The Ruins of Yorck, Ilsylvania. Day 01.
Fall was setting in on Yorck, much like it had been on earth, but it was far warmer here than it had been in Colorado. Sinnamon—Sinnamon Roll, she corrected herself—guessed it was in the low fifties; t-shirt weather compared to the teens she was growing used to. Fall meant the night would still be freezing and it would only get colder. She added clothes shopping to the ever growing mental list of things she and Weaver would have to do if this world was going to be their home for the foreseeable future.
Sinnamon tugged lightly at Weaver’s arm when they got close to the guildhall. He had seen the cart and started to move towards it, but Sinnamon wanted to check inside the massive tower first.
The first thing Sinnamon noticed about the guildhall was how solid and heavy the doors looked. Even so, they seemed almost eager to open with how easily they responded to her pull.
If the exterior of the building had been an over the top embellishment of the Empire State Building, then the inside took it even further. The walls inside continued the black and gold granite look that the outside had and it reminded Sinnamon of brownies marbled with chocolate chip cookies. A large chandelier hung from the ceiling in the central atrium with several balls of light, that when Sinnamon squinted, could see that they were white crystals.
In the center of the lobby stood a massive violet and blue crystal. At the heart of the stone, a red light pulsed regularly. Dozens of players stood clamoring and two players whom Sinnamon recognized. Sparrow and one of her friends were being flooded by an onslaught of conversation directed at them. Both looked uncomfortable from the attention and Sinnamon wondered what was up. As she got closer, she could see that both of them were covered in dried blood and the boy was cradling his left arm.
Sinnamon tried pushing her way through the crowd but couldn’t get people to budge. When Weaver realized what she was trying to do, he used his size to split the crowd for her. Although she didn’t get up, Sparrow waved at Sinnamon, a look of relief all over her face.
“You two alright?” Sinnamon asked after getting within earshot of them. “Those cuts look like they hurt.”
The boy, whose name appeared as JonJon32110 above his head, answered. “Sure does. Not as much as getting them had.”
“My idiot brother stole aggro from me while we were fighting,” Sparrow said. “He couldn’t kite the goblins and our healer couldn’t put out enough to save him and he died.”
Sinnamon’s mouth dropped. She certainly now understood why everyone was crowding around these two. Jonjon had just made everyone aware of the fact that death wasn’t the end for them. Just like in the game, they would be resurrected and sent back to Caer Siddi when their health bars hit zero.
They couldn’t die. Sinnamon wasn’t even sure how to feel about that. A part of her was afraid to leave the safety of the city walls for fear of dying to one of the many monsters that lay beyond. She knew there wasn’t much immediately in the area of Yorck that could hurt her, this area of the world had been a starter zone for low level players and she was well over that mark. But there were things out there that could kill even a max level player. And the removal of level caps seemed to heavily imply that there were even worse things out there…
No, none of that mattered anymore. They couldn’t die! But by the looks of it, they could still be hurt and the injuries persisted after death. The EMT training in Sinnamon kicked in and she reached into her bag of holding and took out a strip of cloth and bottle of water. She didn’t have any means of making sure either were sterile, but they would have to work. Hopefully their bodies were as resilient to infection as they appeared to be to physical trauma.
Sinnamon moved next to Jonjon, and after explaining what she was going to do, began cleaning his arm. She had to scrub the scrapes along his more wounded arm fairly hard, which elicited several grunts of pain from the Sorcerer. HHis HP dropped by a few points as she scrubbed and he even acquired a new, albeit temporary, bleeding stat. After cleaning away the blood, she determined that his arm wasn’t broken, but he did have a sprained wrist. Not a problem if he didn’t overwork the joint until it healed. Sparrow donated a shirt from her own bag and Sinnamon made a makeshift sling for Jonjon’s arm in lieu of a brace.
The cuts and tears in Jonjon’s robes and undershirt told a different story. It looked like he had been stabbed multiple times. Sparrow had joked that he had looked like a pincushion full of needles from all the arrows he had taken. Sinnamon definitely didn’t have the tools to properly deal with stab wounds, but her worries there turned out to be for naught.
