CHAPTER 1: START YOUR DAY WITH RAMEN

"Ow, my face."

"WAKE UP DUMBASS, IT'S MORNING!" My alarm clock screams at me, causing me to fall out of my hammock. I land facedown onto a giant pillow shaped like a dog, which proceeds to attack my face. Oh, wait. That's my dog.

Hi. Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Daemon McRae, fighting-class mage and all around magic dude at your service. Me and my buddy, Malkier run Security for the South Side district. I'm about 6'2", 200 lbs. I've got a relatively strong build. I have to; the South Side is gang turf. I've got pretty long, black hair tied back into a loose ponytail (except for the front, which rest in really long sideburns that frame my face, no bangs) Today I think I'llwear a black t-shirt and trench coat with black khakis.

Anyway, back to the dog. His name is Fenrir, and he's a wolfhound, a Redwolf-Malamute Husky mix. He's really cool looking, and almost completely loyal to me. Except when I land on him. Then he attacks my face. Which has resulted in some pretty cool battle scars thus far.

"ALRIGHT! MORNING!" Yells my roommate, and best bud, Malkier.

My buddy's name is Malkier Manatheren. He stands about 5'11", at 180 lbs. He's got really short, brown hair, about the same build as mine, though. He's sporting jeans and a white t-shirt. Again. He never changes his wardrobe; it's about 100 of the same thing: Jeans and a t-shirt. His boots are cool, though. Old Marine Corps. Combat boots. I like 'em. What I don't like is when he lands on the dog. Who then proceeds to attack my face. I hate that. Alot. Ow, my face.

Anyway, I smack Malkier upside the head, and magically glue his ass to the ceiling. My favorite way to say good morning. Of course, one of his boots has to fall off, land on the dog, and make him attack my face. "OW, MY FACE!" I yell. "Down, Fenrir! Fenrir! Down! Sit, boy!"

I drag my roommate and dog into the living room for some breakfast. "Hey, Malk, what flavor do you want today?" I yell at him from the kitchen. He's currently playing Neverwinter Nights 2, his favorite game.

"Cinnamon!" He yells back. "Hey, is there any Livewire MD left?"

"Nah, just regular and Midnight 2." I respond. I pull some cinnamon Ramen from the cupboard, and a couple of bottles of regular Mountain Dew from the fride. That's all we have here. Ramen and Mountain Dew. Ramen of all flavors, MD of just 2, now. It's really cool, actually, all the different flavors of Ramen are spelled to have all the nutrients and stuff we need for the day. My favorite flavor is Chocolate.

After a few rounds of Soul Caliber XXIII, and a good, hearty breakfast, I chain Fenrir up in the backyard withsome dog food flavored ramen, andwe head out into town to meet up with Vanessa. "Hey, check it out, man, I learned a new technique!"

"Aww, crap."

So nowI'm walking around the outskirts of New York City, watching my partner blow the shit out of stuff every few feet. He takes a step, says, "Hollow Wind," and blows up another piece of the public property we're paid to protect with a blast of wind shaped like a series of small blades. I hate this. I'm sick and tired of spending my hard earned cash on new trash cans.

"Do you have to do that every time you learn a new technique? I'm sick of using my paycheck to repair trash cans," I bark at him. He's not the smartest guy in the world. Hell, ask him to spell smart, you'll see what I mean.

"Please? I never get enough practice," he complains. He's really good at that.

"No," I bark. I like barking. Makes me feel better.I swear, it's the same thing every day.

"Please?"

"No."

"Please." This time it's a little more sternly, and I notice a large grey ball of energy in his hands. Obviously, he's going to be stubborn about this.

"No." I raise my hands in front of me,and imagine a little black ball in front of me. POOF. There it is.

He waves his hands in front of him, pulling more and more energy and air into the palms of his hands. Predictable.He then spins them together to form a small funnel, which he then folds over into a small ball. "Hurricane Shotblast," he shouts as he blasts the sphere at me.

I pull the little black sphere in my hands apart rather rapidly, leaving behind what looks like a, well I guess the best way to describe it is a scar over a whole in space-time. Like a wall of black lightning, or something. I'm not really good at describing stuff. It's badass, though.It's pretty cool lookin' "Decrepit Wall of Flame " I shout as the ball of wind shatters against my shield. Easy block.

