There was a time when everything was crystal clear to me. I seriously thought I was living in the one and only world. I was born and raised as any other child and lived like any other. Who would have thought that this was but an illusion meant to keep us blinded to reality.
The sun was starting to seep in through the shutters, its’ warmth slowly waking me from my sleep. I got up to the sound of the city. It was probably around 8 am and already the merchants were hawking their wares. I lay there for a moment listening. Finally, stretching, I pulled myself out of bed and began to prepare for the day.
I’m the son of a blacksmith and as such have a looooot of stuff to do to prepare each day. After eating breakfast I need to check that all the tools that my father was using through the night are in good condition. I clean them and organize everything. The furnace has to be rekindled, as the flames became nothing more than embers while we slept.
I just finished cleaning up when my father came in. He’s a large sturdy man of medium height say around 5’10”. He’s rough looking but that’s mainly a result of his trade choice. His body is built to last, another result of his trade.
Father looks at me as I he turns around, having just finished putting on his apron. Its was once brown apron but has since become completely black. He smiles upon seeing I have finished preparing for the shop to open.
“Good job son. Way to take initiative.”
“Ah thanks.” I say as I finish putting my apron over my head.
“Oi you know I’m not very liberal with praise be happier about it!” He feigns being hurt by my cold attitude. Of course he knows I’m just not the kind of guy that takes compliments that well. It’s kind of like feeling that there is something wrong and something you did wrong wasn’t noticed properly. But anyways, I digress.
“I got it, I got it. Thanks dad. Now can we get this work started?” Smiling I try to assuage his hurt albeit feigned feelings.
He looks me in the eye for a sec with a stink eye. Then bursts out laughing. This is basically a routine of ours. “HAH! Well then open the door boyo. Let’s get to work!”
I open the gates to the forge to allow any customers in and so our business day begins. Basically, being a smith is not easy work but it does make a decent living. There are always people needing new tools and foreigners who are always coming buy for repairs on their weapons or with requests for a more powerful weapon or armor to be crafted. Were not the best smiths ever but I’m proud to say were pretty darn good at what we do.
As the day goes by we get a number of such requests. Sometimes we’ll get a random foreigner wearing peasant attire that comes in asking to learn blacksmithing. Its funny hearing the tidbits of things the foreigners say as they for some reason call these outfits “Noob clothes” the meaning of which I have yet to figure out. Of course my father and I are more than pleased to help people learn but never let them take such a skill easily. Besides the price we charge we also force them to make a weapon and a piece of armor just to be sure they actually paid attention to what they learned. The one’s actually taking up the class of Blacksmith we give them a bit of an easier time because we know it will be a tough path for them. Not that it stops us from charging them. Every copper counts.
Its getting late in the day and people are starting to close down their shops for the night. Foreigners are still going around and hawking their wares and fighting like crazies. I can’t understand how they manage to go around for so long without any sleep. Usually they are around for 4 days or so before they just disappear off the face of Versailles never to be heard from until they come back again after 2 days or so. I guess what really bothers me about this is not that they can go without sleep for so long its that they can disappear. It may just be the blessings of the Goddess Gaea allowing them to be concealed when they are sleeping.
As we are about to close our own shop down a large man walks in.
He swaggers a bit as he walks up to my father working some last bits of metal on his anvil. “Hey I’d like a weapon made. I need it immediately as my party and I are intending to destroy the Kobolds in the swamps near Taldo Village and I need a good weapon!” by the end of this little speech the man was in my fathers face yelling for what he wanted.
Of course, I’m just surprised that this man who seems to be pretty famous from what I have heard would be yelling at a man.
My father calmly looked up at him. “Young man,” he sternly replies, “I’m afraid were about to close for the night and cannot spare a moment to craft it for you. However, if you come back in the morning I swear you will be the first person I will craft something for since I’m having to turn you away right now.” fairly diplomatic even if I do say so myself.
But as seems to be a more common thing with foreigners lately the man, instead of thanking my father for his generosity decides to begin taunting him. Just so you know don’t ever taunt a blacksmith when he’s holding his hammer. It usually doesn’t go well.
“OHO! So your saying you can’t even make a sword is that it? What a useless smithy this is. I’m sure some other Blacksmith will make my blade for me even with it being so ‘late’.” His swagger was, of course, more pronounced by than previously.
