FallenOne: I read your blog.
FallenOne caught me the next day working the game on my own. Heath was still off with Brian and I’d logged in to attempt to start figuring out the crafting and trade system in the game. While my favorite was doing the quests and exploring new territories, I knew that my readers would have questions about other parts of the game—how to make armor, how to craft food for your characters to give them the maximum strength, stat improvements and regen possibilities, how to make bags to carry all your virtual shit around while you kill and loot the monsters, etc.
But I hadn’t expected FallenOne to appear twenty minutes after I logged in and send me his blunt, direct message without even a by-your-leave.
I stared at the blinking cursor, suddenly, inexplicably nervous.
FallenOne: This is Mia, right? This isn’t Heath on Mia’s character or something weird like that? Maybe you’re AFK?
I blinked, realizing I’d spent so long staring and processing that I hadn’t responded and he now thought I was AFK—away from keyboard. I shook myself and leaned forward, putting my hands to the keyboard.
Me: You read the whole thing? Heath just told you about the blog last night!
Him: I read fast.
Me: You’re actually a computer, right?
Him: Anyway, I think it’s a really good blog. Better than a lot of those bigger blogs ou there. You should blog more about Dragon Epoch. Those posts are my favorite.
Me: I’ve been blogging for 2 years. That’s a lot of my ranting to read.
Him: *shrug* I enjoyed it.
“Masochist,” I murmured to myself, laughing, and not fully aware of why I was grinning so big that my cheeks were starting to hurt.
Our conversation didn’t last much longer. He had to go to work and I had to finish up a few things before my next class. But he made it a a point of finding us again, in spite of refusing not to give us any promises of regularly grouping up the last time.
In fact, over the next few weeks, I kept finding that FallenOne and I were gaming a lot together when the others weren’t around much. Persephone had a weird ass work schedule and Heath was often out with Brian, probably condo shopping. I, on the other hand was drowning my sorrows with study, writing on my blog or, my favorite, gaming.
And FallenOne, my mysterious young man, seemed to keep the weird hours that I tended to keep. So we started working on side quests that didn’t require an entire group to accomplish. All the while, we enjoyed some fun banter.
Me: I’m one hundred percent certain that the designer of this game is a sexually frustrated pre-pubescent teen.
Him: (after a long pause) What makes you say that?
Me: Just look at it. Every chick has the perfect, and I mean *perfect rack. Firm, bouncy yet not floppy. Large. I bet the guy has never even *touched a female breast.
Him: You never know…
Me: I know I’m right.
Him: So not only are you a brilliant premed student, a witty blogger of all things gametastic, but you also are the resident sexpert who can gauge any man’s sexual experience based on limited knowledge?
I blushed, my cheeks burning. If only he knew he couldn’t be further from the truth.
Me: Anyway, I don’t have a lot more to say about Dragon Epoch yet since I’ve only been playing for a little over a week.
Him: What’s your verdict so far?
Me: It’s pretty decent…
(After a pause)
Me: Who am I kidding? It’s fucking awesome. I really am enjoying this game. Just waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Him: Other shoe? What do you mean?
Me: Just waiting for the game to disappoint me, I guess. It always happens. But it’s only been a week and I have a feeling there’s a lot more of Yondareth to explore.
Him: Yeah there’s a lot more.
Me: How do you know?
Him: Just guessing…maybe it’s wishful thinking.
Me: So how long have you been gaming?
Me: Are you a student?
Him: You can say that.
Me: There you go, being mysterious again.
Him: I like being mysterious. About as much as you enjoy being snarky.
Me: I can summon up lots of snark material on this game for my blog. Maybe I’ll start with the women’s armor and how the boys designing this game really need to get laid or hire a woman to design stuff for them.
Him: There you go talking about sex again.
Him: So…are we going to kill stuff or what?
Me: We have to work on this quest for General What’s-His-Face
Him : *yawn*
Me: Come on, we’re only fifth level. Let’s go pick some pretty yellow daffodils in honor of his lost love!
Him: These quest designers suck.
Me: It’s romantic. General Sylvanwood wants to remember his lost love.
FallenOne and Eloisa make their way out of the city gates with a nod of approval and a thumbs-up from General Sylvanwood. He wishes them well and thanks them for their desire to help him.
“The next meadow over, yonder.” He points the way through the city barricade past the forest line. “In that first clearing. They only grow here.”
Eloisa turns to FallenOne, the fifth level spearman who wears only a loincloth and bears a weapon as tall as he is. He’s a strange looking character with a bald head but a long, snowy beard—a strange sort of ninja Santa Claus figure without the belly like a bowl full of jelly.
Eloisa, on the other hand, is a Spiritual Enchantress, with revealing robes of bright colors and charms and shining, brilliant jewelry crawling up her arms. Her ears might be pointed but she’s far from the cookie-making elf in a tree. She’s more like an ass-kicking version of Galadriel from The Lord of the Rings.
Into the forest they go, combating bats and animated skeletons in their way. As they do so, they start to work together. When FallenOne dies in the third battle against a particularly annoying skeleton, Eloisa runs back to the city gate to meet his ghost so they can recover his things together.