He drops his hands to his sides, slides them in his pockets, and keeps walking. "Man, how am I supposed to whack the bad guys when I can't even hit you?" he mutters, kicking a soda can across the street. He looks pretty glum. Maybe I should take him somewhere.

"Good point. I suppose we should get some training in. The Thunders are starting to eye the White Lightning district. They're probably going to fight over the turf, and we need to keep the balance as even as possible." We turn the corner to the old parking lot across the street from our house. Our place is nothing special, just a small, one-story, one bedroom flat. We sleep in hammocks, by the way. Don't even go there. But the parking lot kind of belongs to us, too. Great training space, lots of room. We got it courtesy of our landlord, for protecting his family. He's an ok guy, Mr. Tanners, about Malkier's height, African-American, wife and son. Nice people.

"Damn. I thought something was fishy,"Malkier growls, snappign me back to reality.He looks around, "Hey, by the way, where's Vanessa? She said she was going to meet us here."

"Right here," Vanessa chirps. She hops down from a small hole in space, a little trick I taught her, and once again, I am struck anew at how damn lucky I am. Vanessa's my girl, about 5'9", I don't know her weight. For a reason. She's a nekogal, meaning she's got ears and a tail and cute little fangs. Don't ask me why, but I just love the half-cat thing.Her hair is about as long as mine, maybe 1'. It drapes over her shoulders like a fine gossamer curtain. She's got a hell of a figure, think Angelina Jolie at 17.

She lands next to me, and gives my ear a little nibble. "If you're looking to train, I could use a fight." She mewls.

"Great, we need all the help we can get," I say. I walk across the parking lot, Vanessa to the other side. I fall into a defensive stance I've grown used to from my kendo training. Yeah, I know. Typical, huh? Main character uses a sword. Wrong. I have this nice little black staff at home, covered in golden null-magic runes. Works on everything but my stuff, which is pretty handy. Little gift from Malkier's brother. Don't know where that guy is.

Anyway, I pull this staff out of my trenchcoat (another gift from the same guy. This thing is linked directly to our house, and I can pull or put anything in and out of this thing.), and grip it lighly in both hands, resting it against the curve of my palm.

She lunges at me, pawing her way across the ground, and I pole-vault over her, and sweep her legs out from under her. She handsprings back, and lands on m chest, slamming me into the ground. I grab her in a bear hug, stand up, and throw her at a fence.

She twist in midair, trampolines off the fence, and body slams me into the ground again. Then she freezes my hands and feet to the ground, and stands on my head.

Lucky for me she's wearing a skirt.

"I win, I win," she sings.

"Yeah, but I got the better view," I retort. She then kicks me in the temple and sits on a fencepole. Stupid me.

"I'm hungry,"complains Malkier. See? Told you. Really good at that.

"Alright. But we're not going to Happy Burger. I hate that place. A lot. And you're getting a small meal. I'm broke."

"But I like Happy Burger."

"Shut up or I death you." I say as we turn leave the parking lot, still arguing.

Five minutes later, here we are at Happy Burger. Again. And here I am spending way too much. Again. I don't believe this. Can't I say no to my friends once? Just once. That's all I ask. Happy Burger. I hate this place. It's overrun with kids on too much sugar because their parents can't say no either. It's got these really cute waitresses, though. I know. Waitresses at a burger joint? But hey, what are you going to do?

Speaking of waitresses, here comes one now. "Hey Siren."

"Hey guys. The usual?"

"Yep."

"Couldn't say no again, could you, Daemon?"

"Nope."

"Alright," she chimes as she walks off. Siren's a pretty cute girl. She's about the same size as Vanessa, but she's got shorter, red hair. 'Bout to her shoulders. She's wearing the typical Happy Burger uniform, which is pretty much a red maid's dress. Oh, and she and Malkie have been going at it for ages.

"Here you go." She sings in the typical waitressy fashion that this place demands. She puts our burgers in front of us (what, you expected lobster?) and sits down next to Malk. Well, not so much next to as on top of. "So what are you doing for the Halloween festival?" Ah yes, the ever popular Halloween Festival. A bunch of people from all over New York get together, show off, get drunk, and rock out loud. Happy Holidays, y'all.

