The deep forest was completely shaded by the canopy of trees. And yet the colors were still bright and vivid - the fiercely green leaves, the bold pink blossoms, the golden butterflies. Some trees were small and stout, only a story high, and the trunks grew with a natural doorway into the hollow of the tree. Each doorway was adorned with woven grass mats and curtains made of strung seeds and nutshells. Snow white rabbits and auburn squirrels hopped gently along the ground while azure birds soared from one tree branch to another, chirping a happy melody.

The wood nymphs have always held a deep connection with nature. The rich, bass narrative voice bubbled into the atmosphere like seafoam onto the shore. Here in the peaceful Aidana Forest, nymphs live in harmony with nature. But the reach of the Shadow knows no bounds and threatens to disturb even this idyllic wood. It is here that your adventure begins - with The Baron of Shadows™.

She already felt her sense of pride and duty rising. She must protect this natural sanctuary! Finally her avatar materialized in a burst of magical sparks - Ursula the wood nymph. Her skin was green as mint and her hair brown as earth. Her body was supple with the same plump curves of a baroque seraphim. The druidic powers that churned within made her blue eyes softly glow. This was it, the start of a new life, a new adventure, new -

Tripd1ck hey girl nice tits

Tripd1ck whistles at [Ursula]

A slight damper on the moment. But of course that sort of thing was to be expected, especially until she earned her first set of armor. All Level Ones started out in what was basically fantasy-style underwear. Brushing off the remarks pinging in the chat window, she glided forward - she actually glided! Her gentle nymph sensibilities to nature meant she didn't even tread upon the grass, but rather floated mere inches above it, the tips of the grass blades softly tickling her toes. Her hair flowed in waves, as though she were moving through water. The graphics were amazing!

There was an amber spotlight on a blossoming almond tree near the brook - the sign of a quest giver. As she approached, she noticed with increasing curiosity that the tree almost appeared to be human in form, the long branches having sprouted from ten fingers, the top of the trunk a woeful face. This poor soul needed her help!

The dialogue popped up. Ursula was eager to read the tortured tale of this poor transformed nymph. But another popup suddenly obstructed her view.

Moonscar has invited you to join his group.

She considered a moment, but decided she wanted to enjoy the experience at her own speed and declined. She continued to read the tree-nymph's tale:

My name is Daphne. I was pursued by a wicked satyr. I could only escape by transfiguring

myself as you see. The satyr, Caleb, was once a dear friend of mine. I think he may have

been touched by the Shadow. Please -

Moonscar has invited you to join his group.

With mild frustration, she declined the invitation again, but selected too many buttons and also closed the quest window. Please - what? She opened her personal quest journal to read over what she had missed.

Moonscar Please can I quest with you fair lady?

Ursula's lips curled into a sneer, though he was being polite.

Ursula Thank you, kind sir, but I relish the excitement of a solo quest.

A satyr stepped into her view with blue skin and a black beard, the name Moonscar hovering overhead. He seemed to be speaking to Daphne as well, another Level One.

Her quest journal told her she had to journey to an open glade and collect the sundrops that fell to the ground. Then she could use them with her druidic powers to find and cure Caleb of his affliction. There could be no nobler quest than reuniting two dear friends!

The open glades could be spotted by the sunbeams that cascaded from the canopy to the ground. Ursula glided toward the nearest one, delighting in the fully animated scenery of gently blowing petals, buzzing bees, and the shifts in the light as wind tousled the branches of the canopy. The open glade was almost blindingly bright compared to the rest of the forest with a wide patch of pure blue sky above. A twinkle near a stone indicated that a sundrop was resting there. The nymph glided eagerly toward it, when suddenly, it was gone. And there stood Moonscar. She turned and spotted another one near a fern. She was within inches when Moonscar swooped in. For a moment she just hovered in place, waiting for him to move so she could choose the opposite direction. But he stood as still as she.

Ursula cast Elusive. It suddenly appeared as though there were several duplicates of her going in all different directions. She bolted out of the glade and in the direction of another one not too far away. In the next glade, she was able to continue her quest: one sundrop near the brook, another atop a toadstool. Gathering each sundrop elicited a sheen sound followed by a plink as it was added to her satchel. A third at the base of the sapling, a fourth near the cloven hoof of...Moonscar. But he didn't move. She hesitantly approached to collect the sundrop - sheen plink. Still he didn't move. So Ursula decided to continue her business of collecting the sundrops. Moonscar did nothing but follow her silently.

Looking around the open glade, she saw nothing. She only needed one more. She was about to move to another glade…

Moonscar Over here!