Eventually they make it to clearing in one piece and there are a field of red poppies with only tiny dots of flowers of other colors—purple violets, white daisies. Finding the requisite number of yellow daffodils is challenging while fighting off giant bees—with humanoid heads, no less—and one enraged gardener who chases after them wielding a hoe.
“Look at us,” FallenOne says. “We really are making a good team.”
“Yeah,” Eloisa replies. “High Five, spearman!”
And so it began, their duo adventures together, spending time way too late in the night.
Me: Where were you the other night?
Him: I had a date. Sorry.
Me: Oh, interesting…didn’t know you had a girlfriend.
Him: Not really a girlfriend. Just a friend.
Me (strangely relieved): Ah. Does she play DE?
Him: Nope. No way.
Me: Why “no way”? Would you not associate with a gamer chick or something?
Him: I associate with you, don’t I?
Me: Not the same. We aren’t friends IRL.
Him: It’s the same. I consider you a friend.
Me: But I bet this girl knows your name. You never tell me your name.
Him: You’ve never asked.
Me: You know mine. Quid pro quo, ya know…
Him: Quid pro what?
Me: Tell me your name. Don’t be dense.
Him: I’m naturally dense. I’m male.
Me; Har har. You’ve been reading my blog too much. Ok so…spill.
Him: My name is FallenOne.
Me: You suck.
Him: You wish.
Me: ..|.. (that’s the virtual middle finger in case you didn’t pick it up)
Him: You wound me.
Me: I don’t care.
Him: I just like having that mysterious persona.
Me. I can tell. Someday soon, I’ll pry it out of you.
Him: I might even enjoy that.
Me: Well anyway, we could become IRL friends and it would be awk calling you Fallen all the time. And if you ever come out to California, you could look me and Fragged up. We can show you a good time.
Him: What part of California are you in? North? South?
Me: South. Not far from LA.
Me: You seem surprised. Where are you at?
Him: I’m going to opt for being mysterious again.
Him: Actually I’m getting super tired rt now. It’s 4 a.m. and I’m falling asleep.
He really must have been tired because he at least had revealed to me, despite his earlier evasiveness, that he was in the EST time zone, three hours ahead of mine. So that narrowed his state of residence down to anything from Maine in the north clear down to Florida in the south or as far east as Massachusetts and as far west as Ohio. Oh, hell. That wasn’t narrowing it down at all…
Me: Do you have an early class?
Him: I have to be out the door at 9. This isn’t good.
Me: Drink lots of coffee. Good night!
Things continued on like this. It got harder and harder to pull details out of them, even when I enlisted Heath on my side to help get little hints out. It was slowly becoming my mission to figure him out. When he wasn’t around and the rest of us were, we’d speculate about him.
“Maybe he’s a movie star,” Katya said. “I’ve heard there are famous people who like to play games like these so they can be social while being anonymous. I read an article that Henry Cavill was playing World of Warcraft when his agent called him to tell him he got the part of Superman. He almost didn’t pick up because he was doing a raid!”
I snorted and Heath’s only comment was. “If Fallen looks like Henry Cavill, then I call dibs. I don’t care if he’s straight.”
“Seriously,” Kat continued. “My favorite author blogs about playing WoW but won’t say what character she plays or which server.”
Across from me, Heath shrugged. “Maybe he’s just some sort of weird recluse.”
“He has a girlfriend,” I said.
“Shut up!” Kat practically yelled over our voice chat. “Dudes who play this game don’t have social lives.”
Heath blew out a breath. “Fuck off. I do.”
“You don’t count,” Kat replied. “You date men. You could just get your dates hooked on gaming so you have automatic company and no time conflict.”
I looked at Heath over my monitor and started laughing. Nothing could be further from the truth regarding him and Brian. That shithead (a name I only called him in my head lest I hurt Heath’s feelings) actually poked fun at our gaming hobby. He had zero interest in it and Heath had stopped playing altogether whenever Brian was over—a fact which bugged me even more.
“He’s probably not a movie star on the east coast,” I chimed in. “Maybe a sport figure or—
oh hey, maybe he’s in DC and he works in the government?”
“Maybe he’s President Obama. Do you think the secret service would let him play?”
Heath snorted. “Obama would never play a half-naked monk. I’d guess the Prez would be more of a Bard sort of character, given the pretty speeches he gives.”
“Wonder what Michelle Obama would play?” I asked. “An elf badass something-or-other, named FLOTUS, of course.”
“Well FallenOne’s probably not your president. How would he even have the time to play an MMORPG? So who the heck is he? Someone needs to spark a FallenOne investigation. Heath, are you are man for the job?”
Heath shrugged. “I think he’s just a weird dude who doesn’t like to be social and lies about having a girlfriend.”
The speculation ended there and we agreed that FallenOne would be a temporary mystery. He was fun enough to play with and we all enjoyed his company. And apparently, despite being a “free spirit,” he kept coming back for more.
It wasn’t long before our little group was a regular fixture around which all of us arranged our social lives, such as they were. We still had many mysteries to discover—those in Yondareth, as we leveled up together and those outside. Maybe one of them would be who FallenOne really was.
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