"Here you go. Latte. Careful, they've put nutmeg in it."
"It's hot. Lovely."
"Yeah. Not a fan of the nutmeg."
"No? But it's almost Christmas."
"I know, but I just don't like nutmeg. Makes the coffee taste funny."
"I like it."
"Well, enjoy it. That's your Christmas present."
"I'm kidding. That's not your present. But I actually did get you something."
"You don't need to get me anything."
"What can I say? I love Christmas. Here, open it."
"You shouldn't have."
"Go on, open it."
"Oh, oh wow."
"You don't have it yet, do you?"
"No, this is the new one."
"I wasn't sure. I know that they wrote an eighth book during the summer, but -"
"No, it's perfect. I've not had a chance to read it yet."
"I'm surprised that they've made that many. Did you see the title?"
"Yeah. 'Realms of Valeron volume nine, Abbadon's Fall'. Think it's about us?"
"I doubt it. But maybe they reference us."
"That would be amazing."
"I expect you need a break from everything else you've been reading, anyway. What is it that you're working on now?"
"Chaucer at the moment."
"It's the same Chaucer that I've been reading all year. But I don't mind. After spring, I'll be graduating, and then it's on to my PhD."
"Big time English lit professor, eh?"
"I hope so. Maybe then I'll be able to afford to buy the coffee."
"What, from this shop? You'll need to take out a mortgage to keep getting coffee from a Starbucks."
"Yeah, but who knows where we'll be in another year's time."
"True, true. Did you ever think about playing the game again?"
"Sometimes. At the moment I just don't have much time for it."
"How is it?"
"No, the guild."
"What, all of it?"
"That's a big question. I mean, you know how many members we have."
"I know that it's the biggest in the game now. A few hundred?"
"As of yesterday, over two thousand."
"It's been over a year, Gunnar. Taking down the secret boss put us on the map."
"How do you keep it all under control?"
"I don't. Not by myself. I do what I can, but everyone else helps out too."
"Yeah. Like Aria, he manages the PvP activities, and runs the tournaments."
"I heard about that. He's competing on a national level, isn't he?"
"Yeah. Came second in the national tournament back in summer, over in London."
"One of the biggest. I mean, I don't generally follow e-sports and all that, but I know that gaming news across the internet reports on it pretty intensively."
"He must have been overjoyed."
"I'm sure the cash prize helped."
"A lot of money?"
"A few thousand. Enough to help him out with all the legal costs."
"I remember you telling me about those. How are things going with that?"
"Better now. Now that he's a legal guardian."
"I still wish that Sycorax had told us about that. About his mother and the drinking and all."
"I don't think he wanted to. Think he just wanted to play the game to get away from all that."
"I guess. Still, I'm glad Aria got legal guardianship of him."
"It's not finalised yet. It'll take another year. But I'm glad."
"Me too. Have you met Biggie yet?"
"Since he moved?"
"I've not had the chance."
"He invited me out for a drink. I wanted to take him up on it, but I had an exam that day."
"I keep meaning to. I'd have tried to make it sometime this month, but I think they're in Rome just now."
"Or Venice. I'm not sure."
"They do know that they have to be back before March, right?"
"What, for their wedding? I doubt that they'd forget that."
"Yeah, but they've barely put any time into planning it."
"I wouldn't worry about it. It's Exra, remember. Do you really think she'd leave anything unaccounted for?"
"You have a point there."
"Got your invitation?"
"Yep. It'll be good to see them both."
"As long as it's not when you have an exam."
"I'll be able to make it, Roka. Wouldn't miss it for the world."
"Yeah. It's hard to believe it's been over a year since we did it."
"You're still very proud of that."
"Of course. The first to do it in the game."
"But other guilds have done it since."
"Sure. At least thirty other groups have found and taken him down. But that doesn't matter. What matters is that we were the first. All of us. You too."
"Yeah. It was a good time."
"Do you ever think about Brakka?"
"Oh. You don't know?"
"Are you going to tell me?"
"I shouldn't. Exra swore me to secrecy."
"Secret Games Master stuff?"