Ursula winced as she turned to look. Moonscar stood near a cluster of reeds beside the brook from which emitted a twinkle. Reluctantly, Ursula stepped forward to claim the final sundrop.

Moonscar I know where Caleb is, come on.

Ursula has logged out.

Eight minutes later, Ursula rematerialized. She stood still a moment, pivoting around on her hovering toes to scan her surroundings: she was completely alone. With a sigh of relief, she reviewed her quest journal. When Daphne last saw Caleb, he was running to the west.

Ursula gleefully soared through Aidana Forest. The wind grazed her cheeks like feather strokes. She tested her jump ability to find herself pirouetting up into the air before landing daintily on one foot. Delighted, she jumped continually, spiralling forward again and again until...she teetered. The screen whirled. Did she actually just get dizzy from spinning too much? She couldn't decide if the extra burst of realism was really cool or disappointing.

As her marker neared the highlighted area of the quest map, a stretch of several caves became clear through the trees. Caleb was in one of these caves. She glided forward into the cave directly before her. The brown stony walls made the air suddenly chilly. As she advanced deeper in, Ursula was surprised that nothing was lit, even dimly. Surely the right cave would be lit somehow so she could spot Caleb.

A sudden loud crackle of static made her heart jump into her throat and the white polygon skeleton of a creature appeared in the darkness. As it twitched, some of its body became visible for a moment, then vanished again. It seemed to be a bear - but more specifically, a glitch. One small eye popped out then sank back in again. The limbs skipped ahead in their proper movement frames, making it difficult to predict if the creature was moving toward her or away from her. There was a red bar above its head, indicating it was a fightable creature, yet did no damage to her.

"I can help you."

Ursula jumped again, the hair on the back of her neck standing out. No text or dialogue boxes - it actually spoke, and with a voice that sounded like it was formed electronically rather than by a voice actor.

"Come closer. Come…" The image and voice wavered. "...m...ore powerful."

Glitches were not unheard of in any game, but something about this one terrified her in and out of reality. She cast Elusive as a distraction and for a temporary boost of speed as she shot out of the cave and back to the forest. But there was no tranquility as the crackle of static continued. She had to reboot.

Ursula has logged out.

Her pounding heart gradually eased to its normal rate after she rematerialized in the forest. Everything was as quiet and peaceful as it was meant to be. The trees softly rustled in the wind. Distant birds chirped their song. This time, Ursula took a moment to just stand back and observe the caves from a distance. All of them had moss climbing along the exterior, studded with delicate white flowers. But one cave to her far right appeared to have blackened moss - the touch of the Shadow perhaps. As a bonus, it was well away from the cave she had previously entered.

Approaching cautiously, she found a dim glow emitting from the black-moss cave. As she advanced, the darkness inside gave way to movement. There paced a brown satyr with a frizzed beard and gleaming red eyes. A red bar overhead suggested she had to fight him. She frowned momentarily - after all, if he was truly good, she didn't want to harm him. But he had to be weakened in order for her druidic magic to have its full effect. She didn't have any weapons but did have the attack spell Sunburst at her disposal.

To alleviate some of her guilt, the nymph approached close enough to provoke him into attacking first. He bucked at her with his heavy cloven hooves, sounding a clapclop as though a wooden spoon were smacking a saucepan. She hardly had time to balk at the odd choice of programming such a metallic sound for the assault, as she was thrown backwards near the entrance of the cave where she fell with a dainty nymphic oof.

Shadow Caleb uses Buck and commits 5 hp damage.

Ursula is Stunned.

True to the analysis, Ursula couldn't immediately rise again as she panted through the dizzying pain. Caleb put his fists together and created a spark of black light, readying his own attack spell. Suddenly, he burst into flames, his red HP bar depleted, and he lay in a dead heap on the floor. Ursula ambled to her feet to see a Level 8 nymph.

Lisistr4ta casts Sunburst and commits 27 hp damage.

The rival nymph turned and left without saying a word.

Ursula I was working on a quest, please don't do that!

What the hell was a Level 8 doing in this area anyway? Now Ursula had to wait for Caleb to respawn so she could begin again. Huffing a sigh, she sat - hovering of course - to drink some Moon Nectar she had gotten in her starter pack to regain the five health points she had lost. As she sipped the clear bluish-white liquid from the red clay cup, she watched the large bruise on her hip slowly vanish. Once Caleb's corpse disappeared, she rose to her feet again. No guilt this time - she had to attack first. As soon as he rematerialized, she targeted him. A crackling ball of fire ignited in her hand, and with a mere flick of her wrist, it shot through the cool cave air to strike Caleb square in the chest, sounding a muffled thud. The fireball extinguished immediately after it struck, but left Caleb's chest singed with open, cauterized scrapes.