Jonjon lifted his shirt and Sinnamon could see that his wounds had healed fairly well on their own. Several small scars and pink skin were the only indicators that he had even been hurt. If these were the wounds that had killed him, the magic that resurrected them was definitely the answer. Hoping to speed up the process, Sinnamon reached into her bag of holding and pulled out a healing potion.
Item: Vox's Elixir of Healing
Description: A healing potion created by the Vanguardian Alchemist, Vox Allure. It will improve health regeneration by up to 370% for 90 seconds.
Jonjon drank the potion and after waiting out the ninety second duration, Sinnamon noticed that wounds hadn’t changed. Jonjon was still at a quarter of his health. That was odd. It should have worked. She took out another potion and studied the stats again. She definitely hadn’t accidentally grabbed the wrong potion. Why hadn’t healed Jonjon’s injuries?
Prodding the Sorcerer revealed he had received a prompt that said the resurrection process would only heal him to the point where his injuries were no longer life threatening. He would have to heal the rest the old fashioned way, and it seemed like potions of regeneration wouldn’t help. Sinnamon filed that useful bit of information away.
Weaver, who had been silently watching Sinnamon work, finally spoke up. “Do you guys have a proper tank? They should be more than able to keep aggro off two damage dealers and a healer. Though, I wonder if mobs even follow the aggro rules now…”
Weaver trailed off, but Sparrow answered him. “No, it’s just us three. I’ve been wearing medium armor to try and tank since Anna’s not a DPS and I have the highest health.”
“That works at the low levels where stats don’t matter as much, but it won’t work once you break level forty,” Weaver said. “Game difficulty gets much harder and those penalties from wearing anything other than light armor as a Ranger will really mess with your damage output. If you guys need a tank, I’m a Berserker.”
Sparrow’s eyes went wide with excitement, then her face quickly turned questioning. “We won’t be bothering you? You’re both way higher levels than us.”
“I feel like a newb all over again. I wanna learn how to fight and there’s no better way to learn than beating up some low level mobs.” Weaver’s eyes grew distant again for a moment. Suddenly his stats changed, he was no longer level seventy-four, but twenty-four. “Level suppression works the same way it did in the game, which means you’ll get extra bonuses from my levels as a party leader. Shame, though. Looks like I’ll have to go to Caer Siddi to unsuppress.”
Sinnamon looked up when she heard that. “How are we supposed to do that if our Caer Fragments aren’t working.” Sinnamon turned to Jonjon. “You two had to get there to respawn. How did you fix yours?”
“Ours were working fine. We just had to go through the crystal again. Like in the tutorial.”
Sinnamon had forgotten about the tutorial. It had been over a year since she’d done it, but she did remember one of the first quests she had gotten was to link her Caer Fragment to Delphianna’s. Why hadn’t she thought of that?
“Well it is starting to get dark. We should probably attune ourselves and call it a night,” Sinnamon said. “Do you two have a place to stay tonight?”
“Anna has a guild room on the second floor. We’re staying with her,” Sparrow answered. “We should get going, too. Maybe healing magic can fix Jon’s arm.”
“If not, send me a message and I’ll get some supplies to wrap it properly tomorrow.”
Jonjon seemed to be ignoring his bad arm. “Do you guys wanna meet at the western gates tomorrow?”
Weaver answered before Sinnamon could. “How about here at the guildhall? We could probably find a quest or something to take on. Those tend to give more rewards than mob farming with a party.”
The four said their goodbyes and the two siblings left, leaving Sinnamon and Weaver in the atrium by themselves.
Sinnamon looked at the large Caer Fragment before her. She didn’t know how to activate it, but she could thankfully watch other players attune themselves. They held up their Caer Fragments in the direction of the stone and the players seemed to glow before turning into purple balls of light that floated into the crystal. Following their lead, Sinnamon took out her Caer Fragment and held it up to the monolith. She was greeted with a prompt.
It appears you are trying to attune yourself to this Caer Fragment. You have not yet attuned your personal Caer Fragment to your soul. Would you like to attune both now? Yes/No
Attune the Caer fragment to her soul? She wondered if that was such a good idea; literally binding her very soul to a random crystal she had in her inventory. She didn’t get too long to think about the ramifications of soulbinding before another prompt forced itself to the front of her vision.
