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Sailor Vulcan

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« on: June 29, 2016, 08:56:20 PM »
A huge, brightly lit, misty chamber. Sleeping beings lying in transparent capsules along the walls. A glowing network of ephemeral lights floating overhead, and in the center of it were four shining lights: one fiery red, one ocean blue, one rocky brown, and one wispy white. All four of the central lights were surrounding a being of such great psychic power that it's mind was several times the size of its body, which was also very big.

It was almost time. The Nameless One could not keep the other gods in the dark forever. Soon they would know the truth. But hopefully they would find out too late. As long as everything went according to plan...

"Navee. Why are you here?" boomed the Nameless one in a deep telepathic voice.

"I must enter the illusory realm at once!"
said the old imp, standing in the entrance to the misty chamber with a determined gleam in his eyes. "A spy of Malalai's has infiltrated it!"

"I know," said the nameless one. "I let him in."

"What!? Why?" the imp, Navee, was incredulous.

"You know why. So as not to arouse suspicion from the other gods. However, for some reason I do not yet know of, he retains full, unrestricted access to his memories, even within the illusory realm. I trust you are prepared to stop him?"

"I'll do whatever it takes. Are you sure it's a good idea to let anyone else into the illusory realm?" The more people who entered it, the less likely their plan was to succeed.

And if Navee was right about exactly who Malakai had sent into the illusory realm, his beloved young student was in danger.

The Nameless one ignored his question. He had answered it many times before.

"Do not fail," the Nameless one said in his booming telepathic voice.

Sleep came over the old imp, and he began to dream.
------
They say that there are two sides to every story.

The villain glared in frustration at the hero from across the fighting ring. The crowd watched the spectacle in fascination. Everyone in the stands were wearing augmented reality glasses, and so were the two who faced each other in the ring.

"Seriously, why are you doing this? Why do you hate me so much?"

The hero looked confused, then angry. "I won't fall for your tricks. I know who you are, and I know who you serve."

"Really," said the villain, skeptically. "Please enlighten me, because I don't."

"Yes. You do," said the hero. "You just don't remember it right now."

"What?" the villain said incredulously. He had thought, when he had first met that boy that he looked kinda familiar. But the chances that any of what he was saying was true...

"I remember who you are. I know what you did. You WILL face justice!"

For a fleeting second, a strange sense of overwhelming guilt came over the villain. But it happened too quickly, and he assumed it was just his unfounded suspicion/guilt complex acting up again. When he was younger, he was paranoid about being suspected of wrongdoing even when he wasn't doing anything wrong, and he had feared that his fear of being suspected would make him even more suspected, which made him even more afraid. He thought he had mostly quashed that paranoia by now...

"You seem to have no idea what the words 'prior probability' mean," the villain countered, indignantly. "Or maybe you're just crazy. Naturally crazy I mean, rather than making some kind of avoidable mistake that you wouldn't make if you were more educated."

"The final showdown!" said the announcer. "Vincent Black as a Priest of Asyra VERSUS Harris Hertz as a Wizard of Sistarra! 3! 2! 1! Fight!"

Round 1

Harris: 23 Life, 10 mana
Vincent: 21 life, 9 mana


Initiative was rolled automatically. Vincent won the roll.

The hero narrowed his eyes. Why was Hertz being a wizard in this fight? Wouldn't he do better as a warlock? This time it wasn't just a game anymore, after all. Did he really not know? He shook his head. Whatever his nemesis was planning, he would find out in due time.

"I'll go first!" the hero, Vincent said. He pulled a card out of his spellbook, a card binder which was attached to his left arm by a Velcro strap. "I summon a Temple Sentry!"

Vincent mana: 4(-5)

Vincent scanned the creature's card with his strange white armored smartphone, and an animated three-dimensional image of a short guarding knight appeared in front of him, which could only be seen while wearing augmented reality glasses. Or so everyone thought.

Vincent grabbed another card out of his spellbook and scanned it. A face down card appeared over the arena floor.

"And I cast an enchantment on the zone. Your move, Hertz."

Vincent mana: 2(-2)

"I equip myself with a wispwillow amulet," said Harris, scanning the corresponding card with his more normal looking black smartphone. He suddenly felt a strange weight against his shirt, and gasped. He looked down at the amulet, and touched it. It felt warm. What the hell was going on? Was he hallucinating?

Harris mana: 7(-3)

"...That's the end of the round," said Harris, shakily.

