Beads of sweat dripped down his face as he contemplated the computer screen before him, displaying a character creation menu and a poorly armored human male before him.
Never before had he been forced into making such a crucial, monumental decision; a decision that he would either appreciate or regret for the course of this game he had chosen to engage...
'Apocalypse', the latest and hottest Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG); featuring a dynamic world littered with fantasy beasts, noble and villainous non-player characters, ancient demons and gods and of course, the courageous player characters who would dare challenge the fates set by the creators of the world of 'Apocalypse'.
"What to play, what to play?" he mumbled to himself, scrolling past character races, classes and the customization of looks; recalling all the enthusiastic studying he had done of the game's many combinations, seeking to create the most powerful character to ever walk the world of 'Apocalypse'!
Of course, that would be no easy feat; recent technological advances in the maintenance and capacity of system servers had eliminated the need for multiple servers to host the millions of players that had already logged onto 'Apocalypse'—meaning Game Co, the creator of Apocalypse had the liberty of tossing in all their players into one massive world to duke it out with one another.
The prospect of a massive slugfest in world Pvp was proving to be very enticing indeed.
He paused as he considered first what race to play.
"Humans, the noble descendants of the Great Unifier Lucias," he read the game text disinterestedly before scanning what was more important game-wise, the racial strengths of the humans, "Has Perseverance, Commerce and Diplomacy…"
The next race was the stereotypical Elves; Apocalypse may have been new but it was still a fantasy based MMORPG after all and no fantasy is somehow complete without the presence of a pretty pointy eared race. Anyway, specializing in swift attacks and arcane spellcasting, the Elves made for exceptionally powerful rogues, rangers and mages and their racials befitted their status as such—Nature's Fervor and Increased Dexterity earmarking them as strong ranged DPS.
"Interesting," he mused, especially pausing to consider the beautifully detailed Elven females but then looked to the final race in the Republic—the Dwarves. Their racials suited the harsh and rather dour looks of the dwarves: the first being Thor's Fury—a berserk-like ability which granted immunity to fear and terror effects while gaining trample and the second was Hardiness which boosted elemental resistance.
Mulling it over, he then considered playing as a minion in the Empire; the foremost race being the Dark Elves; former Elven noblemen who expelled their lesser brethren from their lands many years before in a bitter civil war. Malefic Darkness was a powerful damage-over-time (DOT) curse which reduced its target's morale as well, making foes more susceptible to fear effects while Worshipper of the Darkness granted increased attack and movement speed while fighting at night.
The Horde was the multitudes that served the aristocratic Dark Elves; consisting of a variety of races such as orcs, trolls, ogres and undead amongst them. Theirs was a race of mostly brute strength and their racials distinguished them as the powerhouse tanking or melee DPS race of the Empire with Blood Curse and Vigor handy.
Daemons were the third and last race of the Empire—hybrids born of humans and demons. Whipped by hatred for their purebred cousins, they aligned themselves with the Dark Elves to pursue vengeance against the Republic who had shunned them. Racials such as Inner Beast and Terrifying Visage looked to be useful in Pvp combat, he thought.
He bit his lip before finally deciding to play a Dark Elf female, liking their insidious racials and the buxom forms of the Dark elf womenfolk. Given the second racial of Worshipper of the Night; his choice seemed to be clear—he would roll a Dark Elf assassin!
Remembering a book he had once read, he named his character 'Issildar'. Much to his relief, it appeared that no one else had taken the name and he quickly logged on, staring at the loading screen of a sadistically grinning Dark Elf female warrior posing in victory over a defeated Elf ranger for what seemed like an eternity before the loading screen turned blank and the opening cinematic greeted him.
A single Dark Elf male hunter stood watch over an Elven village, his grim visage rigid as he watched over his enemies. Then, the narrator's voice spoke…
We were once Elves, sharing the simple-mindedness of our brethren; content to worship a deity we knew naught of—the one our foolish brothers call the Halar. We believed in the stories of the Great War, where men, elves and dwarves alike put aside their differences and took up arms against the demonkin; the battle that was fought beneath the now-ruined citadel of Havan.
That was before we were enlightened.
Before we learnt our folly, that this guardian deity we had once worshipped was little but a figment of the imagination; that the only constant was chaos and utter negation.
Glory be to Urzwraith the Enlightened, He who had first opened our eyes to the façade that had confounded us for so long!
Crimson runes formed against the hunter's pale skin, even as he raised his mighty bow and notched an arrow, drawing it at the unsuspecting Elves below.