My father, being the upright gentleman, at least to customers, who he is, stares hard at the man’s eyes before finally calming himself down enough to speak to the man, “Sir if you wish to take your business elsewhere then so be it. I won’t have someone sitting here and insulting me in my own smithy. So you best move along now.” With that my father turned around to ignore the man.
Face red as a beet the foreigner began sputtering and yelling obscenities before pulling the sword he had on his waist out on my father and proceeding to attack him. My father being the man he is immediately brings up his hammer to parry the man’s weapon while then taking his still red tongs and shoving them in the man’s face. Imagine still red from the forge tongs being shoved in your eyes. That about sums up what just happened.
The man scream incoherently as he starts swinging wildly. By this point we’ve had enough and so I start calling for the guards who monitor this area. It just so happens they were already almost to our shop when I started calling, probably from the screaming... yeah most definitely the screaming.
The guards were yelling at the man to stand down but he just kept wildly swinging. Finally, the guard captain of the squad that came ordered his men to put the man down. With his last breath the man swore to get us back for this. Little did we know this was the man was part of a fearsome party. At the time we thought this little bit of trouble was over with. No native has any real problem with killing a violent foreigner since for some reason they always come back to life in the halls of the Church of Freya. Unlike them we natives don’t have such a convenient ability. It is likely another blessing of Gaea who brought them from the land where they were once enslaved.
Happy to finally close up shop we cleaned up the most important things and made sure all the tools and metals were properly put away before making our way to dinner then bed.
That night I was sleeping a bit restlessly. The event at that occurred before we closed was troubling to say the least. I woke from another hour of terrible sleep. Staring out at the moon outside my window I wondered why it seemed that the way natives acted was so different from such a large number of foreigners? The foreigners always seemed to behave as if they didn’t really care as much what happened as a result of their actions. I mean I guess if you can come back to life you can just do what you want but still.
The wind was blowing pretty hard outside. I wondered at the time if it might rain the next day. Then I heard a light scuffling. Nothing unusual, most of the time, but it was the middle of the night, and most people would be either asleep or at a tavern. And we weren’t near a tavern.
Silence seemed to encroach again. Now I was worried. The silence was different than before. None of the bugs that one usually hears were chirping anymore. I got up out of bed slowly and put on the shirt I had by my bed. I slept with pants on so I didn’t need to worry about that. I crept to my door and slowly sidled up to it and listened. At first I heard nothing. Then I heard that scuffling sound again only much louder. Whoever is out there is really close by. I didn’t have a weapon on hand as most of our tools and wares were in the forge area. I waited till the sound was going past my door then opened it slowly. Good thing we oil our doors often as any sound would have been disastrous. Peering out I saw 4 men heading down our hallway. Three of them had hoods on while the last seemed to be wearing some kind of heavy armor, chainmail perhaps.
Looking on it seemed they were headed towards my father’s room. As I watched the man in the armor made a few gestures to which the first hooded person nodded. Suddenly he kicked in my fathers door splintering it with the tremendous force behind his kick. I opened my door fully to go out and try to stop them. It was obvious what they were doing now. They wanted to kill my father.
Yelling my father came awake. Unlike me he slept with a massive hammer at his bedside and, still yelling, began to lay into the 2nd hooded man who had entered the room first. This man was startled by how quickly my father had reacted and was immediately heavily injured by the ensuing hammer blows. The 3rd hooded man was shouting as his friend began to fall. He lunged for my father with daggers in his hand. The first guy took out a staff and was beginning to cast a spell as shown by a glow that radiated around the staff.
I ran at the last guy who was just standing behind the hooded men. The guy in armor was watching with a maniacal grin on his face as if he had the best job ever. I rammed into his back with my shoulder the way a boar tries to gore a man from below. Surprised the heavy armored man fell forward onto the 1st hooded man interrupting his spell casting. Father was pushed back as the 2nd hooded man had managed to avoid a few blows and pull out his long sword. This put my father on the defensive. Apparently they weren’t as weak as it had originally seemed. The armored man was able to turn himself over and with the help of the 3rd man he got me off of him. Now I was upset that these men dared to attack us and so I quickly went to kick the man. It just so happens I aimed really low. The armored guy was now temporarily incapacitated.