Round 2

Harris mana: 15(+7, +1)
Vincent mana: 9(+7)


"I summon Sailfin Hydra!" said Harris, scanning its card. The two-headed hydra took shape out of thin air, landed on the floor with a loud crash, and roared.

"And I equip myself with leather chausses."

He felt it again this time. His pants felt different than before. And on the ground beside him, the pair of blue jeans he had been wearing previously had fallen in a little heap.

The crowd gasped.

Harris had a deep sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach--a wordless apprehension. On some level he just knew that his life, for all intents and purposes, had just become an episode out of a card-game anime.

Without even thinking about it, Harris pressed the "forfeit" button on his smart phone. His hydra, and his pants disappeared, leaving him in only a t-shirt, socks, shoes and underwear. But Vincent's temple sentry did not disappear. No longer bound by pesky rules, the sentry launched itself at Harris, it's blade held high.

"Hey! Listen!" shouted a voice from the audience. A man jumped out of the stands and dashed in front of Harris, and blocked the attack with his forceblade. Harris stared at his rescuer. There was something very familiar about the other man. He looked to be in his mid to late twenties. He had dark hair, tanned skin, an earring in one ear, and a neat goatee on his chin. He had a spellbook binder attached to his right arm, and he was holding a force blade in his left. A strange green armored smart phone was holstered at his waist.

And he had a stupid annoying grin on his face.

"Leave this to me, my young padawan." man, he had ALWAYS wanted to say that!

"Who are you?" Vincent demanded. Harris's heart was beating rapidly in his chest. He wanted to know that too. What the hell was going on here?

"You don't remember me?" said the man with the forceblade.

"No?" said a bewildered Vincent.

The man with the forceblade gave a high-pitched, kind of squeaky cackle. It was rather unnerving coming from a grown man.

"Do you remember me now?"

"Yes."

The two mages stared at each other, waiting for the other to make the first move. No one spoke. The crowd waited with baited breath.

While a fight would have been very narratively satisfying, Harris wasn't stupid. He knew what he had to do.

"911? Hi, I would like to report an attempted assault. I'm at the convention center, and someone just tried to attack me with some crazy supernatural shit during a game. No this isn't a prank, the entire audience saw it, you can ask anyone here if you don't believe me..."
-------
Don't forget to review! I would love to have some feedback from you! What you liked what you didn't like, what you think I could improve, and maybe some predictions for what's going to happen next?
« Last Edit: November 23, 2016, 03:51:10 PM by Sailor Vulcan »
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« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2016, 04:58:11 PM »
The footage of the interrupted final duel of the Gen Con Mage Wars Academy tournament of 2016 was on YouTube now, and the world kept turning as usual...mostly. The majority of people didn't notice anything out of the ordinary, since the majority of people did not play card games. But some did notice, and they were flabbergasted.

Some rather religious people had accused either Harris, Vincent or both of witchcraft.

Intelligence agencies around the world quietly investigated this mysterious game, "Mage Wars" and more and more military personnel began learning how to play it.

Some idiot had the bright idea to "recreate" the Asyran religion depicted in the Mage Wars official storyline, claiming that both christianity and islam were based on it, rather than the other way around.

Mage Wars players on the Arcane Wonders forums had divided into two factions: those who thought it would be really awesome to have REAL magical duels and go to Etheria in real life, and those who thought it would be TERRIBLE.

The rational fiction subreddit had exploded with shock, fear, and excitement about the news. To them, the footage of that interrupted duel, combined with Indianapolis police reports from that day, was unmistakably strong bayesian evidence of...well no one could quite agree on all the specifics. Some of them said that this meant that the world of Etheria was probably real, and so was its magic, just as depicted in the official Mage Wars storyline. Others cried Ocaam's razor and said that they were getting ahead of themselves and jumping to conclusions. After all, all they had actually observed was a video depicting a mage-dueling card game where the spells had become real, and a police report that confirmed it. The police report could be faked after all, and everyone knew that videos could be edited.

The prior probability that a card game depicting a magical duel could become a real magical duel was much lower than the probability that a police report could be faked. But why on Earth anyone would have faked that particular police report was anyone's guess. Maybe it was meant as a joke?

Protests from the moderators that this was off-topic and should wait for the Friday off-topic thread were mostly ignored by everyone.

Somewhere far to the west, a mad scientist stared at their computer screen.

"What."

There was no way the universe really worked like that. Just no way.

