Sunday May 17'th 2020 // KoG Bastion // 18:31
It had been as every other day had been on Our World for the Heavy Blade, gamer extraordinaire, KoG Bastion. Grinding in the deepest, darkest, and most perilous dungeons with a group of other KoGs, Knights of God. An loosely grounded organization, an unofficial clan that pride themselves in one thing and one thing alone. Mastering the game. This world, besides its obvious innovative, revolutionary settings and all-immersive world, also championed itself as difficult enough to never not pose a challenge to a player. There was always something new to explore, a new behemoth monster that rose out of depths of the digital abyss to bid destruction to wouldbe dungeon dwellers, and there would always be a reward, a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, for all those that could accomplish the great feat of toppling these giants. The KoGs purpose, their essence of being, was mastering a game that bolstered that it could not be mastered. In years past, in other games that have waned in popularity since the creation of Our World, there were other "professional gamers"; however, there was a certain element to the KoGs that made them different. A mix between being a close-knit family and an organization of employees. A balance between efficient teamwork and independent solace where egos could shine but not choke out one-another. A sort of formula that had both a hyper competitive flavor with a dash of fun-loving and even roleplaying. In the group, there were those that knew each other, teamed up and faced the fears and terrors together; then you had those who, aside from the KoG prefix, had little connections and chose to delve deeper into the rabbit hole alone, to stem the tide alone.
KoG Bastion grinned under his heavy rust-orange helm and gripped Mighty Sol with both of his large hands, metal gauntlets making a wrenching noise as he did. In front of him, one of the aforementioned behemoths this game offered as a trump card to those who pushed themselves to the limit. The room itself, an extraordinarily spacious and ominous underground structural beauty, entirely made of moss-covered stone bricks fashioned in a massive circular room with many archaic columns and a particular terrifying hole right in the center, was particular breath taking. Whoever made this certainly understood that less was indeed more. From the abyssal hole in the center of the room, the giant foe resembling something of a centipede from hell swayed and cried out, shaking the room. Its thick, natural exoskeleton armor looked as if it could resist the mightiest blow while its enormous and terrifying pincers ran back and forth over one another, like a chef sharpening its knifes before laying into a slab of meat. The numerous, pointed legs clicked wildly, wriggling wildly as the centipede beast swayed. It screeched, high-pitched and ear-splitting, shaking the room and bringing dust and some debris from the ceiling. Bastion had spent the last two hours working his way deeper into the pits of this particular dungeon, and this boss had been the last thing to stand in his way from finally completing it. After he conquered the bug, he would move on to the next dungeon... And then another... Then another...
"And on this day, let it be known that Bastion of the Knights of God, slayer of beasts and protector of the meek and mild, conquered the beast and let it slink quietly into the darkness from whence it came! Let it be known that I-Oh dear..." The centipede was no respecter of men nor of their attempts to make victory speeches. It lashed out at the pre-triumphant Bastion, attempting to use its body, its sheer impressive mass, as a weapon of massive destruction. A slow progression at first, the titan body of the armored beast came down like a tower, building speed towards the much smaller target, "You think me a weakling?" Bastion called up with a great brass, taking a battle stance instead of trying to flee from the area where the centipede might land. As the screeching rival hurled itself ever towards the Heavy Blade, the confident grin did not leave his mouth... A small bleep made itself noticed and a tiny envelope avatar appeared in the air, "Not now," Bastion muttered as he brought Great Sol over his head, it generating a deep-orange aura that resembled a magical flame in its wake. With a roar of his own, Bastion's Heavy Blade and the centipede met, a cloud of gray-brown dust filled the air around the area of impact, stirred up by the disturbance. When the dust settled, the centipede was just vanishing into the white digital hexagons of data. Bastion's experience bar inched up and up from the boss. It had been a hard earned victory with plenty of sweat and lots of time invested. Mighty Sol went over Bastion's shoulder as he made his way forward slowly, realizing now only how closely he had been to dying. It was luck that had saved him. Had he missed or swung a moment too soon and missed or a moment too late and been hit first, it would have been game over. The treasure chest was ivory white with a golden design about it, a ruby jewel on the very front locked the chest in place. The end of one long journey... The envelope still hung in the corner of the screen... "The start of another one..." Bastion mumbled to himself and opened the Flash Mail with a click.