Regretfully, many of our brethren could not see this new light that be the darkness that surrounds us.
They must be redeemed, or they shall perish!
The Dark elf grinned before releasing his dread arrow, just as hundreds of Dark Elven warriors charged past him, issuing a great cry of war as they rushed towards their former brethren.
Her silver hair gleamed strangely in the dark light of the cathedral which was empty save for the ghostly nun standing before the entrance. Issildar the Dark Elf rogue blinked, her eyes growing accustomed to the darkness as the nun moved slowly forward and clapped an aged hand on her shoulder.
"Another youngling?" the nun wheezed in a tired voice.
"Yes, Holy Mother," Issildar replied with a bow. Though she was a rogue, Dark Elves were always trained to be respectful of their elders; regardless of profession or social status—for all carried the cause of spreading the gospel of darkness, no exemptions, and no exceptions.
The nun, apparently blind, reached up and grasped her cheek before murmuring, "So, you have chosen the path of the rogue?"
"Yes, Holy Mother," Issildar replied again.
The nun nodded and said wearily, "Shadower Gin awaits all aspirants to the path of the rogue down by the ramshackle town of Fal'oren. You will commence your lessons there."
"Thank you, Holy Mother," Issildar replied, bowing low though the nun could not see her before striding away, towards the open door and into the gloomy outside.
Withered trees and a barren wasteland greeted her. The church graveyard stood ominously to her right, many of the graves notably emptied with tall undead guardians standing watch nearby. Issildar merely smiled as the guardians, catching sight of her bowed low—the magicks that bound them dictating their deference to all Dark Elves.
She had stepped only a few feet beyond the boundary of the church compound when a loud scream rent the air. She turned around, only to glimpse a crazed-looking Elf charge her, wielding a graceful longblade.
"For the light!" he screamed. The undead guardians positioned in the church howled at the sight of a member of the Republic and drew their blades, but it was clear that the elf would assail Issildar before the guards could reach her.
Not that she would need their help though.
"A level 1 Elf scout?" he scoffed as he right-clicked on the hostile target, activating Issildar's auto-attack function. He scrolled his mouse over the action bar; looking for what starting abilities a Dark Elf rogue would start with. While Issildar hacked away at her Elven opponent, he quickly set his hotkeys in place and grinned as he began hammering away at his keyboard.
The Elf charged with a mighty roar. Issildar glanced at him disdainfully and whipped out her dual daggers and hissed, "Malefic Darkness." Her blades immediately pulsed with a dark energy and as the Elf came at her, she dodged smoothly before sliding her blade into his flank, delivering the deadly curse into the Elf's bloodstream and nervous system.
He shuddered noticeably but continued the assault, swinging his longblade at her neck. She parried it gently and pushed the blow above her head before casting 'Slice and Dice'. The Elf suffered three rapid cuts to his chest before he had even realized what had happened. He screamed in agony after a three second delay, exposing himself for a finishing attack.
Issildar smiled as she then unleashed all her available energy for a devastating final blow, 'Spiral Cutter'. With one smooth swing, she tore open the Elf's throat before thrusting her second dagger directly through his heart before pulling it out neatly, striking a smooth pose as the elf crumpled dead behind her. The undead, just reaching her, stared dumbly at her before hacking at the dead corpse, tearing it into pieces.
The rogue merely smiled as she wiped her daggers clean with an oiled cloth. Footsteps behind her heralded the arrival of a newcomer and she turned, only to glimpse a priest arching his staff towards her and mumbling a prayer; the soothing warmth that filled her afterwards indicating that he had just cast a healing spell upon her.
"Thank you," she said briefly as the priest arched an eyebrow.
"Oh? A rogue offering thanks to another? That is rare," he said amusedly.
"Come off it already," Issildar replied shortly as she rummaged through the dead elf's pockets for anything that might be remotely useful.
"The name is Aurion," the priest chuckled abruptly, earning an arched eyebrow from her.
"I don't recall asking you your name," she replied bemusedly.
He feigned a look of hurt and Issildar blinked in puzzlement as he said, "Come now, surely you would wish to thank your savior better?"
"Savior?" she scoffed, "I most certainly don't recall asking for your help."
The priest clapped his hands dramatically upon his chest and declared painfully, "Such an ungrateful child… What is the world coming to when wenches do not even know to introduce themselves in return to their savior?"
"Call me a wench again and I'll kill you," Issildar said flatly, only to chuckle as the priest blanched and took a step back. "Relax, Father, I was only kidding… I'm Issildar," she replied with a small amused smile, sheathing her daggers as she did so. "And I'll be heading down to Fal'oren then," she said before waving farewell to the priest who frowned for a moment.
