The man pushed up his glasses and rubbed his eyes. He glanced over at the clock and groaned when he saw that it was three thirty in the morning. He needed to have everything done before the office official opening for business. The project was almost completed and all his co-workers would be angry at him if he wasn’t done by then. Technically the game was already completed, it only needed the final compile and bundle that he had been working on all night.
Jordan decided it was time for another cup of coffee. He was nearing the end of his task but he needed that last cup to keep him going. The small break room that they used was only a little bit away. He walked over to the coffee machine to pour himself a new cup. The break room was plastered with all sorts of promotional materials for he game he was working and they were placed their by their manager to help motivate all the employees.
He looked at the large poster while he sipped at the coffee. It was a close up of the two female protagonists who where staring off into the setting sun. The name of the game was featured in stylized letters at the top. “The Forbidden Domain” it said.
The male protagonist in the game was not featured on the picture. Jordan knew that was true of almost all the promotional materials. After all the male character was mainly an insert of the player and had very little personality of his own. While the choices the player made shaped the story his only personality came from the different dialog options that the player chose. This wasn’t too unusual for the male character in visual novels.
Jordan took his cup of coffee back to his desk and sat back down. The office was strewn with all the remnants of the late night party of celebrate the completion of the game. The manager has finally given her final seal of approval and the game was finally finished. Jordan had be present but he had known that even though all his fellow employees were done he still needed to finish the final steps before the game could be send the publisher.
The last of the other employees had left hours ago, off to celebrate their success at a bar. Jordan had wanted to join them but couldn’t. He understood their celebration. The Forbidden Domain had been in production at least twice as long as anything else that he had worked on. The project almost died three months ago when their publisher cut their deal. It has been a struggle but the manager got them a new publisher and work on the project continued.
Everybody had been hugely invested in the project. It was the largest visual novel that any of them had worked on and certainly on the most ambitious projects he had ever heard of. The story was huge and there were many different endings and possibilities for the game. The writers and voice actors and driven themselves nearly sick working on all the dialogue for the game and the artists had worked potentially even harder. Even programmers like Jordan has worked long hours to get this project complete.
Jordan finished getting all the files in order and began the final packaging process. Then the lights began to dim and a moment horror fell upon Jordan and the computers in the office all shut off along with the lights. Jordan cursed and then a moment latter the lights returned. Jordan jammed his figure at the computer power button desperately hoping that everything was alright. He knew his panic was unfounded, everything had been saved and backed up but still the fear was there. There was a real, if small, chance of all the work in the last couple of hours disappearing.
He sighed in relief as the computer finished booting up and he found that everything was still in working order. The final project bundle had failed because the computer had restarted in the middle of it but that wasn’t a big problem. He hit to button to restart the process before sinking back into his chair and finishing off the coffee he had been drinking.
The was some movement out of the corner of his eye and he glanced over toward the break room. He lifted up his glasses and rubbed his eyes again. He had thought for a moment that the two women on the poster had been moving. He thought that he must more more tired then he initially felt. He has been working extra hours for the last couple of weeks so that was certainly possible. He knew that he could be greatly relieved when he would be able to go to bed for the evening.
He jumped in his seat when his computer made a ding sound only to remember that was sound of the package completing. He has heard the sound many times when he had made testing builds for their QA department to test out. He reached out and grabbed the flash drive that was nearby on the table and plugged it in. The files were quickly transferred over the the drive and when with no small amount of relief he placed the drive in a manilla envelope and sealed it shut.
He stood up and walked over to his managers desk but before he could set the envelope on it there was a ringing sound. The phone that sat on his desk was ringing. He wondered who would be calling him at this time of night. Maybe it was his manager trying to make sure that everything was done. It would be a bit coincidental that she was calling right now though.
He walked back to the desk and paused for a second before picking up the phone. He tried to sound cheery instead of hopelessly tired, “Hello, this is Jordan Rhodes at Starlight Studio, how may I help you?”
“There is no choice without meaning but not all choices lead to hope.” Said the man’s voice on the other side of the phone line.
Jordan paused for a moment. That was one of the lines from the game one that he thought was fairly iconic. You would hear it in most of the bad endings but there were a couple of good ending where you heard it, notably both of the special true endings.