You have been invited to join a party by W3aver. Would you like to accept it? Yes/No
Sinnamon looked at Weaver and he nodded back at her. Though everyone else seemed to have survived the trip to and from Caer Siddi, Sinnamon still worried about this new magic she had access to and didn’t understand. But with Andrew by her side, she would push past that worry. She tapped yes to join Weaver’s party and then she hit yes to attune her Caer Fragment.
A portal didn’t appear like it had with some of the players who held up their Caer Fragments. Instead, Sinnamon’s body began to glow bright purple and she felt herself being pulled towards the crystal monolith in front of her. She couldn’t resist its pull and she tried to scream or cry out, but no sound escaped her mouth. Panic and anxiety clawed at her mind. The crystal pulled her in faster and she stopped trying to fruitlessly fight it. She let herself relax and Sinnamon was inside the Caer Fragment.
A second later, she was flying through the roof of the guildhall, moving faster and faster through the sky. She had no control over herself, but she saw Gaea’s moon, Luna, quickly approaching. Just how fast was she going?
Sinnamon’s speed slowed as she descended on Luna’s crystalline surface and passed through the mountains and crystal spires that covered the ground. She floated through the ground until she entered a large chamber filled with a dull purple glow that seemed to be coming from everywhere. Sinnamon’s body returned and Weaver stood next to her.
The large cavern was about half the size of a football field and the walls were smooth like finely cut amethyst. The atrium was completely empty except for nine large crystal towers twice the size of the one in Yorck that all stood equally spaced apart from each other in a semicircle.
But probably the most important fact was that there was no air in the room. Sinnamon gasped, or rather tried to gasp, but her lungs didn’t seem to work. She started to panic again, but quickly stopped when the EMT in her told her that she would have died already going this long without air and that there was definitely a magical answer to explain this. The sensation was… uncomfortable to say the least, but Sinnamon forced herself to relax.
She turned to Weaver, who had the same mix of confusion and wonder on his face. He started jumping around the chamber, apparently enjoying the moon’s reduced gravity. His superhuman strength took Weaver into a wall hard and he bounced off it with an inaudible thud that vibrated through the floor beneath Sinnamon’s feet. Weaver flashed Sinnamon a thumbs up when he noticed her looking at him and she couldn’t help but smile back. Not even a few seconds later, the two were chasing each other around the chamber in a game of low-G tag. Weaver won, of course, his enhanced strength and agility allowing him to move effortlessly in the lower gravity while Sinnamon bounced awkwardly and stumbled over herself many times. She vowed that she would get him back.
Weaver tapped her on the shoulder. He was back to level seventy-four and pointed towards the crystal monoliths; it was time to return to Gaea. With their fun over, Sinnamon held up her Caer Fragment and it seemed to glow even brighter than it had the first time she held it up.
Another prompt appeared telling Sinnamon to select her region. The only one that wasn’t greyed out was North Amren. In Annwyn Online, each continent had represented a server. Everyone knew you couldn’t just travel to another server in game, but Sinnamon wondered if that were possible now. There had been an invisible barrier several miles off the coast of North Amren that Sinnamon only knew about because some of the sea monster hunting quests would take players out to sea and Sinnamon had done one or two in the past. Now Sinnamon was wondering what this world’s version of Europe looked like. How would she even get there?
Sinnamon pushed that rabbit hole aside and selected North Amren and the crystal directly to her left flared brightly to life. Another prompt appeared, telling her to select from a list of places she had been. Yet the only place listed was the guildhall at the Ruins of Yorck. Sinnamon was a bit upset that she would have to reattune herself to all of the cities she had visited in the past, but at least she still had access to a fast travel system.
Choosing the Ruins of Yorck caused the pillar in front of Sinnamon to change again. Staring into it, she could see the main lobby of Yorck’s guildhall. Unsure of what to do, she walked towards it. She felt the same pulling sensation and a second later, Sinnamon was back in Yorck’s guildhall with Weaver by her side.