"I'm doing an old war dance my dad taught me.," Malkier says between mouthfuls.

"I'm doing an interpretive dance along with Daemon's new song," sings Vanessa. Yes. I was hoping she'd say that. I love watching her dance.

"Another song?"

"Eh, maybe."

After a few minutes of chit-chatting and pleasantries, we decide to go home and prepare for the festival. I go to my house, Vanessa hers, and Malkier stays to flirt with Siren some more. Ah, young love.

About ten minutes later, I'm sitting here inour room, preparing for the festival next week.I like this room. Even the hammocks are black.Black dresser for clothes; big mirror on the wall (black walls, if you couldn't guess.); computer table (black); guitar stand (black); and a fairly large stereo system loaded with heavy metal, punk, and some foreign stuff I can't understand worth shit but love anyway. Ok, so it's a totally gothic room. And the whole thing is lined with silver.

The house I live in is relatively the same. Ever since my parents died, the landlord has let me keep the house as long as I act as security to the district. Malkier and I are pretty much the security for the South Side district, and as such, he lives here, too. But anyway, I bet you're wondering about the guitar stand.

The guitar itself is sitting in my lap, and I'm lying on the botom hammockwith my hands behind my head, one knee propped up, the other foot resting on my knee. I'm trying to come up with a song to perform at the festival. See, Vanessa has this crazy idea that I'm really good at songwriting, singing, and the guitar. She says my strong emotions feed my music, and permeate to my audience full-force. So, being the vixen she is, she thoroughly convinced me to write and perform a song to open the Halloween Festival this year.

I've gone through every topic I can think of, and I'm coming up with nothing. Eventually, I sit up and start strumming some cords, letting my fingers do all the thinking, playing out a steady, harsh melody. I have to say, music does come pretty easy to me when I want it to. Eventually, the words flow to my head and out my mouth:

Albrieae mestrui shinzaerei ni

Koerji midra jintaki turi

I pause, and contemplate. Huh, I haven't done an elven song in a while. Could be fun. I close my eyes and continue:

Shidobri mitrani mensaiea kulei

Dikangi akrasca kwortenji shenti

Akuri, Akuri, metrangi jjake

Misturi, Misturi-ma kulikande

Meltra condobri kotoda ranja

Shinzuku crosu kutadeinga

Kelikei Kelikei coutofe-ka

Alzier zeirie shatadabra

Akuri, Akuri, metrangi jjake

Misturi, Misturi-ma kulikande

I continue on for a few more verses, suprised at how much of the language I remember. Vanessa's brother, Shaun, taught it to me in high school, but mainly I only remember insults. I wrap it up, and hear a rustle in the room.

"So," Vanessa starts, scaring the shit out of me. I come out of my reverie, and notice her staring at me from the top hammock.

"Jesus! Where and when the hell did you come from? God…" I start catching my breath, and realize what I've said.

"So that's how you treat your lovers, hm? Well, if I knew you'd be this rough, I'd have been rougher on you." She plops down ontomy hammockand nibbles my ear.

"Well, if that's how you want it," I grab her by the waist and pull her on top of me, and give her a slow, long kiss. "So, is that rough enough?" I ask as we come up for air.

"No, I was thinking a little more along the lines of--" SLAM. Dammit, now I'll never know.

I poke my head out the door in time to see Malkier and what appeared to be a very happy Siren blur past me and intoa spare room in the back. I pull my head back into the room, muttering, "I don't want to know, I don't want to know, I don't want to know."

"Was that Siren? And Malkier?" Vanessa asks.

"Yeah," I mutter.

"So is that the song you're singing for the festival?"

"Yup. It's weird. It takes me like no time to come up with a song."

"It's just one of your natural talents. Like speaking Elven. You have the perfect voice for it. All fluid and velvety, like French, only softer.I've come to appreciate most of them. Speaking of which…" she purrs as she runs her tail up my pant leg.

"Way ahead of you," I say as I pull her into another kiss. God, I love my life.