The characters and plot in this story are copyrighted by the author. However the concept of 'The World' is not. I take no credit for this; the credit belongs to Bandai Entertainment who used the concept in the animation series .Hack//Sign, .Hack//Dusk and .Hack//Liminality. (Pronounced Dot Hack)
We both walked back down the stairs and into one of the main rooms on the bottom floor of Cam's house. We found Ian sitting in one of the armchairs with Hugh on his lap, they had finished their little lovemaking session upstairs and now were both kissing each other passionately as we walked up to them. As we sat down together on the sofa opposite them they stopped and both looked over at us with big grins on their faces. We all sat there for a few moments in silence before it was broken by Ian who looked like he couldn't hold it in anymore,
"So?" He asked.
"So what?" Michael answered as he began to blush.
"So... how was it?" Hugh asked with a big smile on his face.
"It was great!" I answered excitedly as I looked over at Michael, we both sat there staring at each other with glazed over eyes. I loved him so much, I could just sit here and look at him all day and feel at peace with myself. He shuffled along the sofa until he was right next to me and put his head on my shoulders. I put my arm around him and kissed the top of his head, his hair was silky and smelled of shampoo.
"Yeah, it is really something to take your love to the next level where you can express it to each other physically. Especially in this place where you can never be hurt for doing so." Ian said as he wrapped his arms around his lover's waist.
"There's no way I would ever act like this anywhere else, that's what makes this place so great," added Hugh. "It doesn't matter to Cam or Bill though, they show their affection for each other wherever they go," he said with a slight frown on his face.
"Is that a bad thing?" I asked, wondering why he was frowning.
"Oh don't get me wrong," he said quickly. "I think it's great that they can be so open about who they are but there are times when it's best to act discretely or else it can create trouble with those who hate what we are."
I looked over at Michael and remembered what Cam had told me earlier when we were walking together, `since he's always seen with Bill and I, people know he's gay, and will give him a hard time about it.' I could definitely see where Hugh was coming from; there are some situations when it would be best to not let others know about your sexual preferences. I was broken from my thoughts as Ian and Hugh both got up out of their chair,
"Well," Ian said as he got up, "Cam came in before you two came down and told us he is organizing a party, would you like to join us?" He asked as he picked up his sword that was leaning up against the side of his chair.
I knew that when he said party, he meant joining a group of players to roam the fields of `The World' together and fight monsters and other players. The advantage of joining a party is that you have a greater chance of surviving when you fight monsters and other people, the disadvantages is that you raise levels slower because the experience gained from fighting is divided between the party members, and also the treasure found on the expedition must be divided equally between the members. I looked over at Michael and he seemed just as keen to join as I did,
"Sure, we'll join," we both said eagerly. I looked over at the grandfather clock that was in the corner of the room and saw that it was now half past eleven. Wow! Time really flies when you're having fun!
"How long will be out in the fields for?" I asked Ian and Hugh, I didn't want Dad to arrive back from his fishing trip while I was still logged in.
"Based on the trips we've taken before, 3 hours max," Hugh replied as he picked up his staff and they both walked over to the door and began to exit the house. Good, if we're only out for three hours then I've got nothing to worry about.
We followed Ian and Hugh out of Cam's house and down the street to find Cam and Bill standing with another guy talking who had his back to us. He was carrying a massive halberd and looked extremely cute from a distance. As we walked up Cam noticed us and began to walk towards us, as Bill and the other guy turned around to follow him I stopped dead in my tracks.
"What's wrong Jim?" Michael asked worriedly as he saw the shocked expression on my face. Ian and Hugh both turned around and looked at me but all I could do was stare at the other guy who was grinning at me, it was Romero. The last time I had met him he had pointed his halberd at my throat to get my member address and a kiss.
"You," I said as they walked up to us. "What the hell are you doing here?" I asked.
"Well well, hello Articus, so you're the Jim I've heard so much about," he said, the grin never leaving his face for a moment.
"I didn't know you two knew each other," Cam said as he put his hand on Romero's shoulder. "Let me guess, the old stalker trick?" He asked as he looked at Romero with a smile.