He wanted to forget what he saw. But he couldn't. He wouldn't. The evidence wasn't going away.

I notice that I am confused.

The mad scientist pointedly did NOT hit his head against the desk.


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« Last Edit: November 24, 2016, 09:53:20 AM by Sailor Vulcan »
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« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2016, 07:00:07 PM »
After the whole debacle at the Gen Con Mage Wars Academy tournament finals, Harris had found the strangely familiar forcemaster who had rescued him, and demanded an explanation. The man had said that he didn't want to talk about it there.

That was why, one week later,  Harris was now going out to lunch with him at a Mediterranean restaurant back home, accompanied by his (approximately) best friend Jack and Jack's mother Grace. Jack had given Harris a thumbs up and a knowing grin. Harris had rolled his eyes and told Jack that it wasn't a date. Jack and Grace surreptitiously took a seat in a booth nearby, both for safety purposes and because they wanted to eavesdrop. Harris sat down across from the forcemaster who had rescued him, who had been looking bemusedly at him and his friends when they entered.

"Hi," said Harris.

"Hello," said the forcemaster. "My name's Dan Rood."

"Harris Hertz," Harris responded. They shook hands.

"So...what the hell is going on here?"

"Our date," Dan joked.

"You know that's not what I meant," said Harris.

"I know. Are you sure you want to know?"

"Yes. Obviously, otherwise I wouldn't be here."

Dan nodded, gravely. His stupid annoying grin was nowhere to be seen.

"Very well."

Then Harris heard Dan's voice in his head.

Two, one, four, seven, eleven! Fish-tootles in a giant frying pan go home. Unlock!

And Harris remembered.

He remembered Etheria. He remembered Westlock and its culture and history. He remembered his parents and sisters there. He remembered how he and a handful of other Westlockian kids had been tricked into signing a demonic contract in the midst of a roleplaying game. He remembered finding out that the demonic contract was real, and how stupid he had felt. The contract had bound him to become a Warlock of Bael. He remembered becoming a student at the Tower of Night. He remembered rescuing the demon Navee from some of the older students. Back then Navee had been a lowly imp with strange and heretical ideas. He remembered growing closer with Navee over time. He remembered how they had plotted together to conquer and reform Infernia. They were going to liberate its people, both demons and non-demonic beings, from their endless cycle of hatred and pain. But it hadn't gone as planned. And so they had gone in search of the Nameless one, hoping that it could help them...

How had Harris forgotten that much? It wasn't like he had had amnesia up to this point and was now recovering from it. It was more like he had forgotten a word, and that the word had been on the tip of his tongue for such a long time that he had stopped noticing that it was still on the tip of his tongue, until it had completely passed from his conscious mind.

Faster than the eye could blink, Harris' smartphone changed into a strange bright yellow, armored smartphone.

After a while, Harris opened his eyes, and looked at Dan.

"Why are you here, Navee?"

"Pretty much the same reason you are, Fien."

"You were supposed to be looking for trustworthy people to guard the entrance," Harris said.

"There's no point to that now. The Nameless one is probably letting in just about anyone if the other gods pressure it enough."

Harris's eyes widened. "Seriously?"

Dan nodded.

"F***," said Harris. This was not good.

That probably explained why there were so many people trying to emulate the Asyran religion, even though they didn't consciously remember it. Asyra must have been putting more pressure on the Nameless One than the other gods were.

Dan, Navee, had come into this magically simulated world in order to stop any interlopers from getting in the way of their plan. Their plan, of course, was to create a benevolent superintelligent entity that the Nameless one could fuse with, so that its intelligence would dwarf that of the other gods, that their minds would be like insects for the Nameless one to squash if it wished. It was the only way they had been able to think of for mere mortals to truly be able to stand up to the wicked dark god Taranis or Asyra, the misguided goddess of light.

"Have you contacted the Machine Intelligence Research Institute?" Harris asked.

"I'm scheduled for an online chat with them tonight," said Dan.

They stared at each other for a few moments.

"So. Up for a game of Mage Wars Academy?" asked Harris.

Dan's stupid annoying grin returned, this time with his brows furrowed in determination, and Harris felt a warmth in his chest.

"You're on."
« Last Edit: November 24, 2016, 09:54:49 AM by Sailor Vulcan »
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I am Sailor Vulcan! Champion of justice and reason! And yes, I am already aware my uniform is considered flashy, unprofessional, and borderline sexually provocative for my species by most intelligent lifeforms. I did not choose this outfit. Shut up.

