Restart Again

by

Adam Ladner

Volume 1, Chapter 1: Reintegration

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The terribly familiar feeling of weightlessness whipped at my stomach as the darkness around me flashed away, replaced instantly with swirling, disorienting colors and shapes. I clenched my eyes shut, which only worsened the sickness I felt in my gut but offered a small relief from the assault of multi-colored lights. My ears were ringing as the sound of a howling wind raged past, adding to the feeling that I was falling down into an unending void. 

 

Anything is better than that darkness...that void.

 

I shouted something angrily, shaking my head back and forth, but the words were whisked away into the storm. I fought desperately against the assault on my senses as I tumbled headfirst through nothingness.

 

 I’m almost through. Just a few more seconds…

 

My knees braced instinctively to catch myself from a drop I knew was coming. Even through my eyelids, I could tell the flashing was getting brighter, and the screaming storm around me reached a fevered pitch.

 

With a final blinding flash and a small pop, everything changed. I landed on my feet with practiced grace as if I had only fallen a few inches. Opening my eyes, I found myself standing before a massive cobblestone wall. It stood at least two stories high, casting an imposing shadow as it stretched out into the distance on either side of me, curving off out of sight. Merlons stood atop the wall with arrow slits dotting their faces. Immediately to my right stood a large wooden gate guarded by two men holding spears, clad in dull iron armor. A queue, starting at the guards and following a well-worn road out behind me, bustled anxiously.

 

The people in line were as varied as I had ever seen: a pair of tanned, burly men with dark hair and roughspun clothes tapped their feet impatiently behind a hunched, grey-bearded man who seemed to be showing the guards a crystal ball which swirled with smoke and a pulsing purple light. Next in line was a wagon filled with casks, driven by a slim, pale man and pulled by what looked to be a pair of oxen, only with one large, straight horn on the front of their heads. After them came a half dozen women wearing aprons and plain dresses, all carrying baskets of apples on their shoulders; they were followed by a man with furry, vulpine ears pointed up above his head and a bushy grey tail behind him. He pushed a wheelbarrow filled with a strange lavender colored hay.

 

 I sighed heavily, furrowing my brow as I looked up at the bright blue sky above me. Medieval era. Demihumans. Magical items. Temperate climate. Overall, typical high-fantasy fare.

 

“FUCK!” I cursed, too loudly. The group of women nearby jumped and looked concernedly in my direction. One of the guards looked up from the old man, cocking an eyebrow as he observed me.

 

“Oi! Get to the back of the line, or I’ll give you something to yell about!” He shared a laugh with the guard beside him.

 

I rolled my eyes at him. “Get stuffed, loser,” I muttered, not particularly quietly. With an exaggerated turn, I paced towards the back of the line. Many of the people gave me suspicious looks as I passed, though I couldn’t tell if it was due to my outburst or something about me physically. As I reached the back of the line, a few dozen people deep from the main gate, I realized I hadn’t physically taken stock of myself. A quick glance at my vestments confirmed my theory; I definitely did not fit in with the local fashion here.

 

Still dressed the same. At least the rules are consistent, so far. The thought was comforting in a way, though it was still tinged with bitterness. Reflexively, I reached back and pulled the hood of my cloak up over my head. Made from a soft and supple fabric, colored a rich, deep black, and hemmed with quicksilver embroidery, the garment flowed down my back, its end hovering about my calves. Although it was a bright summer-feeling day, I nestled deeper into the cloak, feeling comfortably cool. Enchantments carried over, too. Good to know. If magic is as common as I think it is in this world, I should probably try and stack those as much as possible before I…

 

I shuddered and let the thought fade without completing it. Focus. Take stock. Wallow in your self pity later, I chided myself. Looking down briefly, I was pleased to find the rest of my effects were also intact. A boiled leather chestpiece, dyed a dark blue and chased with the same quicksilver pattern as my cloak. A black bandolier with four silver globes, each about the size of a chicken’s egg, which clinked softly as I ran my hand across them. Slung in the opposite direction across my back, a blue and silver scabbard for a hand-and-a-half sword, currently empty. A black and silver belt with a rather heavy coin purse attached at my hip. I quickly pulled it off my belt to peek inside and was satisfied by the gold and silver coins flashing back at me. My boots, comfortable and broken in with clear signs of use, still seemed—

 

“Oi!” A voice cut through my meandering thoughts of personal inventory. I had apparently been moving forward unconsciously with the rest of the line and was now face to face with the guards at the gate. The man on the left, standing almost equal height with me at over six feet tall, scoffed as I came to my senses. Beneath his helmet I saw he had a badly crooked nose, most likely from being broken too many times. Blonde, greasy hair fell down over his eyes. “Now, what’s a fancy lad like yourself doing out here with the common folk?”

 

I shrugged half-heartedly. “Doesn’t really matter, right? I’m just trying to enter with everybody else.”

 

“Oh, well you see, that’s where you’re wrong, friend.” The guard had a devious twinkle in his eye and sarcasm laced his words. “This gate here’s the Trader’s Gate. Imperial Law says, to pass through the Trader’s Gate, you gotta be a trader.” He looked me up and down with comically overblown movements. “He doesn’t look like much of a trader, does he?”

 

“No, can’t say he does.” Chortled the other guard. He was a short, fat man with a bristling moustache and a vacant expression. “Can’t say he does at all.”