"Oh yeah baby," he replied as he looked at Cam. "This guy set my gaydar off as soon as I saw him and since he's so damn cute I decided to taste his tonsils."
I immediately blushed and looked over at Michael, fearing that he would be upset that I kissed this weirdo but he just gave me an encouraging smile.
"Don't worry Jim; I know Romero so I know you wouldn't have had any choice. Besides we hadn't even met at that time so before you ask I'm not upset. Besides," he moved towards me and began to whisper in my ear, "He's right, you are just so damn cute."
I immediately began to blush a deep shade of red, and looked up at Romero who was now laughing.
"I don't think I've ever seen anybody blush as much as you do Jim. Don't worry, now that I know you're someone else's property," he said as he motioned his head towards Michael, "You're strictly look and not touch."
"Well then, now that we've all been introduced how about we go back to Midge Village and have some fun?" Cam asked as he looked around at everyone.
"How do we leave this place?" I asked.
"You just raise your weapon and say `Leave Elysium' while you are standing in the center of the town area, right where we are now," Bill answered.
I raised my staff and did what Bill said and in no time at all I found myself flying through the haze of swirling colors I had passed on my way to Elysium. This time however the doorman didn't talk to me. I saw a bright light ahead and as I flew towards the light I felt a hand grab mine and I looked over to see that Michael was flying next to me. I squeezed his hand and blew him a kiss as we both flew into the light.
I found myself standing in the shop that was used to access Elysium with my five party members standing next to me. The shopkeeper was standing behind the counter with no expression on his face at all. I guess he only cares about those who enter the shop.
"Let's go!" Cam yelled excitedly as he walked towards the door with Bill as they held hands. We all followed them out into the empty street and began to walk in the direction of the chaos gate.
As he watched the group emerge from the shop Dave smiled to himself.
"So, that shop holds the key in finding out where all the faggots disappear to," he said as he turned to the small boy who was standing behind him. "Quickly Adam, run to the chaos gate and find out where they are going, and then report back to me. I'll be at the chaos gate in ten minutes. "
"Where are you going?" The small boy asked as Dave began to walk out of the alley and into the street.
"I'm going to find some `friends' who can help us deal with the faggots, now don't fucking question me! Go!"
The small boy immediately turned and sprinted down the alley. Dave chuckled to himself; he loved the feeling of always being in command. Thanks to his superior swordsmanship nobody dared to go against what he thought and did. Except for the faggots of course but he was about to take care of that...
People were staring at us as we walked down the main street of Midge Village towards the chaos gate. Now I fully understood what Hugh said about Cam and Bill expressing their affection for each other in public. They were walking ahead of us holding hands and the whispers that were following us were deafening. I looked over at Michael who was walking beside me, he didn't seem to notice the whispers, and I guessed that he was used to it. Without even knowing I found my hand slipping into Michaels and he looked at me with a teary expression on his face,
"What?" I asked as he squeezed my hand.
"I can't believe you'd hold my hand in a situation like this," he replied.
"Michael," I replied. "I told you before; I'd tell my secret to millions just to be with you. I love you and I'm not going to let anybody stop me expressing my love for you."
At this the tears began to flow freely from his eyes, "I really don't deserve your love Jim," he said at a tone barely above a whisper.
"What?" I asked, wondering what the hell he was talking about.
"Here we are!" Cam exclaimed, our conversation was over but I could feel those worrying vibes coming from Michael again. What could have happened to him to make him believe he didn't deserve love?
"So where are we going?" Asked Romero who had a bored expression on his face as he walked up behind us.
"Hmmm..., how about Windmill Plains?" Asked Bill who was still holding Cam's hand.
"Sounds good," Ian and Hugh said together.
"OK then let's go," said Romero as he raised his weapon.
I raised my staff and muttered "Windmill Plains." I was lurched forward again and a few moments later found myself standing in another field. This field stretched far and wide as far as I could see and was covered with large mounds. On top of each mound was a windmill, all of the windmills were turning and gave this place a very organized look. As I looked around I could see that a few mounds were larger than all of the others and these had temples on top of them that I guessed were dungeon areas.