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« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2016, 12:22:00 PM »
"I could vanquish you now, and end the illusion."

"But if you did, the souls within would be lost. Genocide is a dark deed. For one such as you to resort to it would lead to fear and doubt in your followers."

"I could do it anyway. The risk you pose is greater."

"You cannot bluff me. I know that you are depending on your chosen 'Hero', so that you do not have to vanquish me yourself. But he will be too late."

"We shall see."

------
Vincent was in a cell. Vincent had been arrested. Vincent Black, Zacharias Shortel Malakai's chosen hero, was a criminal. But he was the hero, and he had tried to bring the villainous Fiennix, Warlock of Bael to justice. And yet it was him, Vincent/Zacharias that was in prison, while the wicked Harris/Fiennix walked free. The injustice of it all rankled him. And then there was that annoying imp who had always followed Fiennix around. He didn't realize that the vile thing would be here as well! He had to stop them! But how?

Later, Vincent witnessed a fight break out between two of the other inmates in the prison cafeteria and tried to break it up before the prison guards arrived. The two inmates who were fighting turned on him then, and began fighting him too. Vincent ducked under their punches and jumped over their kicks, weaving in and out of the chairs and dishes they threw at him until he was close enough to summon a blast of holy light at point blank range. The other inmate who was attacking him stared at Vincent in shock.

The prison guards arrived just in time to see Vincent finish healing the injuries of the two inmates he had defeated. Vincent had already scanned multiple copies of the Mage Wars incantation card, "Heal" with his armored smartphone, but the guards hadn't seen the cards nor the smartphone being used.

When they had seen him healing his fellow prisoners, the guards refused to do anything, leaving Vincent alone, as well as the other two inmates who he had been fighting. When the Warden had heard of what happened and why the guards hadn't detained the fighters, she was furious. What the hell were they trying to pull? She wasn't stupid!

And then she had been shown the footage that had been caught on the security cameras, and her mouth fell open.

"My god," the Warden had whispered. She could see why the guards hadn't done anything. What was their Savior doing in prison, like a common criminal?

Vincent's presence was requested in the Warden's office. Vincent had come to the office, confused, magically exhausted and a bit apprehensive. If the warden tried anything funny, he wasn't sure he could defend himself.

The Warden had thanked him in a rather worshipful tone, humbly apologized for his imprisonment, and offered to try to get him out of prison. She was going to pull some strings so that Vincent could serve the remainder of his community service in a hospital, and if that didn't work or wasn't enough for him, she would break Vincent out herself, consequences be damned.

Vincent knew that he hadn't actually lied about his identity to anyone, hadn't tried to trick or deceive the warden or the guards in any way.  They all believed that he was Jesus Christ, son of God and their savior. It was close enough to the truth anyway. He was Zacharias Shortel, adopted son and chosen hero of the archangel Malakai, who served the goddess Asyra. But Vincent hadn't corrected the assumption because he had needed to get out of prison so he could stop Fiennix's evil plan, and also so he could actually start saving people.

It still felt wrong somehow, like he was manipulating the warden through his own silence. It wasn't fair to the other prisoners either. None of them would have this opportunity. It felt dirty.

And he was distinctly uncomfortable with the warden's reverent attitude towards him. Chosen hero or not he was still a real person and he wasn't perfect!

And yet Malakai's chosen hero had gone along with it all anyway, agreeing to serve the remainder of his community service working in a hospital if the hospital agreed to it. If he wanted to go anywhere else he would be in disguise and followed by a police officer who would be pretending to try to capture him and send him back to prison, just in case anyone looked too deeply.

Forgive me, Asyra.

----
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« Last Edit: November 15, 2016, 10:52:50 AM by Sailor Vulcan »
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« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2016, 02:06:08 PM »
"So, you two knew each other in a past life or something?" asked Jack, teasingly in the car ride back from the restaurant.

"Not exactly," said Harris. He thought for a moment about how to explain it. "Long story short, Etheria, the world depicted in the Mage Wars game franchise, is real, we are living on it, in a magical version of the matrix. Most of us have our memories of Etheria temporarily locked away as a security precaution. I just had mine unlocked."

"Great! So are we going to escape from the matrix now, like that one dude from the movie, what was his name again?"

"Neo. And no. Most people who entered this simulation did so willingly. We are going to run this simulation through to its end." and save the world from evil or misguided gods, in the process. Hopefully.

Grace had been silent this whole time, but now she spoke up.

