Players

I spend a large part of today attempting to add words to my novel. The words don’t not flow. The story is getting stuck. I would do well to limit the time I spend on this each day but do something each day. Maybe I should give the first free hour of each day to just writing and maybe an hour in the evening to revising and reflecting.

This is an ideas novel. It is an exploration of ideas. Freeform.

I’ve decided to post extracts to my blog as I write them and when they seem halfway postable in the hope that it will elicit comments that help me develop the story.

Players

Emerging into the pit, Gian looks up at the terraced rows of the arena. It is not long past noon and heat presses down from the sun naked in a cloudless sky.

There are perhaps two thousand people, men and women, many of them dressed in Roman style, as are the guards stationed by the aisles between the four quarters of the arena but there are other modes of dress representing the styles of different times and places. Some of the audience are clearly not human. There is a small contingent of large green humanoids, Orcs, distinguished not only by skin colour but by their size and the tusks emerging from their lower jaws.

Orc and Human they bay for blood, together maddened by the violence they have already seen.

Gian is armed with a two handed, double edged long sword, he is a powerfully built human. His opponent, Argan, is an Orc. He is a foot taller that the human and is armed with two short swords. Like Gian, Argan wears no armour but wields two swords. Standing wary at opposite sides of the arena the opponents wait for Duke Ranil to give the signal to start.

Trumpets sound and the noise of the crowd subsides. The duke rises and makes a speech that is of interest neither to the crowd nor the fighters. However they feign interest; the duke is not known for tolerating disrespect. He gives the signal for the fight to begin.

The two fighters rush together in a whirlwind of steel. Gian uses long sweeps of his sword to keep Argan at a distance but Argan is fast and relentless. Guan is soon disarmed, both lower arms falling to the sand still clutching his sword. His head follows and finally his body falls bleeding to the sand.

Gian watches as glowing mana energies leave his body and fow into Argan’s even his blood saturates the sand.

Gian’s watches as his body is dragged from the pit and Argan accepts the cheers of the crowd. Bodiless he feels like kicking himself for accepting the challenger from another player.

“Thanks for the fight and all the mana, noob.” says the voice in his head. Gian guesses that he has just been beated by some fourteen year old who spends all night on his Playstation Five.

Thomas (he hates being called Tom or Tommy) is actually fifteen years old. His face relaxes into a broad grin under the Playstation headset. Killing that noob brought his total of player kills to a round ten. He has been playing the game every spare moment of the four months since Asadar’s Summon was released.

The arena fades and Gian finds himself at a resurrection obelisk. Body regenerated, clothed in a simple tunic and all his accumulated mana gone. This was the first time he has gone PVP or Player versus Player and he’s lost all his marbles. The object of the game is to gain power or mana. With each player or non player character (NPC) that a player kills, he or she obtains the mana of that character and becomes stronger, faster and more able to manipulate the world’s magical energies.

In the Arena Thomas’s avatar stretches his arms to the sky and roars. The crowd returns his roar. Gates to the sands are opened by the guards five humans armed variously with spears, swords and tridents emerge blinking into the harsh light and noise of the arena. These are low level NPCs slaves and criminals to be killed for the entertainment of the crowd, they will be no real challenge but and Argan will easily steal their meagre mana and earn the promised gold from the duke.

It is easy to kill NPCs to obtain their mana. Other players are much more difficult and the reward and penalty of victory or defeat so much greater.

Standing in the shadow of the obelisk in a forest clearing around the still clear waters of the lake, Gian looks at his reflection in the water. He appears smaller and younger. Taking a moment to look at the tall trees and the path leading between them into the forest he resists the urge to stay here. After a moment he sits cross legged, closes his eyes and says ‘logout’.

“Become aware of your body, your breathing,” the voice breathes soft and soothing, “feel the contact between you body and the still suit. Move your head from side to side. Flex your fingers and toes. Stretch your arms and legs. It is Tuesday the second of October. The time is 12.15 in the morning. In five minutes the Cocoon will open. Take this time to orient yourself in the hear and now.”

James is lying in a cylindrical container, the Cocoon, suspended in stasis gel. He is wearing a ‘stillsuit’ and a mask covers his face and head.

The cocoon opens and the mask is gently lifted from James’s face. Attendants disconnect the suit from the Cocoon. James sits up and steps out of the Cocoon eyes adjusting to the brightly lit room.

In another brightly lit room Dr Gillian Constantine studies the reading from James suit. Both James and the still suit are functioning optimally, or at least James’s physiological readings are within the normal range. Gillian wants a full psychological evaluation before she is prepared to allow James to use the Cocoon for more than five hours.