"Now that is a pleasant surprise," The deep voice of the tank echoed in the circular, stone room and, in that moment, Bastion realized something about his gaming career that he had several times before. Simply, he had always worked alone. It was not that he had an attitude or did not play well with others, but he worked at one speed. His. If someone could not keep up, which was the case a majority of the time, then why have them along to slow him down? He was not a support role, he was not an Archer or Wavemaster that needed constant babysitting and damage sponging, and he was not a gimmicky Twin Blade that relied on others to distract or hoped that the attacker would miss nine of out of ten times. Bastion was a Heavy Blade. A self-reliant class that could tank the most damage out of all the classes as well as dish it out one-on-one or five-on-one. With adequate skill and the proper amount of items, a Heavy Blade could indeed be a one-man army and, as Bastion proved time and again, sweep an entire dungeon by itself. However, this would be an opportunity to meet others at relatively high levels and, ideally, high standards of gameplay. Our World was... Different in the way of moderation compared to other games. Whereas many games were choked with bureaucracy and smothered in self-inflating egos, Our World presented a certain decentralization aspect where moderators were simply there to help. By leaving it up to the players to do most of the watch-dogging, while keeping the mods busy with all the problems sure to be reported... It was a strange and eccentric system set up by a strange and eccentric Administrator... And it worked.TO: KoG Bastion
TEXT: KoG Bastion, you among many, have been selected to move onto our Second Phase of filling spots for our next wave of Moderators. You will be put into a large group with a Mod guiding you along, showing you the inner workings of my beloved creation, Our World. The Mod who is assigned to you will meet you and the others at the following Area: Delta: Hidden Forbidden Holy Ground. You will take your mod's word as my own. The ones I take on are seen as an extension of myself and should treat all players as equals. Those who abuse their power will be banned permanently. While I ask my applicants to have basic hacking knowledge, I will still provide my own hacking methods for you own online disposal. Passing this Phase and becoming a Mod will give you many advantages and disadvantages. My eyes will be on you carefully, watching and waiting for something. What that is for me to see, is up to you. Thank you for your interest in helping others and good luck. - Nelwa
Back in front of Bastion still lay the elegantly designed ivory chest. He tapped it with Mighty Sol and-Boom!
"Damn!" Ren through her arms into the air as KoG Bastion collapsed, the last sliver of his life taken away by the trapped chest, "I forgot to heal! Argggh..." She let her head sink slowly onto the desk in front of her, making a noise of raw frustration. Bastion's grayed, dead body lay in front of a shimmering object within the chest... So close... So close! She thought, pulling at her dyed violet hair, tormented by the rookie mistake. For all the practice and experience in the world, stuff still happened and no one was ever perfect. After several minutes of wallowing in self-pity, Ren removed her headset and looked up at the low-ceiling with bloodshot, red-rimmed eyes. Her stomach ached from a steady diet of sugary, high-caffeine energy drinks and assorted junk food. Around the table sat nearly half a dozen computer monitors, all bright and displaying various game-related subjects. Channel G5!, Tokyo's own gaming news channel, was reporting on none other than the mysterious Our World owner and head administrator, Nelwa, while another monitor had the KoG site pulled up. Around the table itself, two mountains had begun to form on either side of Ren. Energy drink cans of all shapes, sizes, and colors lay empty and crushed like her own dreams of just once having a dungeon crawl go off without a hitch... "But that's life! You just gotta cowboy up and go another round. Get knocked back down and stand back up!" She went to stand defiantly but, not having removed her ear phones, was defied herself and stumble backwards, having her ears feel as if they had been violently removed. Toppling over, Ren reached out to catch herself and grabbed hold of a basket of freshly folded clean clothes which came down with her, along with a half-empty energy drink that spilled over them. There was a long sob from under the mess of wet clothing, "Why does God hate me?" She mumbled and sat up, an inside-out pair of boy's boxers hanging from her head, "Those don't even look like mine..." The tag read 'Kaato Yurinoryuu' and Ren died a little on the inside and gave a heavy sigh.
Sunday May 17'th 2020 // Raginmund of the South// 19:11
The scene was one of a sensually dark beauty. On the edge of a cliff, out over the digitally crafted sea with a huge moon hung low as gray clouds rolled by in the black-purple sky. Raginmund sat, his legs dangling over the edge as a beautiful and melodic tune hummed quietly, the sound of an angel's sorrow in some mystic language added to the atmosphere. Raginmund had taken to calling it this spot his own, a very specific and isolated area of Lonely Her Melody... With literally thousands of combinations, it seemed this particular field went overlooked. Maybe because of its low-level and general lack of monsters and quests. In fact, to Raginmund's knowledge, this field served little to no use... But here, on this exact peak, hundreds of feet above the roaring black seas on jagged rocks, below a brilliant blue moon that never ceased, and surrounded by a harmonious and hopeless chorus... He forgot about things. The Blade Brandier spent much of his time here now, simply listening to a recording loop that he knew meant nothing, looking at a scene he knew was computer generated. But... He had no 'but', it was just that simple. He liked being here; he felt a connection to this exact spot. The blue-green grass under his fingers felt like-... Well they did not feel like anything, but Raginmund could imagine the feel of moist, cool grass under his fingers. Grass he could grip and pluck the blades of if he so chose. Feel the smooth, sharp texture of the blades between his fingers, the wet droplets of cold dew run down his finger. Here, in a world where everything was fake, real emotion washed over him in waves not unlike those pixelated waves that churned below. Here, in a universe created by 1's and 0's, he contemplated the deepest things in life.
