October 17, 1999
11 o'clock, time to go home. It never seemed to come soon enough for Michael as he slaved away, tied to a checkstand, forced to coddle customer after customer. There were worse jobs than working at Safeway he was sure. Though after about the fifteenth time something wouldn't scan and the customer said "If it doesn't scan it's free, right?" he was ready to dig ditches rather than deal with another customer's "insightfulness." All he really wanted to do was get home, plop down in front of his computer, and log on to his favorite MUD, Medievia. Actually, it was more than his favorite MUD, more even than his favorite game, playing Medievia was his absolute favorite thing in the world to do. It seemed as though more and more of his free time was devoted to mudding. Often he would log on and become so engrossed in the game that he would lose track of several hours, frequently forgetting such basic essentials as food, sleep, or even bathing, which really didn't go over well with his image-obsessed manager at the store.
Lately he had been playing so much that the line between Medievia and reality had begun to blur. During the times when he actually did sleep, he often dreamed of scrolling lines of text and battling various mobs. At work people would call him by his name and he wouldn't respond, expecting them to instead call him by the name of his Med character. Real life had become nothing more than the dull, boring period in-between excursions into the realm of Medievia.
Michael clocked out, left the store, and drove home, visions of Medievia Guardsmen and dragons already dancing around inside his head. He quickly unlocked the front door and dashed into his room, flipped on the computer and waited impatiently for it to boot up. By the time the login screen appeared he was already itching to go into battle. Michael's character name was Oberon, a level 26 cleric on which he had logged nearly 300 hours of playing time. Oberon was a solitary character, never joining a clan, preferring rather to spend long periods of time killing mobs alone. Medievia was less about socialization for Michael and more about gaining xp and becoming a hero, his ultimate goal. Level 26 was known affectionately on Medievia as "hell level" because of the exorbitant amount of experience points it took to reach level 27.
Michael used the showtown command to determine which clantown had mobs close enough to his level for him to safely run the zone by himself, found one to his liking, and portalled to it. It felt good to him to be slipping back into his comfortable experiencing gaining routine. Kill, rest, kill, rest, over and over. Michael felt a surge of elation as he watched his "experience to next level" counter rapidly diminish. He fell into a trance-like state, overwhelmed by the sheer enjoyment he received from killing mob after mob.
It was the fact that he kept fumbling when casting spells that brought him out of his trance. Michael checked his stats and confirmed his suspicion that his vitality had fallen dangerously low. Sleeping was one of the best ways to regenerate that lost vitality, and Michael chose to put Oberon to sleep so that he himself might take a break as well. Glancing at the clock on his PC he was surprised to find that it was nearly 7 a.m. and he had been playing for nearly 8 hours. Seeing the time he also began to realize just how tired he had become as well, deciding that a change of scenery might serve to wake him up, Michael had Oberon enter the portal back to Medievia city, his traditional jumping-off point for all his excursions. Michael was a creature of habit and insisted on always starting a journey from Medievia city.
Remembering that Oberon's vitality was low, Michael put him to sleep after he had entered the portal. Knowing that he had 3 minutes to kill, Michael decided that it wouldn't hurt to rest his eyes for a bit, in fact it would probably serve to make him more alert when he reached his next zone. He closed his eyes, visions of scrolling text dancing behind his eyelids and slowly fading into quiet oblivion.
Michael awoke in a dark room, in the dimness he could barely make out the form of two giant monoliths of what appeared to be obsidian covered in some cryptic script forming a giant arch. Between the monoliths stood a shadowy mirror, and, though he was sure it was some kind of trick of the light, it appeared that the mirror's surface was actually draining the light from the room, causing the deep shadows.
Michael shook his head to try and remove the last remnants of sleep. He blinked continually until his eyes slowly adjusted to the low light. Where was he? The last thing he remembered was falling asleep at his computer. So he should be in his room, but yet here he was in this dark chamber surrounded by nothing he recognized.
"This must be a dream," he said quietly to himself. "So I'll just wake up." Michael had always had the ability to wake himself from any dream, which had come in handy on any number of occasions. But, try as he might to wake himself up, he found that he could not.
Michael forced back the growing dread he felt. Ordering himself to stay calm he surveyed his surroundings once again. The two giant figures of stone still stood in the room with him. This time he examined them more closely. They were covered in some kind of ancient writing which he could not begin to comprehend. Looking into the surface of the shadowy mirror he noticed silhouetted figures undulating beneath the surface, the movement startled him at first, but as he watched he could discern the shapes of people and other recognizable objects. He stepped forward to brush his fingers across the glass, but leapt back with surprise when his fingers seemed to sink into the surface. Thinking he had been mistaken, he again ventured forward to place his hand upon the surface of the mirror, and once again his fingers disappeared beneath it's smoothness.