"Ok, let's start. The monsters in this field are very high levels and normally appear in the dungeons or around the windmills," Cam said as he began to walk towards the nearest windmill.
"V-very high levels?" I stuttered. "At the moment my character is a very low level, there's no way I'd survive out here."
"Don't worry," said Romero as he walked past me. "That's why we've formed a party, all seven of us on a monster will present some difficulty but we should be ok."
We all walked up the nearest mound and as we reached the top Cam, who everybody automatically looked to as the party leader began to give orders,
"Ok, there is the portal that the monster comes out of over there; all of the melee fighters stand up the front and all of the spell casters stay behind. We'll be relying on you to give us back up in the form of your attack spells and using your potions to heal us."
At these instructions the group divided into two, Cam, Bill, Ian and Romero walked ahead of us while Hugh, Michael and I followed their lead from behind. As we approached the portal it began to glow,
"Here it comes!" Romero yelled with an excited look on his face.
The portal disappeared and the thing that took its place made me step back in fear. It was at least twenty feet tall and about half that wide. It had a huge suit of armor covering its body and a helmet on its head that had a small opening which had two small yellow beads of light shining inside the helmet which were obviously its eyes. In its left hand it held a massive cleaver which it was waving around in anger.
"Let's go!" Cam yelled as he raised his sword and charged at the monster with Bill and Ian following him. Romero kept his distance and was swinging at the monster with his long halberd. As he made contact it let out a massive roar and began to swing his cleaver wildly at Cam and the others who were dancing around him at close range dodging his swings and landing hits with their weapon whenever they saw an opening. I decided to help them out,
"Ice Blast!" I yelled as I pointed the end of my staff at the monster, a blue jet of light shot out of the end of my staff and hit the monster in the chest. My jaw dropped in shock as the hit had absolutely no effect on him.
"It's no use Jim," said Hugh as he pointed his staff with the silver end at the monster. "His armor makes him immune to all cold attacks; you and Michael concentrate on healing the others instead."
I immediately reached into my belt and pulled out two healing potions, just in case I needed to use them quickly.
"Lightning Bolt!" Yelled Hugh, a large bolt of electricity shot out of the end of his staff and hit the monster, causing it to howl in pain. Obviously Hugh specialized in lightning magic and the monster's metal armor made a good conductor. I ran over to Ian, who was on the ground flashing red,
"Shit, he got me!" He yelled as I reached him. I was about to heal him when the monster focused his attention on us and began to run towards us. Somehow I kept my cool and pointed my staff at the ground in front of us, "Arctic Wall!" I yelled and the wall of ice that rose from the ground stopped the monster dead in his tracks. I gave Ian a potion and he healed himself. As I looked over I saw Michael was doing the same for Bill who had obviously taken a hit himself. The wall of ice had now disappeared and I was shocked to see Cam on the shoulder of the monster, he grabbed onto its helmet and thrust his sword into the small opening. The monster let out a howl and fell to the ground. Its body lost all color and it disappeared.
"Well done everyone!" Cam said enthusiastically as we all walked over to him. "Jim that ice wall was a good idea and it saved both your hides!"
"Yeah thanks Jim," Ian said.
"So, there was no treasure and nobody grew a level," Romero said, with a bored expression once again on his face. "Maybe we'll have more luck on the next monst..."
He was interrupted by someone clapping. As I turned around my stomach turned when I saw that it was Dave who was standing about ten feet away from us.
"Well done fags," he said with an evil grin on his face as he continued to clap.
"Dave, what the hell do you want?" Cam asked with a look of intense dislike on his face.
"Oh nothing," he replied as he began to laugh. "Just for you to all die and rot in hell as you deserve to."
I looked around us and my heart sank as I saw around about forty other people surround us. They had obviously surrounded the mound and walked up the sides to make sure we couldn't escape.
