Unexplored - Rise of the Crimson Kingdom: A LitRPG Adventure (Book 0 Unexplored Cycle), page 1
Unexplored: Rise of the Crimson Kingdom
Copyright © 2017
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This is a work of fiction. All characters, names, places and events are the product of the author's imagination or used fictitiously.
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Paul’s hazel eyes gazed through the store’s glass doors. Inside was a carpeted selling space with several glossy, colorful displays featuring various virtual reality and 3D games. Just behind the door floated a hologram that read “Virtuality: The Game Experience.” There was a loud clamor of people behind him, excitedly talking to each other and pointing at many of the different holograms that floated in the large glass windows of the store.
There were many different 3D renderings of various fantasy races. Some over-muscled orcs, minotaurs, gnolls and other male races leered at the players while many exotic females in scant clothing winked and waved at their admirers.
All of these images faded and were replaced by a larger one of a minotaur with an axe in hand and a cute catgirl posing provocatively, winking at the audience over her shoulder. “Unexplored” appeared in an arch in large gold letters above the models. The models smiled and blew kisses at the audience, who gave off another cheer.
This was the reason there was a raucous line of gamers that stretched around the building, in front of the game store. The new VRMMO, Unexplored, was finally being released. For over three years, gamers had been following it from inception, slavering like rabid dogs for news of its progress.
Unexplored touted a grand list of features that put every VRMMO to shame, but that wasn’t what garnered it so much attention. It was the first VRMMO to have an engine installed to take care of one of the most widely anticipated parts of the game: sex between characters. When the producers had shown off its specialty engine at Premier Games Expo, people went wild. The extremely realistic renderings of different fantasy characters in multiple sexual positions became the top videos on gaming news and porn websites.
This got the attention of several groups dedicated to keeping sex out of games and the lives of every citizen. Their protests in front of Mindsplosion Studios, the makers of the game, received national attention and further increased Unexplored’s media exposure. This sparked bigger protests. By the end of that year, almost everyone on the planet knew about the game.
These groups were furious at the media exposure the game got and demanded several restrictions be placed in the game. They hadn’t gotten very far with their demands, but the game’s designers guaranteed there were many safeguards in place to make sure the players were over eighteen.
Paul had been standing in front of the game store for an entire day, waiting for the game’s release. He’d skipped out on a few classes yesterday, just to make sure he was the first person to receive a copy.
Paul dug his phone out of his pocket and activated it. He clicked on Ever Present, his favorite social network site and scanned the page. No new messages. The top message on the page was one his mom sent six months ago, asking where to send his birthday present. She had been busy at work and couldn’t come up for his birthday.
There were a few texts on his phone from people asking if they could borrow his notes from Auditing class. Most were from people who never bothered to show up, the rest were from those who slept in class. He never said no, of course. They were his friends and he enjoyed shooting the breeze with them while they copied down the facts his professor doled out during class. They were always too busy to do anything else, though. He understood. College could be hell.
The last text was from Melissa. She desperately needed those notes.
He quickly deactivated the phone and looked back into the store. His eyes connected with the floating holo that showed the countdown on the game’s release. He counted down the last few seconds to himself.
When the timer reached zero, several game store employees emerged from the back room. All of them looked nervously at the gamers congregated outside of their store. Paul chuckled. He was glad that he wasn’t them right now.
A young woman with disheveled brown hair unlocked the glass doors. They opened and the crowd cheered. The young woman smiled up at Paul then looked at the rest of the line. “Okay, we’re going to let you in a few at a time. Please try to stay orderly while you’re in the store.”
Her words fell on deaf ears as the line of people rushed toward the open doors like bulls trying to get into a breeding pen. They pushed and elbowed each other aside as they charged toward the frightened young woman.
Paul slipped through the doors and passed a number of game store employees that came to help their overwhelmed comrade deal with the anxious tide. He made it to a desk where a bored looking young man stood.
Paul handed the young man his ID, which was scanned and handed back to him.
“Enjoy your game sir,” the game store employee said with as little effort as he could muster.
Paul took the game and quickly left the building. He threw a glance over his shoulder as several game store employees struggled to fight back the excitable crowd. He looked down at the glossy blue box in his hands and chuckled. To think, one piece of software could make people go so crazy.
Paul told himself that he wasn’t going to be like those other gamers. He was going to carefully drive home and take care of all his real life stuff before he jumped into the game. This was before he went fifteen miles per hour over the speed limit and accidentally ran two red lights. He peeled into his apartment parking lot and ran to the door of his apartment.
In almost no time, he was sitting on his bed with the contents of the Unexplored box on it. Inside was a white VR headband that connected your computer to the game and a small instruction card on how to operate the band.