"This is all so familiar to me," he thought to himself , "Why? This mirror isn't a mirror at all, it's more of a gateway, or a doorway, or a portal....."
Suddenly, he was overcome with the realization of what had really happened to him..
"This is a portal....." he said aloud. "This is a shadowy portal, exactly like the room description on Med."
"Oh my god, I'm IN Medievia."
Several minutes later, after first the overwhelming dread and then the excitement had passed, Michael noticed sunlight streaming in through an exit to the west. He passed through the exit and into the bright sunlight. When his eyes finally adjusted he saw that he was in the middle of a large open area, just south of a large staircase leading up to the most impressive sight of Michael's young life. The enormous golden spires of Castle Medievia towered above him, completely dwarfing the assembled throng filling the courtyard.
The gurgling sound of running water finally distracted him from his trance-like admiration of the castle. Searching for the source of the sound he discovered a fountain bubbling crystal-clear water and two waist-high walls built of stone running from north to south down the middle of the courtyard. Michael walked up to the nearest of these two walls and peered over. A great river, some 15 feet across, ran between them.
The courtyard was filled with a great number of adventurers, each of which was easily discernible by class. A burly warrior brandishing a battle axe and covered in animal skins shoved his way past Michael, nearly knocking him to the ground. From the corner of his eye he noticed a thief sneak up behind a Medievia Guardsman and place a dagger into his back, resulting in a strange gurgling sound, a lot of blood, and a corpse. He watched as the thief quickly stripped the corpse of its sword and breastplate and disappeared into the shadows. To his right he saw a man dressed in the garb of a mage recite a phrase which Michael could not hear, he watched as the man's feet rose up off the ground and he calmly floated across the river to the other side.
Michael turned from his examination of his surroundings and was surprised to find that he himself was clothed in the distinctive uniform of a healer, from the staff strapped to his back to the glowing holy symbol clutched in his hand. He smiled as the revelation came to him, he was Oberon. He had become the living embodiment of the character he had worked so hard to build.
Michael knew that Oberon had several million gold pieces in the bank, having put it there himself. So he turned south on main street and headed there. He reached the large stone building and entered the door. The powerful-looking guards in the corners eyed him suspiciously, Michael wondered if some vestige of his real-world existence might still exist, and if so, whether or not these guards saw it. In front of the mithril vault door stood a semi-circular counter behind which sat a very attractive young woman. A small sign detailing banking procedures was nailed to the front of the counter. Michael walked up to the counter.
"I'd like to withdraw 100,000 gold pieces please." Michael said.
"Sure," said the young woman. "What.s the name on the account?"
"Oberon." He replied.
"Ok Oberon, what.s the password on your account?" she asked.
"Um....password?" Michael was dumbfounded, he hadn't expected this, what could it be?
"Yes, the password you gave us when you opened your account the day you entered Medievia."
"The day I entered Medievia.....Oh, you must mean my character password!"
"Character password?" she said. "What do you mean character?"
"Um, nothing, my password is Titania."
"All right, that's what we were looking for." The young lady snapped her fingers and one of the burly guards hauled open the door of the vault. The clerk stepped inside and emerged minutes later with a bag of gold coins, which she deposited into Michael's outstretched hands.
Michael thanked the clerk and set out to see the sights of Medievia city. He wandered around, marveling at the stacks of letters in the Post Office, the endless rows of lockers in the U-Store-It facility, and the numerous dragons flying above. He walked the streets of the city for several hours, and finally, as dusk set in, he entered the very average-looking Daddy O's bar and Grille. He glanced at the Jukebox and wondered how on earth they could possibly use it without electricity, passed by the shuffleboard table and sat down on an empty stool at the bar. Michael ordered a bottle of beer, paid 22 gold and sat back to relax and contemplate his situation.
Several hours later, after the sun had set and Michael had been "contemplated" one too many beers, he staggered out of Daddy O's and into the street. Though he was inebriated, he remembered that the nearest place he could camp was to the west, out past the graveyard. Michael stumbled his way down the street and out onto the road leading from the city. Once there, he noticed Alfred, the unemployed vagrant, cooking his dinner over an open fire.
"Howdy friend," said Alfred.
All Michael could do in his inebriated state was nod in reply.
"Well, paid a visit to Daddy O's, didn't we?" Alfred asked.
Michael nodded in agreement.
"Well, if you want you can curl up here next to my fire and sleep. I don't get company out here very often."
Michael nodded a third time and curled up next to the old vagrant' fire. As he drifted off to sleep his mind was filled with visions of his new life here in Medievia, and all the future adventures he would have as Oberon.
Alfred watched the young cleric as he drifted off to sleep, and couldn't help but notice the huge smile on the younger man's face."
"Must be having some nice dreams." Alfred said, and he too drifted off to sleep.