"Dave, we don't want to fight," Cam said as he looked at all of Dave's helpers as they walked closer to us all sneering and yelling out things like `faggots' and `fairies'. It looked like there was no way out, but thinking that brought back memories to when I last felt like there was no way out. I turned to Michael,
"Quickly Michael, let's all use your Sprite Ocarina!" I said.
He slowly shook his head, "We can't Jim, it can only transport a maximum of two people."
"Well then Jim, you and Michael get out of here, we'll handle this," Cam said as he raised his weapon.
"No way Cam, I'm not leaving you guys here when you've all been so nice to me and accepted me for what I am, I'm staying. Michael, you go," I said as I raised my staff, ready to fight.
"There's no way I'm leaving," Michael said as he also raised his staff. "After all it is only a game, if we all die then we can just log back in again."
"You may be right about that Michael," Cam said, never taking his eyes off the group of attackers, who were moving in on us slowly. "But what about tomorrow? And the day after that? Can we always just let them win?"
"But what can we do?" Romero asked as he swung his halberd, cutting one of the attackers who came too close in half.
"There's... there's nothing we can do," Cam said in defeat.
"It's just not fair!" I said, tears starting to form in my eyes. "Why does everybody always hate us?"
"That's the way it's always been Jim; humans always hate and fear those who are different. It's part of the human psyche and there's nothing we can do about it," answered Bill.
Suddenly two guys ran at me, they both had large swords and I thought I was finished. Suddenly Ian and Hugh jumped in front of me and slashed them both. They both fell to the ground as their bodies lost all color and their remains sunk into the ground. I looked around and saw that everyone was now attempting to fight off the impossible odds that were now hitting us at full force. But where was Michael? I couldn't see him anywhere. My heart sank as I saw him lying on the ground flashing red as a sorceress with a silver staff was pointing her staff at him, ready to kill him with a final spell.
"Michael!" I screamed as I ran over towards him however as I ran closer Dave stepped in front of me.
"Well, Articus. It's time to pay for what you did, nobody insults me and nobody goes against my will... What the?" He was cut short by Bill who had leapt forward and began attacking him with his wrist blades.
"Quickly, help Michael!" Bill yelled as he kept on swinging at Dave who unfortunately had no problem blocking his attacks with his sword. I looked over and saw the lightning fly out of the end of the sorceress's staff, I didn't even think, I just jumped in front of Michael shielding him from the blast. The last thing I remember was Michael sobbing and holding me as I blacked out...
When I opened my eyes I found myself standing in a large room with no door. I looked around searching for anything to give a clue of how and why I was here. The manual told me that when you are killed in `The World' you are automatically logged out and find yourself sitting at your computer. So why am I here and not sitting at my computer at home?
I nearly jumped out of my skin as I spun around to look at who was talking to me. He looked to be around thirty, and wasn't dressed like a character in `The World'. He was wearing brown dress shoes, long cargo pants and a polo shirt. He had longish blond hair, sparkling blue eyes and was smiling at me as he just stood there.
"Who are you?" I asked.
"I am the creator," he answered.
"Why have you brought me here?"
"I was watching the fight unfold in Windmill Plains and when I saw what you did I was touched by your bravery and love for your boyfriend so I decided to help you, so you can help the whole group. I had your character transported to this room so I could talk to you," he answered, the smile never leaving his face.
"How can you help me?" I asked. "There's no way we can win that battle."
"I have edited your character, when I transport you back to Windmill Plains your character will be at the highest possible level. You will have nearly unlimited mana and have access to the entire tree of ice spells."
"But I only know two spells," said as I looked at the ground.
"Here," he said as he walked up to me and gave me a piece of paper. "This is a list of all of the ice spells with a short description for each one. May I suggest you use the Ice Guardian spell when you return?" He said as the smile on his face widened.
I looked at the paper and read the list of the spells that I could do. Wow! There were heaps to choose from.
"I will now transport you back Jim. Please, help anybody who is being hurt by others as a result of who they are and never let your immense power go to your head. And one last thing, never use your power in front of the Scarlet Knights for they will be suspicious and will want to talk to you about where you got it."
