Chapter 2: The Murderer's Penalty

Perspective: Jordan "Jordan666" McKay

My alias is tinted red. It evokes fear as I step into town. The newbies scatter, heh. Cowards. I'm not even wearing anything. And neither is my character. Because if anyone disposes of me while I've got this 10 hours of murderer status, I'll lose my equipment, and more cash than usual.

However, I am carrying a torch in my hand. It's nighttime in the game. Almost midnight. Almost pitch-black, and I don't want to squint to see where I'm going.

With the money Eric dropped, I now have enough to buy a new staff. However, the shopkeepers are ignoring me, courtesy of my blood-red name. I'm tempted to hide my character in some obscure corner of the world, and leave the game running all night so that the ten hours will elapse quickly.

It's midnight now. All goes black.

Fireballs hit the rabbits that I catch running across the farmland outside of town. I really wish they would implement some shopkeepers shady enough to deal with murdererous players.

Arch says: "who you kill jordan???"

He can see me, but I can't see him. That's what I get for holding a torch. I drag its icon back into my inventory, and the light blinks out. Realizing how vulnerable I am now that I can't spot people coming, I move behind the farmhouse, trying to hide in some bushes.

A lantern shows up in Arch's hand. He's on the other side of the farmhouse, casting tree shadows across the road. The lanterns are expensive. Too expensive. I'm intimidated, and I don't recognize the armour he's wearing.

I CTRL+click on him, and he's hidden his level.

Arch says: "no need to hide from me i wont bite"

At the corner of my screen, I spot a fast-moving dim light, assumably from another player, one on horseback. Darn it, how do they afford a pony deed... and a lantern?

Jordan666 says: "who wus that"

Arch says: "who was what?"

Jordan666 says: "i saw a light pass us man"

Jordan666 says: "moving dam fast"

princess91 says: "wasnt me"

I knew it wasn't her. She was still level 6, and for some stupid reason still killing rabbits for fur. I could hear the dampened sound effects of her distant hunting. She was eavesdropping, and perhaps the person on horseback was too. I decide to take it to private messages.

Jordan666 tells Arch: "u got a horse??"

Arch says: "lol a horse? wtf no!!!1"

Jordan666 tells Arch: "know any buddy who does?"

Arch tells Jordan666: "dzisiak, plymouth, felicia, mebbe mandy"

Jordan666 says: "who the fck is mandy?"

Arch says: "mandark"

Arch says: "can i buy u something from teh shops"

Jordan666 says: "hell yes thx man"

Arch says: "wut can i get u 15cc fine"

Jordan666 says: "10cc"

Arch says: "fine"

Plymouth has logged in.

Jordan666 says: "glazed mahogany staff 9sc 43cc"

He knew better than to take nine silver coins and forty-three copper from me. His reputation would drop, I'd make a scene of it on the website forums. We did the trade of 954 coins, and he walked into the carver's shop and did the interaction for me.

And Plymouth logging in was an alert from my user list. He was the server host. We'd gone to middle school together, though now we were in high school.

Jordan666 says: "thanx man u rock"

Plymouth tells Jordan666: "heyy man"

Arch says: "no problem dude"

Arch says: "where u off 2?"

Jordan666 tells Arch: "cant say its a secret"

Jordan666 tells Plymouth: "do you know where the subterrane is? i want x y"

Plymouth tells Jordan666: "i have no idea man"

Arch tells Jordan666: "can i cum"

Jordan666 says: "only if u tell me where u got that armor"

Jordan666 says: "ive never seen it"

Plymouth tells Jordan666: "ill ask eric hes coming over l8r 2night"

Arch tells Jordan666: "ill tell u when we get there k?"

Jordan666 says: "mmmk"

Jordan666 tells Plymouth: "dont tell him i asked cuz i just killed the fag"

Princess91 starts following Arch as I lead him out of town, in the direction of a new dungeon I found. We'd been playing this game for years, but it had reinvented itself. Lynn and Eric were remaking the old material, and re-arranging things. It drove me crazy.

In Grade 8, Eric had discovered the game's website, when it was still run by some guy in Sweden. He stopped playing Runescape rather abruptly, and so did Lynn. But they waited over a month before telling Jonathan and I about it - fearing we'd outlevel them no doubt.

