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Green rings flash around a mysterious figure, marking his first time in the [GAME]. The flashings subside, and he looked around in shock. He managed to mutter aloud, “What?” before falling backwards. This was unfortunate, because at that moment, he had spawned on the top of an abnormally steep hill.
At the foot of the hill, the man landed on his face, getting quite a lot of rubble smashed on top of him. After a bit of struggling and yelling, he got the largest of the rocks off him. He looked around in amazement, viewing grassy green hills with flowers and wild animals scattered about. He said to himself, “I don’t think we’re in New York anymore…”
The creatures he saw were different from normal animals. Scurrying through the grass was tiny Sphinxes and Chimaeras, and even a miniature hydra or two. Flying up in the air were penguins with swords, and farther away were some creatures that looked oddly like dragons. The man even saw a lake in the distance, unknowingly filled with Kelpies and Selkies, and Merrows.
While the man walked around, he was unaware of a fast approaching presence. If he had payed attention, he would have noticed snapping of twigs and the flashes of armor. But when he had entered the [GAME], he lost all track of reasoning. This could lead to his being attacked, and eventually did.
A man burst forth from the tall grass and yelled, “Die, you son of a goat-herder!” The man already had a sword out, ready to cleave the new warrior in two. The first man raised his arms in a pitiful defense, knowing that he was going to die, as the second man sprinted towards him too fast to dodge.
But fortunately, the second man tripped on as loose root sticking up from the earth, and just as suddenly as he arrived, he was face-first on the ground.
Although the first man knew this guy would most likely keep trying to kill him, he felt sorry for him and wanted to help. He offered the man his hand to help him up.
“Thank you, my good man.” The second one spoke as he rose up off the ground. “You certainly are skilled to have dodged my- umm- super awesome tripping explosion of epicness attack. I, Auric Primum, applaud ye. What is the name of the warrior who so elegantly defeated me?”
The first man looked at him and was quiet for a moment, but then began to laugh. He could not stop himself. Although he was confused and shocked, this Auric fellow still managed to act in such an insane and gleeful manner, it elated him to no end.
Auric misinterpreted the man’s laughter for that of a mocking one. He drew out his sword and spoke in an angered tone, “See here mystery man. If you do not cease with your rude use of the guffaw, I shall have to attack once more!”
After a minute, the man finally stopped laughing, and turned towards Auric. As he wiped under his eye in a symbolic sort of way, he sighed happily. He said, “Be calm my friend. It is just that this is my first time in the [GAME], and you seem unlike the type that would be accepted as a beta tester, like me. To answer your question, I am Satroes Quintus, the mage. It is an honor to make your acquaintance.”
The two shook hands and were laughing at their foolishness, when Satroes suddenly stopped.
“What is wrong Satroes? Some mutton not settling well?” Auric pondered, already rummaging in his traveling pouch for medicine.
Satroes turned back towards the amazing view in front of them and asked, “What is this place we’re in? Is this truly the [GAME]? I thought it to be a simple game, for which I would have been a fine price for being a beta tester. And for that matter, how did you get here, for I did not see any Auric in the tester file. Neither in Alpha, nor Beta.”
Auric laughed and then just as suddenly he was serious. He spoke quickly and earnestly.
“If you’re that new here, then you must not have heard the reports…”
Satroes could tell that Auric could barely contain a saddened sigh as he sat down on the grass and patted a spot in front of him.
“You might want to sit down for this, my newly found friend. It will come as a bit of a shock.” He said, with all lightheartedness in his tone now gone.
As Satroes sat in front of Auric, so began the tale of not only how they got where they were, but also how possibly over a hundred other people were stuck there as well.
It all started with the advancement in gaming technology. With motion sensors and 3D visuals, it was surprising that people had not thought of it sooner. A gaming company known as GX rose up with new plans for advanced integrated gaming capabilities.