There was another, more controversial component, a little white metal box with black tubes coming out of it. It was called many things, but the most commonly accepted term was “Pleasure Synthesizer.” They emulated sex, captured the player’s ejaculations, and turned them to vapor that was released into the air through a small hole in the side. The Pleasure Synthesizer was responsible for emulating the feel of the sexual encounters in the game.
Paul wanted to set the game up but he stopped himself. He had to make sure all of his real life stuff was done first. He groaned and opened the homework app on his phone. All of his assignments were turned in and he’d already made sure to study for his Auditing test. He’d probably do it one more time, just to make sure he was ready.
His phone had a new voicemail. It was from Melissa. She reiterated how desperately she needed those notes and that she wasn’t able to meet him for coffee this week because of a prior engagement that just came up. He deleted it.
Paul grimaced as he deleted the message. He was always good at getting women to remember things like prior engagements, especially when he asked them to go out for coffee or meet up at the VRcade.
Thoughts and conversations from his past crept into his mind. He saw a frightened young man asking a woman out for coffee. The face of the woman changed, and then again, and again. He d
He pushed the memory from his mind. He had a game to play.
Paul placed the “Pleasure Synthesizer” on his hip, and positioned the tubes around his body. He gingerly placed his member into the last tube and pressed the power button. A little green light came on and all of the tubes squirmed. The one around his member gently squeezed and sent a tingle up Paul’s spine.
Paul put on the VR headband and laid down on his bed.
“Computer, connect me,” he said.
The reality around him faded and was replaced by an undulating tunnel of blue and black. A fleeting feeling shot through him as he fell. He watched the little wiggling lines of the tunnel and spread his limbs out. He loved the feeling of connecting to a VRMMO.
There was a bright flash and he appeared in a small, grey stone room. It was empty save for a desk, behind which was a short, stocky man. The man picked up a silver flagon beside him and drank deeply, leaving behind foamy residue on his nose and bright red beard. Paul grinned. He loved dwarves.
The dwarf tottered up to the room’s newest occupant. He giggled and his bleary blue eyes looked over Paul’s frame. “You’re feckin’ nude man!”
Paul looked down. His unclothed skin was a very light shade of peach and lacked in features. There were no genitals on his crotch. This was the body the game used as a placeholder until you created one.
“Welcome to Unexplored,” the dwarf said, barely able to stand on his two legs, “the place where uh, stuff happens.”
“I would hope stuff happens,” Paul said.
“I can’t remember everything they want me to say.” The dwarf hiccuped and took another deep draw from the silver mug. “This virtual ale is amazing. This crap really screws you up.”
Paul was surprised. If the virtual alcohol was that good, he wondered how good the rest of the world was.
“Are you really drunk or is this an act?”
The dwarf put a finger to his lips. “Shhhhh, if they know I got blitzed in game they’ll can me.”
Paul chuckled. “I won’t tell anybody.”
“Awesome, man you’re…” The dwarf leaned against him. “You’re great. Anyway uh, oh yeah, what do you know about the game?”
“Everything. I’ve been following it’s progress for years.”
“Good, then I won’t have to tell you any of that beginner crap. It’s a big, ever-changing world, blah, blah, it gets old. Anyway, pick your body.”
The dwarf clapped his hands together and a screen appeared. Paul gasped. All of the muscles and facial features were so minutely defined. He scrolled through all of the options. There were your typical fantasy races and then there some that were more exotic, like humanoid dragons and gryphons.
They all looked so great. He loved them all and had a hard time choosing. He was small and lithe. Growing up as a fan of fantasy fiction, he sometimes liked to imagine that he was an actual elf. Happy memories from his past flooded his mind as he chose this race. He fiddled with his physical characteristics, giving himself blond hair, just like he had in real life, and delicate but handsomely angular features.
The character-select screen closed and his frame filled in with thin but toned muscles. His body was hairless and a bit pale, but had a glossy sheen. He took a glance at his member and smirked. If he had a cock like that in real life, he could be a porn star. A red tunic and brown breeches appeared on his body.
Once he was outfitted, the dwarf clapped his hands again and a screen with a bunch of items popped up in front of him.
“You get two.” The dwarf hiccuped. “Choose smartly.”
Paul went through the items and found no weapons. He did see a backpack and a frying pan he really liked. He reached into the screen and physically touched the items. The backpack’s brown leather was coarse and the frying pan was pleasantly cool. He chose them and the backpack appeared on his back with the frying pan inside. The screen vanished.
“Okay, uh,” the dwarf said, “there’s one more important thing.”
“Yeah, pick one of them names you pointy eared folks like so well.”
Paul went through several in his mind until one stuck. It was an elf name he used in a LARP group he was in ages ago.
“Estelar,” Paul said.
The dwarf let out a deep belly laugh. “Nice name.”
“Thanks,” Paul said and looked to the side.
“There is a big inspiring speech I’m supposed to give, but I forgot it. We’re starting you in Caspadel, a large city in the middle of, uh somewhere. We got a launch party going. Go eat, get some ale, and if you’re horny, I think we got some hookers on hire.”