"Harris, how do you know that those memories are real? Maybe that man was trying to trick you."

"If that were the case, he would probably have to be as powerful as a god himself," said Harris. "You can't just insert two and a half decades of memories into someone's head like that. I have even more memories from my life on Etheria than I do on Earth. And plus, it didn't feel like I had lost the memories per se. I just...hadn't been thinking about them. I hadn't even noticed them. I couldn't think about or notice them, all this time, because the Nameless one's power prevented me from doing so."

"So does this mean you're no longer an atheist, then?" asked Jack.

"Obviously not, since now I have strong evidence that gods do exist. Just to be clear, just because magic is real, that doesn't mean that logic and reason are invalid."

When Harris got home, he knew he should do some chores or work on his homework, but he was a bit overwhelmed by his memories now that he was actually able to think about them. But then with a force of effort he wrenched his attention back to his homework. He was still a college student after all, and if he wanted to help ensure that the plan didn't go wrong, he needed to get his bachelor's degree.

He had promised himself, he had promised Navee, and he had promised the world that he would change things. With all his memories unlocked, he could more clearly imagine the path ahead of him, and what he needed to do to succeed. It didn't intuitively seem like finishing his homework on time would help lead to a better world for everyone, but he knew that it would. If he couldn't stop procrastinating and do what needed to be done now, and keep doing it, for a small short-term task that had low stakes, then he wouldn't be able to do it when the stakes were high and overwhelming either.

Harris got to work.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2016, 08:45:37 AM by Sailor Vulcan »
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I am Sailor Vulcan! Champion of justice and reason! And yes, I am already aware my uniform is considered flashy, unprofessional, and borderline sexually provocative for my species by most intelligent lifeforms. I did not choose this outfit. Shut up.

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« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2016, 07:06:00 AM »
The mad scientist looked at Dan over the video chat like he was an idiot.

"There are seven billion people in the world and counting. You think they all came here willingly?"

"Of course not," said Dan. "Not all of them are from Etheria. New souls can form from inside the simulation. I'm not sure why or how, since they obviously don't have real bodies outside the simulation."

"You said that human souls were first created by the...elemental lords, and that ever since then human souls have been forming automatically whenever a human child is born."

"Well, technically it's not just human souls. It's also orc, elf, goblin, dwarf, centaur, dragon, mer, demon, and angel souls, as well as others. They all have surprisingly similar minds, though."

"...even if I accept the premise that you can use a card game to do magic, your proposed explanation for this whole situation is still complicated and unnecessary. And whether it's true or not, it won't change what needs to be done. I would have tried to construct a superintelligence regardless of whether magic or Etheria existed. So why are you telling me this?"

"Magic is a threat to your operations. There are spells of flame that use no fuel to start except magic, and spells that conceal the casters. Magical traps can be hidden in unlikely places and then revealed when you least expect it. All this can be done without detection, because most people here are not trained to detect or counter magic, and of those who are, very few have access to their magical knowledge and skills. But someone who can use magic can destroy your computers and steal your research, and afterwards you wouldn't know who had done it.

"Is there anything else I should be worried about?" the mad scientist asked. "Threats from outside the simulation, perhaps?"

"Yes. The Nameless one could be killed or incapacitated, the spell that holds this whole simulation together and keeps it running could be messed with by someone who doesn't know what they're doing, or the other gods could find out what's really going on in here and decide to wreck everything. So you should be on the lookout for strange anomalies and bugs in the simulation."

"And if I see any, what can I do about them?"

"Call me immediately so I can try to fix them. Or if you want to fix some of them yourself, I'm willing to teach you how to use mind magic, if possible. It seems likely that someone has hacked the simulation to allow magic to work inside it, but only for those they authorize, and the Nameless one hacked their hack by extending the ability to use magic to those in the simulation that it authorizes. I'm not entirely certain, though. If it were just a regular mind mage, then the Nameless one would have stopped them already, and magic would not still be usable in the simulation. But if it was a god that had hacked the simulation, then the simulation should have ended already."

Stop talking already! a normal person might have thought. The mad scientist did not think that, though, since he was too preoccupied thinking about what Dan was saying. The man's explanations were rather long-winded though, while somehow still being to the point and giving mostly relevant information.

The mad scientist listened, and then he spoke. "What do you think you know, and how do you think you know it? How do you know that the gods would immediately destroy the simulation if they found out what it was for?" He still wasn't sure if the gods he was asking about even existed.

