Prologue - Sage’s Gift
I was eight when it first appeared. I think all of us remember it. The sky shimmered with gold and silver. The wind suddenly blew in a gust knocking me down. Then a flash of light obscuring my vision completely. When I could see again the sky was back to normal but I could see things, shapes and objects floating in front of my eyes yet not real.
My name, Lanette, it was up in the top left corner of my vision and no matter how I turned my head it was always there. Before that moment I would not have been able to recognize my name but now it seemed completely natural. Beneath my name were the words “Level 1 Child”, I never really questioned why I understood what I saw or how strange it was that I had become literate in one moment. And not just me, everybody in the world, in that one moment had gained the ability to read.
Now it seems so natural and so strange to consider the idea what people previously were not able to read. Now literally everybody is capable of reading, a side effect of the status magic that affects us all.
I remember my parents being confused and not understanding what had happened to them. But that moment was just the beginning, at that moment nobody understood the full depths of what status magic meant for our world. And I was a child full of wonder not realizing the true dangers of the world.
When I was twelve I was in Heithstar. Through the bars on my window I was able to see out across the city. I was able to see out when the Sage appeared in Heithstar. A giant figure robed in black appeared above the city. It hovered there waiting long enough for everybody in the city to realize that it was there.
It’s name was clearly visible above it. “Third Sage, Level ??? Great Sage”
It spoke and its voice could be heard all across the city, “Children of this world who have received our gift, disaster soon approaches. A great calamity that threatens to drown the world in sorrow. But do not despair because heroes will emerge from the darkness to save you and lead you into the light. Prepare yourself to aid theses heroes. Until Then.”
And then as suddenly as the sage had arrived, it was gone, leaving us with more questions then it answered.
Later I learned that the sage that I saw was one of nice that showed up in major cities across the lands and although that each said the same thing their names were different. The Nine Great Sages I heard them called however I didn’t have much time to think about it because my life was about to get much worse.
At that moment I was a Level 5 Cursed Blood.
What the sage said eventually filled me with hope and despair. I kept hoping that a hero would come and rescue me and each day I desperately kept hoping. But with each day I sank deeper into despair wondering where the heroes actually were and if I would ever be saved. One day I eventually just gave up waiting.
I was seventeen when my hero finally came.
I stood in a dark forest. Owls hooted, shadows cast strange shapes on the grounds, and I was under attack by wolves.
Normally I would say that this was totally normal except I was actually holding my staff. I could feel the gnarled wood in my hands, rough and hard. Given that I should be a spellcaster however I had no idea how to cast spells.
And I was screaming because there were wolves, real in the flesh wolves, attacking me. All I could do was freak out and hit the wolves with my staff as hard as I could.
I could see my hp bar in the top left of my screen… vision going down as the wolves attacked me. If that emptied would I really die? I didn’t know but I feared that it would be true. This was almost certainly not a dream, dreams didn’t have wolf teeth hurt this badly.
A swift smack with my staff sent one of the wolves down, dead maybe. However there were still three more and my hp was down to maybe fifty percent. At this rate I wouldn’t be able to defeat the third before I ran out of hp.
I was still freaking a bit out, see wolves, however desperation had caused me have to suppress my pure terror and think. I knew how to do this stuff… probably. There was a blue bar under the red bar of my hp. Probably mana or energy or whatever it would be called.
A staff and robes meant I was a spellcaster of some kind but the question remained whether I was a healer or a dps. The next logical place to look was near the bottom of my screen-vision. A bar, excellent, with several icons on it. Those must be my abilities.
Red ball moving in a direction, bluish horizontal crystals, swirling white symbols. Three icons, three abilities.
Maybe Firebolt, Ice Shard, Wind Gus? First guess, I could be an elemental mage.
Next question, how do I activate them, really wish I knew. It would certainly help with these wolves.
I had managed to defeat a second wolf but my hp was dangerously low. I estimated maybe 10% remaining. Learning how to use these abilities would certainly be helpful.
“One” I shouted, “Firebolt, fireball, fire ray!” Trying to activate the first icon. Normally I would just press a hotkey and activate an ability but considering everything was real that didn’t seem to be an option. My words however didn’t seem to activate it either.
