes during the final seconds of the big game, when teams are head to head and no clear winner in sight but the end is nigh, a pretty good description of our current crisis. I text back: "swaw."
More on O.p.o. later. A preview: he has thirty-eight Ph.D.s, which I think is excessive.
The rain. I played Optima Online for almost a year straight--September of 97 'til September of 98. And the rain ended it all.
I ran three characters: a sorcerer or "tank mage" who could wield a polearm as skillfully as he could throw fireballs and flash bolts of lightning; a crafter who could smith, mine, tailor up some socks, and brew potions (poisons and explosives were my specialty); and finally, a rogue who wore a coxcomb motley, a little thief named "Gadfly," who haunted town like a mosquito and harassed and stole what scraps he could.
My friends who introduced me to the game played too, but they didn't let O.O. grip them the way it did me. I was unique.
Some history. I started in September and by October I was a member of "Santcum Xlite Brotherhood," the guild with the stupidest name. To this day I have no idea what our guildmaster and founder, Jez, had meant by the word "XLite." Extra-light? I don't know. Oh well. By November I was a recruiter for the guild; by December I was writing the e-newsletter; by January I was second-in-command; and by February, I was inaugurated Guildmaster of the "Sanctum XLite" after Jez quit and cancelled his account due to the sad fact that it was hacked (a trojan) and he lost all of his gold and rare items (regarding the name: we dropped the "Brotherhood" part, with apologies, to the girls who later joined, who actually came to outnumber us "brothers").
Fast forward: March, then April, then May, a golden age in the brief history of "Sanctum XLite." Then June, then July, then August, then Hurricane.
I am in the basement of my house, where my room is located, and I am waist deep in black water and my tower, my precious tower--my gateway to Optima Online--has been carried by floodwaters to the place computers go when they die. To keep from crying, I cursed.
I had spent two summer's wage's bagging groceries in order to buy that computer. No replacement was in sight. Effectively, my reign as Guildmaster of the "Sanctum XLite" (God, such an awful name) was over.