"I'm heading there myself. What say I accompany you?"
"A priest, accompany a rogue?" she snorted derisively. "What will your holy brethren think when they see us approaching Fal'oren together?"
"I like to think of myself as a bit of a radical," Aurion smirked. "Being holy and pious all the time can be boring, you know."
"Oh?" Issildar replied artfully. "Why then be a priest in the first place, why not use your arcane talents to instead be a mage or a warlock? Their lifestyles hardly requires the sacrifice of so much as you priests do."
"Well you see, girls don't like dark mages or warlocks," he replied earnestly, "All the tampering with the forces of darkness can after all unhinge one's mind, and no sane girl would therefore allow any one of the two to approach her. A priest on the other hand is always welcome, not just by the girl but by her whole family, and that fits my hobby perfectly."
She blinked and asked in bemusement, "And that would be?"
"Women!" Aurion answered with a grin. "I love every single bit of them, from their lovely toned bodies, silken hair, well-endowed bosoms and, and…"
"Excuse me?" Issildar interrupted, flabbergasted by the unexpected answer as Aurion bounced around happily before her, still singing his worship of the female form. Moments later, finally regaining her composure Issildar exclaimed in a more amused tone, "Aren't you bound by your vows of chastity?"
"Women can never resist a challenge," Aurion waved his finger at her, "Vows of chastity, vampires, bad boys, forbidden love, that sort of thing. They all harbor hopes of being the one to convert the forbidden one into the perfect man for them so…"
Issildar issued a fake cough and replied, "That's assuming of course that they desire you in the first place." Looking at the boyish grin plastered across Aurion's face, she covered her smile before saying, "No offense, Aurion, but you aren't exactly what I would define as…"
"That's because you weren't in peril when you first met me," Aurion waved her off good-naturedly before breaking into an evil grin, "Imagine however a desperate maiden fending off the attentions of a whole zombie horde, and she's fleeing for her life weary and bedraggled, on the verge of death and I come in, replenishing her vitality and purging the undead that had beset her! Can you just imagine the gratefulness I would inspire in her, the joy my appearance would inspire in her and…"
"What if it's a man who's running from your zombie horde?" Issildar asked pointedly, a little startled by Aurion's theatrics as he embellished the whole situation for her viewing pleasure.
"I'll just let him die."
"Of course, if he has a daughter or a totally hot wife with him I'll let the fiends injure him to the point of death first and then come to his aid, too late to help him in any way and he'll then have me promise to protect his family with his dying breath, and of course I will agree, being the awesome man I am and then I will console the grief-stricken daughter and…"
"You bastard," Issildar interrupted with a smile.
Aurion adopted a hurt look and said whimsically, "I cannot believe you would say that about me, Issildar. You've barely gotten to know me, and how…nice I can be."
"Right," she answered sarcastically, "That is of course because I am of the correct gender, am I not?"
"Well, I do prefer gentler girls," Aurion peered at her, "Although I daresay your profession would account for your less than ladylike words and your somewhat masculine bearing. With a little training of course, I do not doubt that you could be more…"
"More what?" Issildar repeated dangerously.
"Well," Aurion hesitated before ruffling his hair nervously. "Forget I said that."
"Don't worry, I won't bite," Issildar's frown turned into a grin as she said easily, "It's amusing though, how easily I can intimidate you, Holy Father. You could use a bit of training yourself, to become as stuffy and fearless as some of your elder brethren."
"Stuffy?" Aurion demanded.
"You know, like announcing to the whole church about the perils of lust and denouncing a girl as a temptress just because she accidentally flashed you when she was bending over to tie her shoelace."
"What on earth…" Aurion began before snickering uncontrollably. "Happened to you?"
"No," Issildar replied with as much dignity as she could muster.
"It did happen to you!" Aurion chortled, leaning on his staff as to better manage his laughter.
"Careful now, Holy Father," Issildar said lightly, cracking her knuckles ominously. "It would be a shame for the guardians to find a mangled body on the way to Fal'oren for their dinner."
He blinked, his laughter cut off instantly, before chuckling nervously, "You wouldn't use them on me, would you?"
Issildar shrugged and said amusedly as she folded her arms across her chest, having noticed the priest's wandering eyes, "Who knows these things? Also, you're not coming within five feet of me, all right? And if you do dare grope me, you're dead!"