"After she filed the report on him, they launched a massive investigation. It didn't take long before they identified the hacker in the guild. Turned out that the guy he was paying was the same chap who played the buffalo who attacked us with his other guild-mates way back then. Seems that he was one of the biggest hackers in the game, was actually a 17 year old kid in Canada. He was making quite a good living selling hacks, gear and gold in exchange for real-world money."
"So what happened?"
"They banned him, and suspended Brakka's subscription for six months."
"Is that all? I figured it'd be more severe."
"I don't mind. After all, he's one of our best raid organiser."
"Ah, yeah. I've been waiting to tell you this. Break the news to you."
"Are you joking?"
"Oh man, you're going to love this."
"He's part of the guild now?"
"Well, after he was banned, his guild dissolved. During that time, a whole bunch of his former guildmates joined the Loser's Legion. At first he didn't want to, but when he realised that we had become one of the strongest guilds in the game, he came to me directly and asked."
"And you accepted?"
"Of course. I mean, we debated it for a while first, took a vote. But he's really proved himself. He's still very, very competitive. Likes to win. That helps keep our raid teams strong."
"I... I just... wow."
"Bit of a surprise, eh?"
"You guys just keep throwing surprises at me. That one's almost the biggest one since, urhm..."
"Since Biggie and Exra's wedding invitation?"
"Yeah. Yeah, pretty much."
"How's your coffee?"
"The nutmeg is very strong. But it's good."
"Are you sure that you wouldn't want to come back and play again?"
"Maybe. I don't know."
"You know that there's an expansion coming out next summer?"
"Yeah. Big one too. Whole new island to explore. Nevor-something."
"Wait, wait. Nevornia? They're putting Nevornia into the game?"
"Roka, that's the lost continent. The one that was sunk beneath the ocean waves in the middle of the second age by the Dragon Emperor."
"Guess that explains the title of the expansion. 'Rise of the Dragon God'. Sure you don't want to join us for it?"
"That sounds amazing. But, I don't know. I have my degree to think about."
"Yeah. You should put that first."
"I know. Yeah."
"Yeah. Priorities. Real life comes first."
"True. I just worry that it won't wait."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, it's an MMORPG. They don't stay still."
"I don't understand."
"It's like, normal video games stay the same. You can plug them in and go back to them any time. It's the same world that you explore each time, like reading a book or watching a movie. Each time you experience it, it is the same journey."
"But games like Realms Of Valeron are different."
"Yes, they change. They shift over time."
"That's because the game is only half of the experience. The rest is everyone who plays it. Like with us. Half our adventure was taking down Abbadon, the other half was dealing with Brakka."
"Kind of like that, yes. And because of that, the games have a limited lifespan."
"You're worried that one day, Realms Of Valeron will die out?"
"I guess that's right. Even the world's most popular online games don't last forever."
"Exactly. I guess that's what worries me. That I'll never be able to bring it with me."
"No. No, that's not right. You take the most important part of all with you."
"Yeah. You have your memories. That's the most important thing."
"Memories of all the times we've spent together?"
"The good times and the bad."
"You carry them with you forever.."
"And they made us friends."
"That's the most important thing."
"I don't know about you, but I'll never forget those."
"Finish your coffee. I'll get you another one."
Welcome to the next chapter of "Realms of Valeron". A new chapter twice each week!
It was the biggest MMORPG ever created, and took the world by storm. With billions of players from every corner of the planet, 'Realms of Valeron' allowed anybody to interact with one another within the gloriously realized online world.
But for Roka, a young healer, it was more than that. It was a gateway to make friends. Friends like Exra, the hyperactive rabbit rogue; Gunnar the loyal buffalo, Sycorax the maniacal warlock, and many more.
What adventures lurk within the game? In a world full of quests and dangers, the truest and greatest loot is yet to be discovered. Bound together by the oaths of their guild, they would face brutal trials, savage enemies, and more than a few bugs that the game's play-testers really should have caught before release... But this is no trite story of players trapped inside a video game! Our heroes can turn off the game and leave at any time. But why would they, or any of us, ever want to leave when you have friends like these?
Realms of Valeron is a comedy fantasy, part sit-com and part epic adventure, which explores the bonds of friendships in a digital age.
Look here if you would like a story commission of your very own! - https://www.furaffinity.net/view/30458500/