The computer hummed quietly as it booted up, the screen flickering on as it did.
Very rarely did Lloyd boot up his computer, especially right after he arrived home from school. However, a discussion at school had brought him to the conclusion of getting on as soon as he could.
Both of his friends, Brad and Gene, had been talking about tactics for a game they were both playing when he got to the lunch table. And then came the question that both were happy to answer: “What are you guys talking about?”
“It’s only the best free-to-play mmo game in the country,” smirked Gene. “Arcadia Online. You can do essentially anything in it.”
“Yeah,” Brad agreed. “You could join us, if you want to.”
Of course Lloyd wanted to after looking at details for the game. The art was beautifully crafted, the character customization was endless, and you could practically do anything, like Gene had said.
The game had to download the installer, and then install the game, so he just decided to do his homework in the meantime. He didn’t want to particularly, but he figured he might as well in case he played for a long time.
Finally, the installation completed, and the game was ready to play after a short account creation.
He probably spent at least 15 minutes on character creation with all the tabs he could go through. Height, weight, facial features, even age could be used as an aesthetic feature.
He decided to match his blonde hair and green eyes but lengthen the hair out to his neck. As for clothes, he decided to go with a green tunic and pants. Basic enough for a starter. He also picked a display name, which would be approved by the naming council. Not a surprise, considering what names people tried to get away with. The game was ages 13 and up, but there was still a limit.
Before he could officially play what he supposed would be the tutorial quest line, a backstory cutscene played. Arcadia was once a peaceful country, but then the evil warlord rose to power and sent his legions of monsters out to take over the land. So, the knight’s guild of the main city began training anyone who wanted to go out and fight.
The quest line started from there, with more story developments promised in future quests. Though an icon was pointing his character one way, he went another, following the in-game map instead to the town square where he’d meet his friends.
And there they stood, waiting for him patiently, engaging in another discussion over the public chat.
As he was told previously, Brad’s character was Dakota, a dashing young man with long black hair and brown eyes. Gene’s character was a more intellectual-looking man named Tomomi, sporting glasses and combed, red hair with grey eyes.
He walked over to them and waved. “Hi guys,” he simply greeted in chat.
“Hey!” Dakota excitedly replied back. “Have you finished the tutorial quest yet?”
“No, not really…” Lloyd sheepishly grinned at the screen. “I decided to find you first.”
“That’s fine. We just wanted to get you to join our guild, but you can’t be invited or join one until after the tutorial quest.”
“Err, one problem,” butted in Tomomi. “Our guild already hit its capacity.”
“Already?!” Dakota’s face became shocked at his conclusion. “It was just at 65 a week ago!”
“Recruitment’s been up a lot recently, it seems… and our guild leader is currently on vacation, and he set it up where he can only send invites, if we can even free a spot up.”
“It just keeps getting worse…”
“We can just be friends, right?” Both of them looked at Lloyd.
“Sadly, we couldn’t do a party then,” Dakota had to admit. “It’s a dumb system they won’t fix where you can only party up with people in your guild… and I really, really don’t wanna leave our current guild.”
“It’s fine, really. I’ll just find another guild to join, or wait until you can get an opening in yours. Just add me so we can stay in touch, at least.” Besides, Lloyd noticed, their levels were much higher than his, though he had heard from them that it wasn’t super hard to level up.
“Of course,” came a nod from Tomomi. Dakota agreed, and two friend requests came in and were accepted in a matter of moments.
“Well, we’re off then. Tomomi and I wanted to check out a new dungeon. Good luck with your quest!” His two friends began to leave, and then Dakota stopped for a moment, adding something in the chat. “I hope your name gets approved soon, custom display names are so much easier to type out than the preset.”
It was true, his name was essentially just a random string of letters, though it didn’t matter at this phase. After all, he didn’t even have a class or special skill that the two boys had boasted about. The class was apparently in the tutorial itself, and the special skill was a side quest after a few main quests.
Though it was optional, it was almost mandatory if Lloyd wanted extra points in any of the skills he could obtain. It also had some added bonuses when you got so far in it, but you would unfortunately lose them if you changed the special skill. Lloyd was pretty sure Gene was speaking from experience.
After finishing most of the tutorial quests, picking the mage class after some thought, he left the computer for some while for dinner. He had disconnected, of course, but easily got back in. With a warm blanket and hot tea his mother had offered, he finally prepared to finish the last quest.
Resounding trumpets went off as the “quest complete” screen popped up with several notable prizes were given to him, such as a good chunk of gold, an upgraded staff, and a mage’s cloak in green with gold trim to his liking. He equipped both of them, and headed in the direction the knight NPC had told him to go next, heading towards the southern part of the city.
In that moment’s time, he realized his name had approved as someone called it out in chat.
“Ryuu,” a man named Phoenix said, grabbing his attention. He spun around to meet its voice, a brown-haired guy with brown eyes. His hair was unusually spiky, but he supposed it was an option. From his red armor, Ryuu could only assume he was knight class. A sub-class of warrior, meant for the honorable.
“Can I help you with something?” He replied. Phoenix smiled.
“I was wondering, um, call me crazy, but, I used to help my little sister out a lot when she was a newbie. Now she’s a lot higher up, closer to my level, and doesn’t need my help. So, if you’re not planning on being apart of a guild already, would you join the one I’m in and let me help train you?”
It was an odd circumstance, yes, but Ryuu took it as an opportunity to make a new friend, maybe even a group of new friends. Besides, he only knew the basics of the game. He sure didn’t want to keep relying on his school friends to learn the more advanced parts of the game.
“Sure! Sounds like a lot of fun.”
“Glad to hear.” There was a pause in their conversation, and then Phoenix added on. “Looks like my guild leader isn’t on right now, but let’s friend up for now. He’ll probably be on tomorrow, he just works late a lot of times.”
“Sure thing,” and like that, Ryuu had three friends on his list already, now noticing that Dakota and Tomomi were already offline. It was late, he finally noticed.
“It’s late, I have school tomorrow.” Maybe a little personal, but Phoenix had already admitted to having a younger sister. It was about as personal as it was going to get.
Phoenix nodded. “Good night, then.”
“Good night,” and within a few clicks, he was logged out of the server. Lloyd shut his computer off, finished off the last of his tea, and carried himself and his blanket over to the bed.
Lloyd found himself smiling as he fell asleep, thinking about the possibilities of his newfound love for this game.