I looked back up from the paper, "why are you doing this?" I asked.
"Because I am just like you, I remember when I was your age I wanted all of the pain and hatred to stop but it never did. And now that I have the chance to help people in the same situation, I can't resist. I choose you for the love you have for Michael, don't let him or the others down. Goodbye Jim," he said as he disappeared.
"Thank you," I whispered as I felt myself being pulled from the room by an unknown force.
I opened my eyes to find myself back in Windmill Plains again. I was lying on the ground and Michael was still holding me as he sobbed into my chest. It seemed that no time had passed since I blacked out after I was hit with the Lightning Bolt; that must have also been the creators doing.
"Michael," I whispered. He looked up at me in shock,
"J-Jim, but how?"
"I'll explain later," I whispered as I got up off the ground and faced the sorceress who was aiming another Lightning Bolt at us.
"Wow! You survived the first one; you must be stronger than I thought fagboy. But don't worry; I'll finish you both off with this one," she said with an evil grin.
I aimed my staff at the ground and yelled "Ice Guardian!" A blue jet of light flew out of the end of my staff and as it hit the ground in front of me a huge cloud of smoke engulfed everything. When the smoke cleared all of our attackers immediately took at step back as they looked at the creature that was standing before them. It had the head of a bear and the body of a man except is entire body was covered by white fur. It was about ten feet tall and its claws on its hands and feet looked like they could slice through steel without much trouble.
"Everyone, come to me!" I yelled and a few seconds later I was surrounded by all six members of our party. Michael took out a red potion and healed himself. Good, no one had died. My guardian turned to me and surprised us all by asking,
"What is your wish master?" Its voice was deep and it exposed its razor sharp teeth as it spoke.
"Protect myself and the six surrounding me," I replied. As soon as I gave my order its eyes glowed blue and it looked around at our attackers.
"Very well," he replied. Suddenly he raised his foot and brought it back down on the sorceress who had hit me with her lightning spell. She never had a chance and was flattened into the ground. After witnessing this, our attackers took a few more steps back and many were beginning to show fear on their faces.
"Quickly, kill the sorcerer that summoned it and it will disappear!" Dave yelled to his group. As soon as he said these words my guardian turned around and picked me up in one of his paws and put me on top of his head.
"Hold onto my fur master," he instructed as he turned his attention to the attackers who were edging closer to us.
"What about the others?" I asked as I looked down at my party who were no longer surrounded by anyone and had moved. They were now watching with their backs to the windmill about thirty feet away.
"They will be safe," it answered. "My first priority is always to protect you."
"Do you have a name?" I asked.
"You can call me Iorori," it replied.
As I looked down I noticed that all of Dave's attackers were now bunched up in a group in front of us, ready to attack us head on. The ones at the front began to charge and were immediately sliced in half by Iorori's claws, their bodies lost all color and their remains sank into the ground. The rest of the group halted their charge when they saw what happened to the first lot.
"Everybody, charge him all at once!" Dave yelled as he raised his sword and began to charge. I grabbed Iorori's fur as he took a deep breath and his lungs filled up with air, "Ice Breath" he mumbled as his head lurched forward and he blew his icy cold breath over the group who were all immediately frozen solid. Iorori gently lifted me off his head and put me back on the ground. He then focused his attention back to the frozen people in front of him, I watched in amazement as he raised his hands and pointed his two index fingers towards them. "Ice Needles," he mumbled and long shards of ice shot out from the ends of his fingers, striking Dave and his friends, shattering their frozen bodies. Once all of our attackers were finished and their remains disappeared he turned to me,
"My work here is done. Summon me if you need me again master," he said as his body slowly began to fade away.
"Ok and Iorori, thanks..."
"No problem," he replied with a smile on his face as he faded away.
As soon as he was gone Michael and the others ran over to me,
"Jim, what the hell just happened?" Cam asked with a mystified expression on his face as he surveyed the battlefield where none of our enemies survived.
I sighed to myself; I've obviously got a lot of explaining to do.