In Grade 9, the game's developers gave up on it, after a period of letting some American run it. Then, it was offline for over a year before it had returned in the form of custom servers, with the editing functionality released to the public. Then it had been sold to my friend Jonathan, the user known as "Plymouth". And with the source code of the project, the ability to alter the game's programming, we were slowly winning a war of popularity against the custom servers.

I wish they'd just shut the custom servers down. It's inevitable that we'll overtake them. Unfortunately, they've been running a year longer than we have, and so they have a year's worth more content.

The game had always been far from finished, or balanced for that matter, so I had no idea why they were remaking content. That put us further behind, did it not? But I had to admit, the community had been exposed too many times to the old content. And once in a while, pieces of the old dungeons or quests would appear in refreshing new ways, in places and perspectives I hadn't seen them in before.

But to be honest, I was jealous. I was Jonathan's real right-hand man. If I had the talent, I'd help. But I didn't. And I was too addicted to the fray of gaming. Instead, I was his eyes and ears. And I knew a rebellion stirring when I heard one.

We'd been walking for five minutes, chatting about nothing. And by that, I mean that we didn't exchange a single word. He had probably minimized the game, or taken it off fullscreen, so that he could browse the internet or use an instant messenger while his character automatically followed mine.

Princess91 had been following us, an unwanted caboose, but I was kind enough to walk close enough to an alligator that she ran off after the first bite nearly killed her.

We passed two herds of antelopes, and I checked my map. There was a forest glade ahead, where a brown reptile was watching us. In my mind, that was a landmark. But I had only been there once, and hadn't written down the x and y co-ordinates of the dungeon's location.

I equipped my old staff, not my new one. I didn't want to risk losing it if I got killed by another player.

Arch says: "whyve we stopped jordan"

Jordan666 says: "only been there once"

Jordan666 says: "its where i got money for my staff"

Jordan666 says: "we could be ridin horses by nights end"

Of course, I meant real-world night, not the game's night which passed much faster. It was already nearing dusk, and things weren't so pitch-black. I wasn't even wasting away my torch. And Arch had put out his torch, instead holding a shield in his left hand. It, too, I did not recognize. Its craftsmanship was unlike anything sold in town. If there was wizard's robes of a similar make, I'd be dying to get my hands on them soon enough.

Arch says: "r u lost man??? i wanna kill something"

He went over and started bashing his axe against the barkskin lizard. It was only level 23, so he made quick work of it.

I typed in '/tcreate hawks'.

You created a troupe, hawks.

Jordan666 says: "join hawks"

A Barkskin Lizard has been killed.

Arch joined your troupe, hawks.

That would give us shared experience points, and a 25% bonus for each additional member after the first. However, he hadn't joined in time for me to get any experience from his recent kill.

Arch picked up a Tiny Piece of Barkskin.

His gloves were brown. The same brown.

Jordan666 (TROUPE): "barkskin gloves eh?"

Arch says: ":-) u know it"

Arch (TROUPE): "spiked ones... used pliers 2 pull warg teeth off troll club"

Arch says: "r u lost?"

Jordan666 (TROUPE): "no"

I had lied. And as I had done so, I cursed Eric's name. Then I kept walking, unaware of princess91 following us in the distance, the view blocked by the trees of the glade that Arch had walked into.

Then, ahead of us, the fast-paced light moved.

Arch (TROUPE): "weve got company!!!"

I unequipped my staff, wary of Niveus. The last thing I needed right now was Eric on horseback shooting glacial orbs at me.

Unknown says: "Hah hah hah!"

Jordan666 (TROUPE): "o.O who said that?"

Arch (TROUPE): "nobody on my user list"

Jordan666 (TROUPE): "damn same here"

I typed in '/me gives the stranger the finger', as we kept moving toward where I was relatively sure I'd found the dungeon.

Jordan666 gives the stranger the finger

Arch (TROUPE): "LOL"

A horse, standing alone in the field, came into view. Clearly, the rider had dismounted and walked away. I had no idea why, but it was probably because a dungeon was nearby. I noticed the wildflowers in the grass, and this confirmed my intuition that we were close to our destination.

The End

15 comments about this story Feed