"Because a superintelligence would be a threat to their power," said Dan. "The gods aren't that much smarter than people, otherwise the world would have ended a long time ago. But maybe some of the better gods might not want to kill everyone who was born in the simulation. If that were the case, they might try to hide it from the other gods until they had crafted bodies for everyone who didn't have one. Or at least everyone who they thought deserved one. But doing that would be a huge risk for the gods to take. They might not be that much smarter than people, but they're not stupid."

"Can you show me some magic?" the mad scientist asked.

"Sure." Dan scanned a card with his green armored smartphone, and a second later he had a dancing scimitar floating in the air beside him, carried by his own magic.

It was a no-brainier. The mad scientist was going to learn magic. He wanted others who he trusted to learn too, but Dan told him that it might take some time for the Nameless one to authorize magic use for everyone who would be useful to the plan, and that there was a reason that knowledge of magic needed to be kept as quiet as possible, because of the risk it posed to the plan if enough people knew about and could use magic.

They scheduled to meet in person a couple weeks later for magic lessons.

After the chat, the mad scientist ordered a copy of Mage Wars Arena and the Forcemaster vs Warlord expansion set, with a growing sense of how ridiculous everything had become.

It was as if his life had become an episode of Yugioh. The indignity of living in a world that actually worked like that rankled him.

The universe did not care.


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« Last Edit: July 03, 2016, 08:31:46 PM by Sailor Vulcan »
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I am Sailor Vulcan! Champion of justice and reason! And yes, I am already aware my uniform is considered flashy, unprofessional, and borderline sexually provocative for my species by most intelligent lifeforms. I did not choose this outfit. Shut up.

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Re: Mage Wars: World of Truth and Lies
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2016, 09:28:43 AM »
Well Vulcan. A interesting and engaging story. Love it.
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Re: 5000 PE
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2016, 11:42:00 AM »
Well Vulcan. A interesting and engaging story. Love it.

Thanks! Also if you or anyone thinks of a better title I'd love to hear it. The current title sounds cool but I would prefer a title that was actually more related to the story. I picked the current title, World of Truth and Lies, because I couldn't think of anything better.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2016, 08:28:08 PM by Sailor Vulcan »
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Re: Mage Wars: World of Truth and Lies
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2016, 11:47:10 AM »
Maybe, bridge between two worlds?
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Re: 5000 PE
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2016, 11:51:07 AM »
Maybe, bridge between two worlds?
Except that doesn't quite work since one world exists in a magical simulation being run on the other. Therefore everything in this story is actually happening on Etheria, whether the characters know it or not.


I'm thinking the story takes place in the future, probably a few thousand years after the current official storyline, in a more futuristic Etheria with more advanced magic and technology? I haven't completely decided that, but that looks to be what I'm
angling for. Maybe The story could be called something like: "10,000 PE"? PE meaning Pax Etheria, of course.

Yeah I think I'll change the title to 10,000 PE, and I might change it again if anyone comes up with something better.

EDIT: actually got my math wrong, forgot to take the BPE era into account. So now I'm thinking it's 5000 PE. That way seems more realistic given the pace of magical and technological advancement over the course of Etherian history
« Last Edit: July 03, 2016, 08:27:01 PM by Sailor Vulcan »
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Re: 5,000 PE
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2016, 12:17:29 PM »
I am storing this for my travels! Start seems very good :)
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« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2016, 01:22:33 PM »
A startling thought had occurred to Harris. There were about just as many people inside the simulation as on Etheria outside it. There was no way everyone in Etheria had entered the simulation. Which meant that many souls had originally formed within the simulation itself. None of them had a real body on Etheria to go back to. What happened to those people when they died?

Perhaps bodies could be made for them before the simulation ended?

He pulled his yellow armored smartphone out of his pocket and called Dan.

Harris told his concerns to Dan.

Dan told Harris he had the same concerns, and that things might be even worse than that. They had struck their bargain with the Nameless one, and entered the simulation themselves about a year after. When they entered, the simulation had already progressed billions of years, and yet the gods had not yet found out about what was going on inside the simulation and stopped it. Therefore time inside the simulation moved much faster than outside it. How was the Nameless one making time in the simulation pass so quickly, when it did not have the magic or intelligence to sustain such a high speed on its own?

Harris got the implications. The Nameless one was consuming the psyches of people who died in the simulation to absorb their magic and intelligence in order to keep the simulation running so quickly. Their bargain with the Nameless one protected already existing people who had entered the simulation, but it didn't protect anyone who only existed in the simulation.