 

I sighed deeply, sensing where the conversation would be headed next. “Gentlemen, I’m sure we can come to some agreement.” I reached down and slowly pulled the coin purse from my belt, fishing through it carefully. “Maybe we can all agree I’ve gone out for a stroll, and my goods have already been delivered inside?” My fingers felt the familiar coins within the pouch, but a realization froze my hand. This isn’t the currency of this world. I don’t even know what an appropriate bribe would be. I settled on two silver coins, drawing them slowly from the bag and handing them to the tall guard.

 

A grin quickly flashed across his face, and I knew I had guessed correctly. He turned the coins in his hand, and after a moment of observation, the grin disappeared as his brow furrowed. “This isn’t Imperial currency...” Squinting, he eyed me more closely. “Where you from, boy?”

 

I smiled pleasantly, hiding my growing disdain as best I could. “Far away from here, friend. Though, I have to say, silver is silver, no? I’m sure a discerning man such as yourself would know where to spend it.”

 

“Aye…” The guard leaned down close to his companion to share a series of whispered words and facial expressions I couldn’t quite read. He handed a coin to the short man, who admired it eagerly with a large, toothy smile. Eventually, the tall guard straightened, a wry grin on his face. “Aye, we could do that. But, it would be well out of our way to do so, and losing valuable time...Well, I’m sure you understand our predicament.”

 

I stood a moment in silence, choking back the bile I felt rising in my throat. Not five minutes in this damned world and I’m already being gouged! “Of course, of course.” I reached into the purse and withdrew two more silver coins, handing one to each of them. “It’s been a pleasure chatting with you, but I really must be going. I have trade affairs to attend to, and people to meet.”

 

The short man laughed stupidly. “Right, right. ‘Spose it’s time for you to head in.” He reached back with the butt of his spear and banged the gate twice. After a short pause, the wicket gate creaked open. “Nice meeting ya.”

 

I nodded silently as I pushed between the two men and headed to the entrance. I will not forget your faces, assholes. “Enjoy yer stay in Yoria!” The tall guard called after me, laughing. I grimaced. Your face, especially.

 

Past the gate, a cramped street extended out in three directions. To my left and right, a narrow road with dozens of stable stalls followed the curve of the wall. Ahead, the main road through the gate ran only forty or fifty feet before making a sharp turn and disappearing behind a slightly askew three story building. The rough cobblestone road was uneven and broken in multiple places. Though I heard the sounds of a large crowd of people, I seemed to be alone at the entrance aside from a young boy sweeping a nearby stall and a single guard sitting disinterestedly on gate duty. Curious, I slowly began to follow the main road towards the noises ahead of me.

 

The buildings that lined the road on either side were crammed together in a haphazard manner, as if they had been constructed on top of one another whenever the need arose. Many were in a state of disrepair with broken windows, tattered shutters, and extremely faded paint. It would seem the city of Yoria is not the bustling metropolis I had hoped it was, I thought to myself in disappointment. I guess I’ll just find a place to sleep, get information on where the real capitol of this place is and leave as soon as- 

 

As I rounded the corner, I was taken aback by the source of the noise: An enormous open air market sprawled out in front of me, filled with thousands of people. Stalls of all shapes and sizes were aligned on what looked like a rough grid made of dark blue marble tiles. Small pop-up stands comprised of a single counter and an awning, wagons unhitched from horses and used as storefronts, and more permanent half-building like fixtures with display cases and lock boxes all commingled together, continuing on as far as I could see into the distance. The market spread all the way up to the city wall to my left, and to my right…

 

My breath hitched in my chest in surprise. As I exited the alleyway into the market proper, I was finally able to see what the tall line of buildings had hidden from me until now. The city expanded for miles in an enormous circle, all seeming to surround an imposing fortress on top of a distant hill. From where I was standing, I could make out lush areas of greenery, sections of lovely multicolored houses, and even a decently sized lake. More of the city was, I assumed, hidden behind the keep at the center. The sight was truly beautiful and not at all what the ramshackle buildings at the entrance had implied. Huh. Never judge a book by its cover, I suppose.

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A note from Adam Ladner

Hi there! I'm Adam, the author of the "Restart Again" series. I started this writing project in the spring of 2019 as a fun creative outlet, and much to my surprise, I actually stuck with it! Fast forward to a year later, and here I am with the first book completely finished, and the second well under way. It's been a great experience, and I'm glad I have a chance to share it now!

I'd never heard of this site until recently, when one of the Amazon reviews for this book suggested I share it here as well. I'm not entirely familiar with how the site works, and whether or not it's frowned upon to just come here to share fully finished products that exist on other sites. With that in mind, I plan to drop a chapter on here every Sunday until the entire book is posted. If you enjoy it, hop over to my website to find the latest news on the project, and a link to the Amazon page where you can buy the eBook/paperback. I hope you enjoy it!


About the author

Adam Ladner

Bio: Hi there. I'm Adam, the author of the "Restart Again" series. I started this writing project in the spring of 2019 as a fun creative outlet, and much to my surprise, I actually stuck with it! Fast forward to a year later, and here I am with the first book completely finished, and the second well under way. It's been a great experience, and I'm glad I have a chance to share it now!

I'd never heard of this site until recently, when one of the Amazon reviews for this book suggested I share it here as well. I'm not entirely familiar with how the site works, and whether or not it's frowned upon to just come here to share fully finished products that exist on other sites. With that in mind, I plan to drop a chapter on here every Sunday and Wednesday until the entire book is posted. If you enjoy it, hop over to my website to find the latest news on the project, and a link to the Amazon page where you can buy the eBook/paperback. I hope you enjoy it!

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