"What a shame," he frowned as he surveyed her lithe form. "We could have been very good friends…"
"Perhaps," she agreed, "But only from a distance, Holy Father!"
Aurion sighed theatrically and said, "Ah, how I suffer the bows and slings of fair Issildar, just to draw closer to her!"
"Ah, how I look to my virtue all the time while being near lecherous Aurion!"
He chuckled and said with a large grin, "This promises to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
"I don't recall agreeing to you being my friend."
W: To Aurion—a/s/l?
W: From Aurion—16/F/Toronto. U?
W: To Aurion—17/M/Washington. Y u playing a guy character?
W: From Aurion—Girls' boobs too big, so unrealistic! *sigh*, you one of the MMORPG huh?
W: To Aurion—what's that supposed 2 mean?
W: From Aurion—Many Men Online Role Playing as Girls! Perv!
W: To Aurion—well, the guys look too faggish for my liking; same as u disliking girls' boobs. Heh.
W: From Aurion—roll a Horde rogue then!
W: To Aurion—stats are so clearly suited for tanks! I hate tanking; I sucked at it in WoW!
W: From Aurion—noob. Haha! World of Witchcraft's dungeons barely needed skill in tanking!
W: To Aurion—hey, my dps is epic leet all right! I had a max lvl Nightbane that was in a guild that cleared the Abyssal Fortress!
W: From Aurion—that's only a tier 2 mid-level raid. T.T
W: To Aurion—well, where did you clear to?
W: From Aurion—I've downed Omega in Parallel Heaven.
W: To Aurion—ZOMG WTF?
W: From Aurion—yea got my legendary Godslayer sword. 300.4 dps with 2.4 speed, insane stuff!
W: To Aurion—oh god. You a rogue too?
W: From Aurion—I wasn't a Nightbane-type. I was a Deathbringer. I think that comes with tier 3 end-game level ranks?
W: To Aurion—ok, I am so following you around now.
W: From Aurion—fine by me =)
W: To Aurion—btw, why did you quit WoW then if your gear was so epic?
W: From Aurion—my whole guild is in Apocalypse now. All rolling Empire-side; we can't stand the pansy Republic. I was tired of playing as melee dps so I decided to try my hand at ranged dps and healing =)
W: To Aurion—boring job. I had a max lvl paladin also, divine spec; only ever clicked five buttons at most. Guild broke down though before we fully cleared Lothengrin.
W: From Aurion—ah that sucks. Did u clear the third-last boss, Diviner Shaloth?
W: To Aurion—yea, but gm had rl issues and had to quit WoW just before Dread Hierarch Maximillian. Officers couldn't be bothered to pick it up so ppl started leaving in droves.
W: From Aurion—shame, Shaloth was the toughest in that whole raid. DHM was a joke compared to him.
W: To Aurion—QQ.
W: From Aurion—anyway, want to join my guild when we get up and running? I know the gm, he's a nice dude.
W: To Aurion—zomg, seriously?
W: From Aurion—yeh, why not? You have decent raiding experience already. How's your pvp btw?
W: To Aurion—oh, I had two characters hit Warbringer level.
W: From Aurion—no wonder you didn't get to t3 lvl! Wasted too much time on pvp heh.
W: To Aurion—no guild that's why. What else to do than solo-grind pvp kills?
W: From Aurion—definitely can get you in that case. Apocalypse world pvp looks promising, we want to raid pansy Republic cities as soon as we can; their leaders drop great loot apparently.
W: To Aurion—cool!
W: From Aurion—oh look, Fal'oren!
Issildar had barely noticed the long trek to Fal'oren; Aurion proved to be a most interesting traveling partner with his myriad of topics to be discussed. As they drew nearer to the town, the undead guards standing guard permitted them pass with small bows.
The rogue strode the cobbled path to the town square, where a dried fountain and three ominous crosses had been erected, carrying upon them three crucified yet still-living Elves—two men and one woman. A small crowd stood at the base of the three crosses, jeering at the Elves as the hooded executioner sharpened a long lance.
She turned her face away, disgusted at the looks of agony that were apparent on the Elves' faces even as the crowd whooped loudly as the Elven woman screamed in pain—the executioner having chosen her to be impaled first.
"You disapprove?" Aurion asked softly.
"Despite them being our enemies, no one deserves to die that way," Issildar hissed as she marched past him to the nearby inn.
"A rogue with honor," he called after her sardonically. "Now, isn't that ironic?"
She paused before turning on him, her eyes flashing now. "Do not patronize me, Aurion. I am not in the mood now."