Harris smacked his own forehead. He'd been an idiot.

"If it makes you feel any better, I didn't realize it either until last week. And besides, what else could we have done?"

"Maybe find a v'torrak?" asked Harris.

"One v'torrak would not be enough for this. Many v'torrak are rather well defended. Not to mention that hosting the simulation in a drakon's lair is just asking for some adventurer to try to break in."

And they probably had needed a large amount of v'tar anyway to at least get the simulation started in the first place, since people didn't start existing in the simulation until it had progressed about 14 billion years.

Harris sighed. He knew that the Nameless one wasn't truly good or evil. All it really cared about was intelligence, it's multiplication and advancement. If it had to adopt good or evil terminal values in addition to its strange alien fixation on intelligence, it did not care, so long as total intelligence increased.

They would save as many lives as they could. But they couldn't save everyone. Many people would die before the simulation was over. They would truly die, their minds and souls would be lost, and they would never exist again. Of course, none of those people would have even existed in the first place without the simulation, and oblivion was better than what happened to people in Infernia.

It was a small consolation.


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« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2016, 09:19:49 PM »
The strange thing was, the official Mage Wars storyline did not depict recent events in Etherian history, but rather the distant past. Fiennix and Navee--Harris and Dan, had entered the simulation in 5000 PE. The events depicted in the official Mage Wars storyline were from the 1500's, not long before their second industrial revolution.

The first industrial revolution had occurred very early on in Etherian history, following the rise of the new gods, and no one had known as much back then about how to handle magic safely as they did now. Magic in its purest form, v'tar, was essence of the realm of Voltari, which was the realm that existed between realms. Realms were basically just different universes. It was a bit more complicated than that, of course, but that was the basic gist of it. Different realms sometimes had variations in their laws of reality. Because of that, not all realms were possible to travel between safely.

The reason that they even had two industrial revolutions rather than just one, was because of the lack of magic-safety practices during the first one, which led to the Age of Catastrophe, which began when someone unintentionally created a portal to the realm of Infernia.

Leaving that aside, a lot of spells that had been invented during and after their second industrial revolution either required v'tar or was used alongside other spells that required v'tar in a variety of different industries. But most spells which were used in combat depended on mana, which was the same as v'tar but much less concentrated and much easier and safer to use.

Harris had wondered if Arcane Wonders, the designers of the Mage Wars game franchise, had thought of the game on their own with only the inspiration of their own locked memories, or if the Nameless one had been making subtle psionic suggestions. If the latter, he imagined that the Nameless one was still trying to limit the magic that was used in the simulation to spells which were invented before the second industrial revolution, because spells back then tended to not be used much by modern industries that heavily relied on v'tar. And as it happened, a lot of spells invented back then were useful in combat even to the present day. Only allowing spells from before the second industrial revolution meant less of a risk that too many people would remember Etheria and decide to learn magic. It also could be that whoever had hacked the simulation to allow magic-use had been the one to suggest it, but then the Nameless one must have tried to contain the effects of the hack. He would have to call Dan about it later...

Later:

"Harris. Asyra knows."

There was a pause.

"By 'Asyra knows', you mean...?"

"She knows everything. She knows what's going on in the simulation, she knows what the simulation is for, and she's been hacking it."

"Sh**."


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« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2016, 10:19:50 PM »
"Sh**. How do you know?"

"I saw Vincent Black yesterday."

"What?" Vincent Black had gotten arrested In Indianapolis about a month before! What had he been doing all the way out here?

"He was looking for us. Trying to find out what we were up to. Naturally, I read his mind. Sort of. Not exactly."

"Are you sure that was necessary?" Harris asked, uncomfortably.

"Yes. He had gotten his memories and his magical skills unlocked without authorization from the Nameless one. Someone must have enabled him to do that. I figured he was probably a threat to the plan. So I scanned a mind control card and used it on him to make him tell me everything. I don't think that's going to work on him again. He'll probably have a mind shield card scanned whenever he  goes into public places, now. Rest assured that I didn't force him to tell me any information that we didn't need, nor to do anything else, and I lifted the enchantment as soon as I was done interrogating him. It would have been easier if I could just read his mind like I could outside the simulation, but there's no Mage Wars spell card for that."