Jordan said, “Cornelius is that you? You shouldn’t troll me like this.” Jordan thought the voice sounded kinda like Cornelius, one of the writers for the game. He would also be the kind of person to try and mess with people with prank calls like this.
“The game that you hold in your hand is the pivot of the world. It will swing the world into ruin and damnation.” Those words were definitely not from the game. Jordan looked down at his other hand. He was still holding the envelope having forgotten to set it down on his manager’s desk before he answered the phone.
“Who is this?” He still wondered if it was Cornelius who might be hiding in a nearby room calling him to freak him out in the middle of the night.
“You must destroy the cursed one before she steps into the domain of God.” That was another line from the game. However then the voice continued speaking works that for some reason make Jordan shiver. “She must never be released. Only you have the true power to stop her. Destroy the drive, delete the game, you must for the sake of the world.”
The words seemed to reverberate in his head until it became too much for him and he slammed the phone down, disconnecting the call. He was frightened, who would be calling him at this time asking for him to destroy the game and everybody had worked so hard on. Not even Cornelius would try and pull something like that. Jordan took a few deep breaths. He fear that the person would call back so he held his break for a few seconds but when nothing happened let out the breath again.
Maybe it was just some crazy fan of some other game that felt threatened by The Forbidden Domain. That person must have just heard those lines from the promotional material. Jordan hadn’t know that had been on those materials but he didn’t keep up with all the different things that were sent out.
It took Jordan a few minutes to calm down. After a little bit he walked back over to his managers desk and set the envelope down into it. Then he walked back to his computer and made sure to make a backup of the fully completed game. That way even if soemthing happened to the flash drive it would be easy for them to make another copy.
He shut down his computer and then, because he was still spooked by the call, checked to make sure that all the doors and windows into the office was locked. Then he made his way outside to his car. His work was finally done and when his manager came into work tomorrow she would be able to send the drive off to the publisher.
Still the words of the person on the other side of the phone nagged at him. ‘The game what you hold in your hand is the pivot of the world. It will swing the world into ruin and damnation.’ He shivered and tried to shove those thoughts as far away into his mind as he could. Surely they didn’t mean anything at all.
Valerie sat kneeling in the rain. Her clothes soaked with water both from the rain and from her tears. She sat their sobbing holding the amulet that she had gotten from her mother. She was holding it tightly like it was the only the remaining connecting her to the world.
The man steps closer and reaches down to touch her shoulder. He saids softly too her, “Even if others would cast you out I will always be there for you.”
She looks up at the man and says, “Even if I am cursed?”
“I will never consider you cursed because to me you are the greatest of all blessings.”
She smiles the smallest crack of a smile and reaches up. He reaches down and completes the embrace. The two stay their hugging each other in the pouring rain. Then Valerie whispers into the man’s ear, “I love you.”
Then there is the grinding sound of metal against concrete. The man looks up and sees Yiskah walking toward them. She holds a sword which she is letting the tip drag against the ground. The man could not see her fact because she was facing the ground and her hair fell down covering her features.
“So this is your choice?” She asked, “You chose the cursed one and all the sorrow that she will bring. How little you care about the world if you would sacrifice it for your own desires.” She lifted up the sword and finally raised her face to the man. Her features were wracked in pain, indecision, hate, and jealousy. “Why! Why did you chose her over me?”
Lyle Clarke was the most dedicated of all the fans of Starlight Studio. He had camped out for more than one full day to make sure that he was first in line for their new game. Starlight Studio had not released a game for the last three years and their new visual novels was more hyped then any other game that had come out in the last four months.
And Lyle Clarke was their number one fan. He knew this because he was the first in line. He knew this because he was wearing a shirt featuring the heroines from Starlight Studio’s last game. He knew this because he had played their last game, Torment Peace, all the way to completion more then thirty times, viewing all the different possible endings. There was nobody who was more excited then him about the release of the new game.
He had even made sure to take the week off of work so that he could fully enjoy the game. Based off the numbers that Starlight Studio were saying about their game that would be enough time to beat the game, maybe even twice.