He smiled kindly at her before walking to her and taking her shoulder, marched her to the inn, keeping her eyes firmly averted from the brutal scene occurring behind them. "Sorry," he apologized, "I did not think you would have taken it so seriously."
"Would you like to die like that, Aurion?"
"No," he confessed. "That is a filthy death."
She sniffed disdainfully before breaking off his hold and marched into the inn before him. "I will see the Shadower now. Perhaps you ought to meet with your brethren in search of further training?"
"I do not doubt that our paths will meet again," Aurion said to her with a small smile.
"Perhaps," Issildar replied evasively.
To her surprise, Aurion abruptly spat at her feet before remonstrating loudly, "Foul rogue!"
She bristled at the sudden betrayal as Aurion waved his staff at her, preparing to draw her blades only for two cowled archpriests to emerge from the shadows near the fireplace. They shot her a disdainful look before murmuring to Aurion, "You are a fledgling priest?"
"Yes, your Holiness," Aurion said in a humble tone most unfitting of him. She continued to stare at him as the archpriests gave him a cursory nod before striding away arrogantly. Once they were out of earshot, Aurion sighed deeply before assuming his normal tone of voice, "Sorry about that."
He knelt to wipe his saliva off her shoes before chuckling nervously as he ruffled his short spiky hair, "I just about caught sight of them before they turned to look on us."
"It was all for show then," Issildar scowled, uncertain whether she ought to be angry with Aurion or to be amused by his antics and felt slightly gratified as he whimpered slightly before pleading his innocence.
"I didn't mean it at all, you know," he said as Issildar chuckled slightly before turning over towards the bar where her new master sat over a stiff drink.
"I will have nothing to do with you stiff-necked saintly scum as well, if that is quite all right with you," Issildar said scathingly but winked at the sweating priest who smiled back tentatively before gesturing with hand signals that perhaps they could meet outside town to complete a few quests together?
She shrugged her indifference and shooed him off before walking towards the bar and sliding in silently beside the tall Drow assassin she knew instantly to be Shadower Gin. "Ale," she called to the surly bartender who promptly slid a flagon of foaming mead on the smooth bar top towards her. She took up the drink and took a few gulps, only to feel a cold blade scrape up her spine.
Issildar placed the flagon back down upon the counter calmly before bursting into action, flinging the drink into Shadower Gin's face before knocking his blade arm backwards with her left hand, her right already whipping out her dagger only to stop mere inches away from the assassin's throat as she realized that Shadower Gin already had a second dagger placed to her throat.
She met his yellow eyes calmly and he relented, lowering his dagger and muttering in a wheezing, tired sort of voice, "Not bad for an amateur."
Issildar accepted his compliment with a curt nod before turning back to the remains of her drink. To her surprise, Shadower Gin motioned to the bartender to refill her flagon and said, "You've impressed me enough not to kill you here and now. Take this free drink—it'll be the last treat you will be enjoying from me in a long while."
"Thank you," she said, earning a pointed look from the Drow but she ignored it, focusing instead on her reflection in the murky surface of the alcohol where a small, somewhat satisfied smile now crept across.
I FINALLY posted this up on FP. For a story that I never planned to take so seriously, I actually wrote two drafts for this
In any case, this was written mostly based on my experiences playing World of Warcraft, beginning from the Burning Crusade before quitting some time in January this year after having my warlock hit 80 in Wrath of the Lich King. I wasn't terribly good admittedly but I had a great time while I was playing, especially with several Aussie friends I made back in my old server. PvPing with fail PUGs, dancing and sitting around in Shattrath... Heh. Those were the days.
What I do plan however is to have my regular reviewers being featured as in-game characters, if you guys don't mind of course heh. I promise not to mock you, make you do embarrassing things or depict you as an epically fail noob!
Also, if you're wondering about the title, I've named it as such because I'll be featuring the world of Apocalypse from two perspectives--the first being from Issildar's point of view, which will be subject to a traditional fantasy narrative, and her unnamed player's perspective which will include the nerdspeak and flaming and guild drama bits.
I hope you enjoy this chapter and please do drop a review, I return favors!
Oh, here's a short glossary of words used in this chapter, for those of you not entirely familiar with MMORPGs ;)
W: To ( insert character name) -- this is a function known as 'whispering' aka PST, used to talk to certain people without having it appear on regular chat channels (a form of private communication basically)
dps -- damage per second
tier raids -- high-level dungeons for large groups of people, usually 10 and above max-leveled characters
pvp -- player vs player
gm -- guild master/game master
rl -- real life