Judging by the fact that many of the same faces were still in the room as when she left, Sinnamon figured that teleportation to and from Caer Siddi was nearly instantaneous. Even so, they had spent a lot of time in the Caer and Sinnamon was beginning to feel tired. She really needed to fall into a bed.
Sinnamon offered to help Weaver push the cart back to the bakery, but he brushed her off. He lifted the entire cart easily off the ground and let it rest on her shoulder.
“Show off!” Sinnamon said and Weaver responded only by flexing his free arm at her.
As they rounded a corner, Weaver bumped into a man carrying a stack of loose sheets of paper. The man fell to the ground, papers flying everywhere. Weaver and his cart remained unharmed.
“I’m sorry,” the man gave Weaver an appraising glance. “I’m honestly not sure how I didn’t see you.”
“I’m the one who should be sorry,” Weaver held out his free hand and lifted the man to his feet.
Sinnamon bent down and picked up his papers. She caught a glance at the words on some of them. They were flyers, referencing a meeting being held tonight by several players trying to figure out how to get home or the attention of whoever brought them here.
The man noticed Sinnamon staring at the papers and took one off the stack she handed back to him and passed it back to her. “You two are more than welcome to come tonight. It’s a small group, but we’re going to meet tonight and again tomorrow night as we spread the word.”
Weaver took a copy from the man. “We have plans tonight, but tomorrow we’ll come check it out. I’m happy to know somebody’s thinking about this stuff.”
“Some of us had plans tonight, too.” The man looked stricken. “I only wanted to log in to collect my bonuses for the week. I have tabletop games with my friends every friday night. I don’t feel like I can do anything else until I get home.”
With that, the man turned and continued handing out flyers to anyone who would take them.
Sinnamon turned to Weaver. “Do you think they’ll do it? Find a way home?”
“I think they’re taking the right first steps,” Weaver answered. “But where do you even begin? Magic wasn’t real. And now it is. I think there’s a lot more we need to catch up on before we’re ready to figure out going home.”
When they made it back to Yentel’s bakery, the older couple led them through the kitchen and down a flight of stairs. The stairwell ended in a wall with a door on either side of the stairway. One was labeled “Gavriel’s Lab” and the other was unmarked. Gavriel opened the latter door.
Inside the room was a large bed with a blue and green comforter thrown on top of it. It sat in the middle of the room with a night stand on either side of it. Boxes and crates were stacked along two of the walls and there was a single candle lighting the room, giving it a dark coziness like a cottage tucked away in the mountains.
“We usually use this room for storing the dry food mix, sorry if it’s a little tight,” Yentel said. “Please make yourselves at home.”
“It’s perfect!” Ashley exclaimed.
Weaver nearly face planted onto the bed, landing with a loud poof from the mattress and a creak from the bed’s frame. Sinnamon noticed that the bed had seemed to grow larger as Weaver had approached it and she had her mouth gaping. “How did you manage that?”
“Would you believe that bed was built for our neighbor’s son when he was a boy?” Yentel asked. “Fortunately our neighbors are enchanters. I am just glad there was enough space for the bed to grow to hold him! Now, you two rest and we will have breakfast tomorrow morning.”
Yentel and Gavriel stepped out of the room, closing the door behind them. Their muffled footsteps and the creaking of the stairway fading quickly. No sooner had the door shut, had Weaver undressed and lay on the bed in nothing but a pair of underpants. He looked up at Sinnamon and laughed when she blushed. She wondered how long she had been staring at him like a schoolgirl staring at her first crush.
“I didn’t forget about earlier,” Weaver said, his expression going playful. “What was that you said? Something about me looking ‘delicious’?” He dragged the word out and Sinnamon felt her face flush.
"You're not going to let me live that down, are you?" She asked, taking her vest and capelet off. She slid into the bed next to him, leaving her clothing in a pile on the ground next to her bag of holding.
Weaver said nothing, instead, he threw his underwear at the wall and licked his fingers. The room went dark after he extinguished the candle with a pinch and Sinnamon let out a yelp as Weaver snarled playfully in the darkness.