Drama was his drug of choice. Internal conflict brought on by the self was a rush, emotional distress, danger and subsequent rescue just before ones psyche went off the edge. What greater thrill was there then the mind and all the things it produced? Reality, a small box of what people accepted as truth, was created by the collective minds of the masses... Outside that box was insanity and delusional things where you were rejected, medicated, and dragged back kicking and screaming into that box of reality. But there, on the fringes, between what was real and what was not, what was accepted and what was rejected... Raginmund looked down into the blackness, his mouth open slightly, trying to breathe in the salty sea air. Here, on the edge between the digital water and digital ground, where, should he take a leap, his character would die and respond, he liked to ponder what would happen if, for whatever reason... Reality stopped. The box, rigid and unforgiving, simply ceased to be all at once. Theoretically, since there was no actual 'box' and it was just an idea created by the hive-minds of society, nothing would happen. People would go on living their normal lives... But... But what if what was real and what was not... The Blade Brandier ran his hand over the wet grass, eyes wide as he seemed just so close feeling it. He closed his eyes and lay back on the grass, legs over the edge. Another darkness slipped over him, a hazy and droning losing of ones self to paralysis. Sleep.
Something tugged at his arm. Raginmund opened his eyes wide, something was not quite right. It hit him, his back was wet... Why was his back wet? The grass obviously. But-... The tugging at his feet grew stronger and he felt himself being pulled over the cliff's edge, "Please," He mumbled, choking back tears, reaching out to his Blade, Horror Reaver, a wicked looking sword with a obsidian tinted hilt and blood-crimson edge and blade. Twisted magical metal that, according to the description, locked away the very essence of all those it took the life from, feeding a demon trapped inside until it was strong enough to break free from its sword-prison and swallowed its wielder's soul. However, Horror Reaver was nowhere to be found... It simply was not where he remembered leaving it. Raginmund exhaled in a panic and dug the fingers of Hade's Unrelenting Gauntlet and his un-gloved hand into the soft, moist earth, grabbing handfuls of rich, loamy soil. The soft dirt broke free and was off no use as an anchor. His slow descent over the edge seemed imminent. Sitting up, the Blade Brandier saw what hung from his feet. It was the female figure, one of heavenly appearance, and, when she opened her mouth, Raginmund understood why. The melodic, mysterious language that passed her lips sank him further into the already incoherent, confusing situation. He finally felt himself slip from the solid ground and fall down towards the roaring black where he knew jagged rocks and raging waters lay in wait.
Kaato slipped out of his chair completely and landed face-first onto the floor, a wet, cold sweat down his back. He moaned in a zombie-like fashion, dazed and half-conscious. The young man stood and stretched, his spine and shoulders popping painfully before he simply slumped back in the chair. On the screen, his character still lay upon the blue-green grass on the cliff edge, the angel's music played softly through his speakers. The time read 19:30 and there was a small Flash Mail ready to be opened... The man, plagued with self-induced bouts of sleep deprivation and obsessive gaming had neglected his body to the point of exhaustion. Dark, deep circles under Kaato's eyes told the story better than anything, his eyes sunk back into his head lightly. Stubble was across his face and neck, not a 5'o clock shadow but more of a scruffy, ill-kept sort. He had been wearing the same off-white shirt for... A while, and the soy sauce stain on the front from the last time he ate, also a while ago, was still there. "I really need to get it together,"
"Yes you do..." Sounded a whisper and he looked around the room. He often heard voices when he went days without proper sleep. Not crazy 'kill them' voices, but just conversational voices. Well... Voices... It was a voice. A single voice. That of which he imagined his character, Raginmund of the South, the demented Blade Brandier, would have if he was real. It was soothing and coercing, yet held a certain malicious intent to it that one could not shake. It was never overtly dark but- A knock at the door, "Coming!" Kaato looked around at his room. It was tiny, as most apartment rooms were in this area of Tokyo. One of the single most expensive cities to live in the world. They say if you took a hundred yin, folded it up as small as you could, and placed it on the ground, that it would not be worth the ground it covered. It was true, Kaato made meager wages compared to some of the more enterprising and successful in the area, but anything that kept him away from the farm life of back south where his strict parents had wanted him to stay and bring honor to the family tradition of sewing and reaping the land for next to nothing. No, Kaato had gone into the city, like many young Japanese adults who wanted to make their way. To find bigger and better opportunities in the real world... How ironic that he now spent most of his time in the 'fake' world, "Coming," He repeated, scrambling to get himself presentable, "Just one second," He finally reached the door and was greeted by a small indigo haired girl holding a pair of... Oh no...