Ursula casts Sunburst and commits 10 hp damage.

Ursula casts Shadow Purge.

Ten health points was half his total. She had to try exorcising him immediately. The drops of sunshine flew out of her satchel and combined into one pure white cleansing light.

Shadow Caleb uses Buck and commits 7 hp damage.

The white light died and broke into individual drops again, scattered along the cave floor. Ursula landed on her back with a cry of surprise. Though she wasn't stunned this time, she still had to stagger to her feet again, and her left leg was bruised and crippled. Apparently the ten points of damage wasn't enough. But another attack could kill him outright. At this point, she had to chance it.

Ursula casts Sunburst and commits 5 hp damage.

As Caleb reeled from the attack, Ursula hurried to collect the scattered sundrops. Despite hovering above the ground, her limp leg still slowed her down.

Shadow Caleb casts Shadownet and commits 8 hp damage.

Ursula didn't hear or see the attack coming. The heavy shadow descended on her like a blanket of impenetrable black fog. She coughed and wheezed, fighting for breath as she tripped onto the final sundrop. The moment the shadow began disintegrating, she tried the exorcism again. This time, the bright white light elicited an unholy shriek from Caleb as his entire body was shocked into a seizure. A grim, transparent shadow of himself wafted out of his body like smoke, then disappeared above him. The seizure suddenly stopped and he fell to his knees.

Ursula casts Shadow Purge and commits 4 hp damage.

Her eyes widened as she approached Caleb's fallen body. She hadn't anticipated that the stress of the exorcism would harm him. He was struggling to live on only one remaining health point now. Nonetheless, the glow of a questgiver's spotlight surrounded him, so she spoke to him.

Thank you...for setting...setting me free. Please...take me to my...my dear friend...so that I

can make amends.

Of course Ursula would bear this responsibility, but neither of them could really walk. As she tried leading the way, he exerted all his strength, yet could hardly lift a hoof to stand. Not even the NPCs got a fair shake in this game. She did have one Moon Nectar left. Maybe it would work on him. She targeted him then activated the healing drink.

A Level One satyr approached. Ursula immediately panicked.

Ursula I'm almost finished here. Just give me a minute, and he'll start respawning for you.

Riggs581 casts Sunburst and commits 8 hp damage.

Caleb died with the last of her survival beverage down his throat.

Ursula You f-g a-hole, I told you I was almost done!

Riggs581 i gotta leave for school in 30 min i don not have much time

Ursula So what? I was here first! I've been trying to finish this quest line for like the past half hour and s-heads like you keep f-g it up!

Ursula has logged out.

Ursula didn't return for a full twelve hours. When the ethereal green nymph rematerialized, she was in the cave alone with Caleb, who was alive and well with a green health bar overhead, showing she didn't have to cure him again. For a moment, she just looked toward the exit - the lush, vibrant forest was framed with the stone of the cave. Instead of relishing the state-of-the-art graphics and ambience sound, she found she could only dart her eyes suspiciously in search of anyone who might usurp her quest. In many ways, she had been looking forward to the "massive multiplayer" element of the game, but it had long become a nuisance. Still, she didn't pay $79.85 to just let it take up space on her hard drive. She was going to play it, and she was going to enjoy it, one way or another.

Besides, it wouldn't always be so difficult, would it?

Ursula spoke with Caleb to prompt him into following her and they left the cave together. She glided as swiftly as she could, Caleb keeping the pace well. It would only take seconds for them to reach Daphne.

TwilightPrincess2 Is that Caleb?

The blood pounded in Ursula's ears. She hadn't noticed the rose-pink nymph in her peripheral vision. Acting on instinct, Ursula targeted the perceived rival.

Ursula casts Sunburst and commits 6 hp damage.

She then bolted in the opposite direction to hide in a cave until she could reroute her path to Daphne. Her mind was fixated on completing the quest at any quest - no more delays or interruptions. She hadn't even noticed which cave she had entered.

"I can...elp you."

The staticky robot voice crackled to life once more and she saw the glitch bear. While it took her by surprise, being so on edge, this time it didn't frighten her as much. When backing up to get a better look, she could now see that the bear had a name hovering over its red health bar: Ursula. She decided to try to communicate with it. Clicking it did nothing.

Ursula How can you help me?

"Come. Come. Cl-closer."

The nymph glided forward until she was right in the middle of the skeletal glitch. The entire screen skewed like an old tube TV finding its reception. And yet there was no noise, just dead silence. A moment later, the resolution readjusted and the sound returned. The bear was nowhere in sight. Ursula sighed with relief that she hadn't wrecked her software or computer. Then she noticed the change.