Things were desperate and I only really had one lost shot at this. I took one last deep breath and drew upon all my concentration and knowledge of fantasy anime before pointing my staff at one of the wolves and shouting as loudly as I could manage, “FIREBALL”
I ball of fire appeared near the edge of my staff and streaked toward the wolf slamming into it and sending it flying. The last wolf leaped at me and bit painfully into my other arm. I moved the staff to point at that one and shouted again “FIREBALL”
With that it was over. The last wolf fell and it it I fell too. My hp was at maybe 5% if I was being generous. Close, too close.
I lay there on my back breathing painfully. Now that I was no longer in mortal danger I was able to think back and try to figure out what had happened and was happening.
It had been after dinner. I had gone up to my room and changed into my pajamas. I had sat down at my computer to play games but before that I had checked my email. What had it been, a promotional email for some new fantasy game. I had clicked on it and it had brought me to a website. There had been some service agreement that I quickly clicked past and then I remember clicking create account.
Then I was in a forest and there had been wolves.
I was pretty sure that there was a moral in that story somewhere, probably something about making sure to read service agreements before clicking accept. Although, had it said I would be fighting real wolves using real magic in a real fantasy world I would have probably clicked accept anyways. Crummy moral.
Having finally connected how I got here…. or at least close enough, it was time to take stoke of my situation. My hp was still at 5% so I clearly didn’t heal out of combat or if I did it was not very fast. I press my hands against my face and ran them through my long hair and into my mouth just to be sure. Yup, I was me.
There had been a chance I was somebody else, like a character that had been created for this world, but instead I was just me. Kinda disappointing really. Maybe I was a prettier version of me but that seemed unlikely.
I was wearing a brown robe which had red trim. I certainly hadn’t owned anything like it so I must have gotten it when I entered this world along with the staff that I was still holding in one of my hands. I was wearing very practical looking fantasy boots with laces although the grey knee length stockings were not that practical.
There was a small satchel back that was hand a strap over one of my shoulders. I guess there won’t be an inventory system if I had that. I pulled it open and looked inside. Because of the weight I was not surprised to find it basically empty. There was a glass vial full of red liquid and a smaller bag. I picked up that bag and my suspicions were confirmed when I heard a clinking sound. I used the string to open it to find a bunch of coins inside, silver and gold, around ten each.
I didn’t really know how much money that was, in some games that would be a long, in some it was almost none.
Then there was the potion, it has to be a potion. Healing probably because it was red, red meant healing, usually. There wasn’t a label but I figured it I started with it then it was probably safe. I popped the cork and took a small sip. There was a tingling sensation and I felt a little better. Sure enough my hp bar got a little fuller. I drank a little more until my hp was full which used about half the potion.
I pushed the cork back in tightly and stowed the potion and the wallet back in the bag. Those were helpful but they didn’t really shed light on what was going on. The next step was figuring out how the user interface worked.
It had been taunting me since the beginning but I was only now getting around to completely looking at it.
In the top left was my name, Veronica. It was only showing my first name though. Under that was Level 5 Adventurer. Starting at level 5 felt a little bit like cheating but it wasn’t that unusual in rpgs. It also said Adventurer, was that my class or something? Beneath that was hp and then mp.
My hp was full and my mp was down around 10%, my fireball must use a fair amount of mana. That would mean I would get around 20 casts before my mana emptied. I still didn’t know how to trigger my other two spells but I figured it would be about the same.
It was a pretty minimalist gui all things considered. The part that still interested me were the icon on the top right. If I had to hazard a guess I would say they opened menus, or at least they would in an MMO. However I didn’t know how to click them.
One of them was a little head silhouette, probably my character sheet. I stared at it and thought really hard about opening a character sheet. My efforts were rewarded by a screen popping up in the middle of my view. I scanned over it.
It showed a little picture of me staring back at me. Then a bunch of stats. There was also appeared to be tabs for jobs, skills, talents, and abilities. There were a lot of numbers, way more complex than most character sheets in video games. My strength was apparently nine and my magical power was twenty three. I wasn’t really certain how those compared yet but I could only assume one was bad and the other was good.