Sunday May 17'th 2020 // Ren Hamasaki // 19:34
The young girl knocked on the door, room 304. It was Kaato's room... The weird guy who people in the apartment complex said talked to himself on occasion. Ren looked down at the pair of shorts, only now realizing that she had marched over without any idea of how to explain the situation. Looking before you leaped was not her forte in real life either it seemed. The door opened after a brief wait which felt like an eternity and her boxer-holding hand shot behind her back. The two stared awkwardly, she with a strange, cringing smile and he... Without a smile, "Good evening," She finally said. There was a long pause as the man seemed to look about, up and down the hall of the dilapidated apartment complex. The iron-bar rails, once painted white, were now brown and rusted, looking like the ribs of some cruel monster that had swallowed them and others into it. light was given off by cheap bulbs that had been hung out, strung up across the top, a rig that looked as crude as it actually was. Graffiti covered the brick walls and gum and stains dotted the stone walkway. Holes in the overhang let one look up to see a light-polluted, starless sky. Tokyo was the city to end all cities, and, like so many other metropolises, was a wonder to visitors and a hell to those who resided here permanently.
"If you say so..." Kaato finally mumbled, shading his eye from the lightbulb that hung just outside his door in the hallway. It dawned on him that he hadn't been outside his apartment in days. He lowered his eyes to the girl in the orange shirt and purple pants, "Can I... Help you?" There was a particular weirdness about her that made him more comfortable than he was around 'normal' people. Though, at the same time, the 'hey, I'm a rebel' look was just cliche to a psychology buff. She probably had mommy or daddy issues. Sounded like the run-of-the-mill case of someone who would be a runaway to the big city.
"Oh. Well," She cleared her throat and straightened up a little, "I just uh... You know, I know we've been neighbors for a bit, and I have-I mean, you see, I..." Ren couldn't possibly tell this guy she had his boxers. What? She just didn't check the dryer last time? He would think she was some kind of weirdo, or, worse, he might be some kind weirdo. You know, beyond the self-held conversations, "I see you play Our World," Ren had looked past him, to the blacked-out character on the screen, "Blade Brandier I take it?" She laughed nervously as he shifted his weight, blocking her view, "Ah... Well, I'll just get going now then. Nice meeting you! Lovely visit! Will have to do it again sometime," She was backing away and turned to go back down the stairs.
"Are those mine?" The man asked bluntly. Ren stopped dead in her tracks, she could feel a bead of sweat about her brow.
Ren cringed and shut her eyes tightly, "Oh... These? No, I uh... I mean, I found them in my room-I mean they were with my clothes. I guess I took them... Without noticing obviously, I would never steal a person's underwear... Or any clothes for that matter," She turned and held them out, "I don't sniff shorts," A voice of almost pleading, her throat was in her heart... Or was it the other way around? "The name on them said, 'Kaato' and I was like 'Oh, that dude!' and then I was like 'Yeah' and stuff... Here I am!"
"With my shorts.."
"With your shorts!" Shoot me please, it would be just so much easier.
Another long pause before Kaato silently walked over and took them from her. The man mumbled his appreciation and she mumbled back something to the equivalent of wishing herself swallowed by the earth. It was not until that he vanished back behind the apartment door that she moved again. Her legs shook and hands trembled, it was the most embarrassing moment she had ever faced... Slinking back to her room with eyes fixed firmly on the ground, Ren closed herself back into her room and wished the day away from memory. "At least I can sit back down to Bastion... The moderator thing! Oh no!" Rushing over, Ren quickly through back on the headset and put in her earphones, actually somewhat forgetting about the underwear incident already as this took president. She input the name of the Lost Ground and was whisked away to an area which she had never been before. A magnificent Gothic cathedral. It stood alone, at the end of a long stone walkway where a few others already stood. Getting back into character, Ren settled herself into the mighty Heavy Blade, the Knight of God, Bastion, and walked forward a few steps before another warp caught her attention. Who appeared was a Blade Brandier, a large gauntlet on his arm. "You gotta be kidding," Ren muttered to herself as Raginmund of the South walked past the Heavy Blade towards the cathedral, admiring its beauty and the area music, his eyes lifted high, up towards the sky. That really couldn't be Kaato's character, the one Ren had just glanced over a few minutes ago... Could it? She swallowed and tried her best to shake it off, forcing her character. "Greetings fellow... Fellows! I hope that I am not late for the second stage," Bastion stepped heavily along the way, clanking in the armor as he went. Meanwhile, Raginmund did not even acknowledge the others... He was truly caught up in the simulated architecture and the aura of this place. It was not like his personal hideaway, but... It was nice enough.