Her bare feet touched the ground. She could even hear them gently slapping against the stone of the cave as she moved, kicking up small clouds of dust. And she had different armor than her basic starter set. A brown bearskin midriff shirt covered her chest and shoulders. A similar bearskin was wrapped around her waist with a leather rope belt. Bands of bearskin and leather covered her wrists and ankles. And a leather bear tooth necklace hung from her neck. And now a weapon was gripped in her left hand (she was suddenly a leftie, like in real life). It was a gnarled club made of petrified wood. And her Sunburst and Elusive starter spells were replaced with Paw Swipe and Intimidating Roar.

Ursula opened up her equipment screen. Basic Berserker Chest Armor, Basic Berserker Leg Armor, Basic Berserker Wrist Armor, Basic Berserker Foot Armor, Basic Berserker Club. She flipped to her character info tab. Where it used to describe her druid class, it now described a berserker.

Descended from an ancient tribe of half-giants who came down from the Acirem

Mountains, berserkers are renowned for their frenzied approach to battle. They enter into

an almost hypnotic state, striking any and all in their path with overwhelming strength until their battlelust is sated. They have a sacred, spiritual connection to animals, especially bears, and the more advanced warriors can even transfigure into bears.

A berserker - instead of a nymph druid, she was now a nymph berserker. But how could that be possible? In all her research in anticipation of getting The Baron of Shadows, she saw nothing about a berserker class. Her adrenaline spiked. Could she really be the first one in this game's three months of release to have discovered this? She wanted to go to the forums immediately for bragging rights.

But she found it through what seemed like a glitch. What if the programmers didn't mean for it to be released yet? Or at all? What if mentioning it would make the programmers take it away from her? No, she wouldn't mention it. She would just play it out, see how long it would last.

Ursula's chest swelled with renewed determination. She would finish this quest now. With Caleb in tow, she burst from the safety of the cavern. Her feet thudding directly on the ground made her feel like an unstoppable conqueror. The grass bent to her will, and so would all others. Another player came into view. She immediately targeted him.

Ursula unleashes Intimidating Roar.

HelenaHandbasket is Stunned.

Ursula's delicate nymph form released a roar so loud and so clear, there could have been a real-life bear in the room with her. The entire screen quaked at the shockwave of sound. The other player stood paralyzed with fear, trembling and mumbling gibberish. At the same time, Ursula felt a slight boost to her speed as well as her strength, her steps now creating divots in the ground as she darted among the trees. Truly this was how the game was meant to be played.

Daphne was in sight. Seeing the tree-figure appearing larger as she approached made her grin, like revisiting an old friend at long last. But there was another player there, a green satyr.

Tripd1ck oh cool he's right there

Tripd1ck casts Sunburst and commits 6 hp damage.

The attack burnt almost entirely through Ursula's bearskin chestplate. The fire almost seemed to seep into her blood as she boiled and fumed.

Ursula unleashes Intimidating Roar.

Tripd1ck is Stunned.

Damn right he's stunned, she thought. Between his paralyzation and her sudden burst in speed and strength, she was at his toes to deliver a blow with her club.

Ursula strikes with Basic Berserker Club and commits 5 hp damage.

Then her hand glowed with a red-orange light as momentarily it transformed into the great paw of a grizzly bear. She heaved it at him, landing a blow that tore three large gashes across his torso and felled him to the ground.

Ursula uses Paw Swipe and commits 10 hp damage.

But it wasn't yet enough. She wanted to be positive that he wouldn't interfere in her quest again.

Ursula strikes with Basic Berserker Club and commits 6 hp damage.

Tripd1ck has been parted from his body.

For a moment, Ursula paused in her rampage. She hadn't seen this happen before. She wasn't even sure it was possible for one player to kill another in the same faction. The rival satyr's body laid limp as his transparent double separated and hovered above. He was gesturing madly, but nothing came up on the chatbox. Curious, Ursula stepped toward his corpse and right-clicked it. Suddenly, her satchel gained two Moon Nectars - she was able to loot his corpse. And he could do nothing but watch helplessly.

Ursula smirked at her trophy nectars and drank them both down. She needed a bit of healing but also wanted his items to go to waste. Then, finally, she spoke with Daphne, who transfigured into a radiant pink nymph before her eyes.

Thank you for restoring my dear friend to his right mind. You are a great champion of the

light in these dark times. Please accept this with my gratitude.

A tinkle sounded as Jadeblossom Seeds were added to her satchel. Then a burst of wind gushed out from her with a brief blinding light. A pipe organ from nowhere blast a minor chord.

Ursula has leveled up!