Satroes stopped Auric then with a questioning glance and a confused, “Advanced what? I don’t speak gamer; I just signed up to test this for the payroll.’
“Sorry,” Auric said, chuckling slightly, “Uh- how do I put this…? Well, GX pretty much created a way to get the gamer into the game he or she was playing. Of course no one could hurt you in the games- that would have cost us too many lawsuits. But going onwards-“
“Hold on.” Satroes piped in once again at this moment. “You just said us. Are you part of GX?”
Auric suddenly took an immense interest in a blade of grass he was turning betwixt his fingers, humming a tune as if he had not heard.
Satroes spoke louder, “Auric, are you telling me that you and this company made me test this game where you are actually in it?!”
Auric turned away from Satroes like a young child just caught thieving. He mumbled apologies and then raised his voice slightly to say, “You did agree to the terms of service…”
“Nobody reads those things!” Satroes yelled, finally getting to his feet, with his face red with frustration.
Auric slumped over and spoke in a sad tone, “I know, but it wasn’t my fault, I was just in charge of making the monsters here.”
But Satroes refused to listen to Auric at the moment. He walked off, in the direction of a faraway forest. Auric followed after him, and as Satroes grew calmer, he began to grin. Eventually, he turned back to Auric and clapped him on the back. He said in a now cheery tone as he walked, “Well this is not all bad. Although I do not play games as much as some other people I know, this seems like a pleasant venture. I know! I’ll tell my friends about the [GAME] so we may all adventure together.”
He turned to Auric and asked, “How do I get out of the [GAME] Auric?”
Auric stopped smiling and started fumbling about with some explanation.
“Well- um- you see- I don’t really…” With this Auric started mumbling apologies once again, and it finally dawned upon Satroes why he seemed so sad.
He couldn’t believe what he was about to ask. It defied what was right in the world. But he knew he had to ask the one question keeping him from a normal life from then on out.
“We can’t leave the [GAME], can we?”
Auric looked downward and spoke up finally, in a way lost of all hope, “No. But that’s not even the half of it.”
Satroes felt like weeping of how he would most likely never see his family again. But then he registered all of what Auric had said. And he reached his breaking point.
“What do you mean worse? What could be worse than being trapped in a video game, never to see friends and family ever again?!” Satroes knew he was yelling, and he had no right to treat Auric in that manner, but for the moment he did not care. He had lost everything, all because he had wanted to make a bit more money and losing his job at the pawn shop. Because of a bit of money, he had lost all contact with everyone he had ever known. He wanted to know what Auric thought was so bad it was worse than losing everything he had ever owned or loved.
Auric looked straight at him, suddenly showing a more serious side than he had shown before. He shook his head, and looked off in the distance toward a dark mountain range, watching the now setting sun.
He spoke with earnest and a calm Satroes never knew anyone could express.
“Someone outside the [GAME] has set up a special system. With this technology, they initiated the reality code. From then on out- everything that happened in here actually hurt the player. I had to enter the [GAME] after the death count reached the double-digits. Whoever took control of the [GAME] left enough of a residual information trail that I could track them to the [GAME]. Whoever is killing off players- is in here as well. And most likely, they are going to kill us all.”
Satroes fell to his knees, releasing a gasp as he fell. He had thought there was nothing they could take from him left, but apparently someone also wanted to take his life, to end this horrible day of mistakes.
“What are we gonna do?”
Satroes could barely understand the words as they escaped from his lips. He turned to Auric, who was still looked to the setting sun, and asked again, “What can we do Auric?!”
Auric kept where he was and spoke for the last time that day. Satroes kept asking for advice, but Auric would not have any of that. And as Satroes lay wide awake in the pitch black darkness, listening to the sounds of the creatures that were created by a man not teen feet from him, he reflected on Auric’s words of sentiment earlier.
Auric had said, “I hope you’re a prayin’ man, because we could use all the help we could get. Thing are only going to get worse from here on out, and we most likely won’t live to see the next setting of the sun.”