Paul cocked an eyebrow. “Okay.”
“Go get em, tiger. Be a famous adventurer or something. Oh, and don’t drop out of school or you’ll get a crappy job like this.”
A large wooden door appeared in front of Paul. He walked up to it and slowly placed a thin hand on the massive handle. He yanked it open and a flood of white light washed over him.
The light faded and Estelar found himself on a large dirt road. A thumbnail moon hung low and many stars glittered in the dark velvet sky. Crickets chirruped a long and smooth melody. The grassy plain, dotted with a few hills, stretched around him until it kissed the horizon.
A gentle wind caressed his face. He took a deep breath and the fresh air excited his senses. He stretched his muscles and the comforting strain rushed through him. The elf dug his toe into the road and left a little divot. Gritty sand crackled beneath his foot.
The sights, the sounds, the smells, it was all amazing. It was as good, no better, than the reviewers claimed. Estelar craned his head upward and lost himself in the little smoky wisps of cloud scattered across the sky. His consciousness faded into in the nighttime serenity.
There was a sound of someone clearing their throat and the elf spun around. Before him was a stone wall, at least thirty feet in height. A yawning stone arch stretched across the road that led past the wall. On either side, two guards in chainmail stood either side of the arch.
“Good evening to you, sir,” one of the guards said.
“Welcome to the fair city of Caspadel, the crown jewel and seat of the Pianura fiefdom. Would you mind giving us your name?” said the other.
Estelar walked up to the arch and the guards clasped their weapons. The elf froze.
“I am Estelar, son of uh, Frank and Janet.”
“What brings you to our grand city?”
“I…” Estelar tried to think of something romantically fantasyesque to say. “I heard there was a cool party here.”
Estelar nearly bit his tongue. That didn’t sound good at all.
The guards’ eyes went pure white for a second. Estelar recognized this as the server controlling these NPCs processing information.
Their pupils came back.
“Ah, good sir,” one of the guards said, “I see you’ve arrived right on schedule. A party is being held by Duke Fermon in honor of all the new people arriving at our city. Walk down Main Street until you find the Galloping Gryphon. There, you’ll be able to make merry with the other new arrivals to Caspadel. Enjoy your time here, but mind yourself, the city watch always has their eyes open for trouble makers.”
Both guards made a grand gesture toward the gate and Estelar walked through.
The dirt road turned to uneven cobblestone. Large wooden two and three story buildings lined the street. People dressed in drab clothing trudged along the sides of the road while a few bedraggled and emaciated people called out for a spare coin.
Estelar stared at these buildings in awe. He could even see little splinters sticking out of the wooden planks. The elf focused on the few people on the street. He expected to see some popups that gave him some information on the characters, but none came. This was a bit disconcerting, as
He soon found himself beside a massive, four story building with a curved roof and a large stone Gryphon perched atop it. Light from the building spilled onto the street and there was a rabble of people talking inside.
A balding man wearing a brown vest stumbled through the pair of swinging double doors at the entrance and caught himself on Estelar’s shoulders. The elf took a step back and the man fell to his knees.
“You okay?” Estelar said.
“I’m great. There’s a party in there, you should check it out,” the man replied before tottering and falling on his side.
Estelar walked through the swinging doors and was instantly met with the bright lights and the vibrant rattle of conversation. People sat around circular tables excitedly talking among each other and drinking frothing, golden ale from large glass mugs.
He made his way over to the bar and took a seat on a hard wooden stool. A stocky dwarf with a short brown beard wearing a white shirt and suspenders waddled up to him from behind the bar.
“Ale?” The man said in a thick, gravelly voice. “Or would you prefer one of those fruity wines your kind is so fond of?”
Estelar had to think for a second before he remembered that he was an elf. Elves were always known to only sip the finest wines in fantasy.
“My good sir, I am nowhere near the typical fey you get around here,” Estelar said. “I have spent a fair share of my time in the bars across the realm and have developed a preference for fine, strong ale.”
The bartender laughed and slapped the elf on his shoulder, nearly knocking him off the stool. “Well said, elf.”
The bartender poured him a glass of the frothy golden liquid everyone else was drinking and slammed it in front of him. Estelar took a long drink and nearly gagged. Yep, that was ale. Strong, cold, bitter ale. He winced as he swallowed and smiled to the dwarf.
Other author's books:
- Sphiel's Song (A GameLit Virtual Fantasy Adventure)Unexplored - Rise of the Crimson Kingdom: A LitRPG Adventure (Book 0 Unexplored Cycle)Unexplored - Rise of the Crimson KingdomCrisis at Clearwater - A LitRPG Virtual Fantasy Adventure (Book 2 Unexplored Cycle)Unexplored - Into the Wilderwood: A LitRPG Virtual Fantasy Adventure
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