Harris knew that sometimes the ends did justify the means. Sometimes the prize was worth the price you paid for it. Reforming Infernia and saving countless lives on Etheria was worth the comparatively small cost of invading the mental privacy of one man. It still made him uncomfortable though. The fate of the world sometimes seemed like a distant thing, while the mental privacy of one man was easier to observe and easier to affect.

Scope insensitivity bias, Harris reminded himself.

"And you found out from this that he had been sent here by Asyra to stop us," said Harris. "Why am I not surprised."

"By Malakai technically. But yeah, Asyra is the one who actually knows about the plan and what's going on, and told Vincent about it. Malakai is just the one who sent him here. If Malakai had known, I don't think he would have accepted the risk this simulation poses to his goddess's power, even if that meant disobeying her."

There was a silence after that.

"What are we going to do?"

"Same thing we've already been doing," said Dan. "Same thing we've always done, really. We stick to the plan, and try to keep our old buddy Zach Shortie from meddling."

Harris snorted.

"By the way," said Dan. "Have you played the new Legend of Zelda game?"

"You have a Wii-U?" One could hear the slight jealousy in Harris's voice.

Dan laughed. His cute, lovable, dorky, stupid annoying grin could be heard in that laugh.

"You're welcome to come over and play it some time, if you like."


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« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2016, 04:14:12 PM »
"You are diverting minds and magic away from me, slowing down the flow of time within the illusory realm. How?"

"I will not tell you."

Malakai's chosen hero just had to buy enough time for her to save as many souls as possible, and then end the false realm before it was too late.

She wasn't entirely certain her plan would work, but she had to try.
-----
The summer semester was over, and Harris was at the local game store with one of his online friends, Nemo, who had recently moved back into town. They were demoing Mage Wars Arena and Mage Wars Academy for new players.

"So what was all that at Gen Con?" asked Nemo at one point while they were waiting for more new players to demo.

"It was nothing. Just some crazy rumors going around," said Harris.

"It didn't look like nothing to me," said Nemo.

"Well, the truth is," Harris swallowed. He was going to have to repeat this lie over and over whenever anyone questioned him about this, and hope nobody dug too deep.

"It wasn't really magic. I have, um, superpowers, and using the Mage Wars cards are just a cover so that people dont realize the true nature of my powers. I don't go around in a mask and fight crime, though, because that would be stupid. And my power is limited. It's pretty cool in a variety of circumstances, but it's weak enough that it won't be of much use in most combat situations."

"That galvitar that your boyfriend used looked pretty darn useful in combat."

"Against a gun it would be useless, though," said Harris. "And he's not my boyfriend," he added as an afterthought.

Just then, Dan entered the room. "What's this about a boyfriend?"

Nemo gave Harris a look.

"Hi Dan!" said Harris. "What are you doing here?"

"Checking out the competition. And you."

It took Harris a moment to understand what Dan meant, and when he got it he blushed.

Dan grinned. "I just saw your announcement on Facebook earlier that you were demoing new players. I figured I'd stop by."

"Go off with your beau," said Nemo, grinning mischievously. "Don't worry, I can handle things on my own for a while."

Harris sighed and stood up, and followed Dan out of the game shop. The two of them stood on the sidewalk awkwardly.

"Harris," said Dan. "Fiennix. I..."

"I know what you're about to say," said Harris. "My answer is still the same. Not yet."

"Why? Because you still don't think you're good enough for me? You're plenty good enough! You've proven that time and time again!"

"It's not just that."

"Then what is it?"

"Dan, Navee, please understand. I've been isolated for a very long time. I didn't have anyone other than you outside the simulation. And in the simulation I was still rather isolated for a pretty long time. Even when I had friends, good friends even, there was always a distance between them and me. We lived in different worlds from each other. It was a barrier that no one could ever quite cross. You were the only one who really understood what it's like to be me."

"Fiennix..." Navee laid a comforting hand on his shoulder.

"And I basically friend-zoned my mother and sisters and I don't spend much time with them anymore. As for my father, he's a jack***. So you see, I'm not used to that level of closeness. With anyone. And it would be distracting, because of that."

"I see," said Dan. He was clearly having a very hard time resisting the urge to hug Harris.

"But," said Harris. "When all of this is over. I mean, if I haven't done so by the time all of this is over, I'll go out with you. Not just as a friendly get-together."

Dan gazed intently into Harris' eyes. "You promise?"

Harris gazed back into Dan's eyes.

"I promise."


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« Last Edit: July 03, 2016, 08:32:37 PM by Sailor Vulcan »
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