Father turned towards me while warding off the blows of the sword wielding 2nd hood “SON STOP THEIR SPELL CASTER BEFORE HE GETS A SPELL OFF!!” His fight wasn’t going so well anymore it seemed as the 2nd hood was pressing him.
I tried to lunge at the 1st hood who was just managing to get himself off the floor when the 3rd hood got in my way. He swung his daggers in a cross pattern to try and lacerate my chest. I just barely avoided it by leaning my upper body back. I countered him by slugging him in the face the moment his daggers passed. Sadly from that position my punch didn’t have much power behind it and it only caused him to flinch. I tried to use this opening to follow through with another attack when I was grabbed from behind. Apparently armor boy was no longer unable to move. He pulled me into a hold cutting off my windpipe. I couldn’t breath well and was struggling to get out of his grip.
Pulling a little tighter man sneered into my ear. “How does it feel to be cornered rabbit?”
I couldn’t answer as I was presently choking. The 3rd hood finally took off his hood to display a bright blood red crystal on his forehead. His name was also displayed. It read “Rorick.” I being chocked was unable to shout at him but memorized the name in case I managed to survive.
The 1st hood took off his as well after finishing a spell that caused both my father and I to become unable to move. I was fine since armor man was holding me up, but my father collapsed onto the floor unable to move. The 2nd hood also removed his as he lay his sword on my father’s neck. All three had red diamonds on their heads. The mage was named Sorin and the swordsman Matt. The armored man threw me on the ground next to my father. The four of them piled into the room and closed the door. The armored man didn’t have a red diamond. The mage cast a small fireball that lit up the room. Now we could clearly see their faces. We knew now that foreigners had attacked us. Three of them were people who had previously killed other natives or their own fellow foreigners. From the way they behaved it was obvious they had done this before.
The armored man stepped closer to us and sneered. “I heard about what you all did to my little brother yesterday afternoon. After he died he came to me ranting and raving about some NPC’s who just didn’t know how to behave around others.” He proceeded to kick us once a piece. “Too bad you all don’t understand why were killing you. Hell you probably couldn’t care less since your not people anyways.”
I stared at him like he was an idiot. In all the heavens and all the hells since when were we not people? And so I said so like an idiot.
He just laughed at this. “Ah well its not like it matters anyways. But since your both about to die I’ll tell you. We, who you NPC’s call foreigners are Players. We are people who come to Versailles via a machine. This place is what’s called a Virtual Reality video game. Its just too bad none of this even makes sense to you all. As far as I’m aware whenever a player says these kind of things to NPC’s all they here is foreigner and magic or something, GAHAHAHA!” He begins to laugh loudly as if it were the funniest thing in the world.
“You Sir are insane. What do you even mean by all that nonsense?!” my father began yelling at the man. “how dare you come into our house and attack –“ He was cut off by a kick to the stomach.
“Shut up you old bastard! I was just getting to that.” He swaggered to the side. “As I said you all got my brother killed yesterday, so now were going to kill you.” He smiled gleefully with the last two words. It was obvious to me at least that the man wasn’t all there. Or maybe this was just how foreigners, or I guess I should call them players, behaved.
I started yelling at the man after hearing his little ultimatum. “By Freya what are you talking about? That man was attacking us after we told him we couldn’t make his weapon for him since we were closing and that we would do so first thing in the morning! He attacked US! Where-“ And I was kicked right in the face. Man if you have ever been kicked in the face it really, really, hurts.
“Enough out of you. But as a concession since we’ll be killing you now I’ll tell you.” He turned to the men behind him then back with a grin on his face. “Its not really because you killed him. That’s just what he deserved. Its because I can’t stand that any besides me killed him even if he won’t be dead for more than four days Versailles time anyways. So good bye now.” He waved his hand. The man with the sword stepped forward while the mage began to recite a spell. I stared at them all with hatred but especially that armored guy. Father turned his head to me and whispered something that even now I remember with stark clarity.
“Son I’m sorry and…I love you.”
The swordsman cut off his head. I screamed as loudly as I could. The pain that would come was nothing compared to this sorrow. I swore at that moment I would slaughter them. I would kill them and any others of their kind who thought we natives were nothing but trash. They would pay.
This oath I took as the fames engulfed our home and ate away at my body.