Note: This preview chapter has not gone to an editor yet, nor has it had any formatting done to it. I will format cards with tables and potential images at eventual release. Events in the final version may also change from the version below.
A rectangular card, roughly the same size of a playing card, slid out of a slot in Eva’s control panel. Grabbing it, she tossed it to Emy. A black message box appeared in her view. It had gold trim and text, matching the colors she chose during her initial set-up.
You have obtained card #70 – Steal. You currently do not have this card registered, and it has not reached its registered-limit. Would you like to add this to your registered card slots?
Yes / No
She opened her book to the inside cover and placed the card in her first quick access slot. In a flash of gold light, the slot absorbed her card. A row of six squares appeared at the bottom of her vision. They too matched her color scheme. All but the first square was empty. Inside the first was the image of a hand snatching a card from a surprised passerby. It was the same image found on the ‘steal’ card.
“Good,” Eva said. “It looks like you were able to figure out how to add the card to your kit. Allow me to show you how to use it.” She punched a few keys on her keyboard and another card appeared out of the slot infront of her. “This is the ‘produce flame’ card. As you can see, I’m able to add it to my book if I wish.”
An enormous book appeared in the air beside Eva. It flipped open to the page with card number one-hundred and thirty-two on it. She turned to face the book and placed the card in its slot. After a flash of crystal light, the card melted into its slot.
“I have now collected one of the registered card slots but I can no longer use the card unless I remove it from my book.” She tapped the card and tapped a screen that Emy couldn’t see. A moment later, the card floated out of the book and into Eva’s hand. “Now I can add it to my quick access slots.” She repeated her actions and added the card to the front of her book. “Now I can use the card at my leisure.”
“And I have to say the spell’s name to use it, right?” Emy asked.
“Yes, and no. You did remember correctly that you can recite the spell’s name to activate it, but you can also open your book and physically touch the card. If you open your book and touch the card, your book will read its name aloud for you. Allow me to demonstrate.” Eva stretched a hand out with her palm facing up, while she said ‘produce flame’.
A small flame appeared in her palm. She allowed Emy to observe it for a moment before she tossed it against the wall. It crashed against the wall and fizzled out, leaving a small scorch mark.
“Thank you,” Eva replied as she hit a few more buttons on her console. A door made entirely of white light appeared next to Emy. “This doorway will take you to the tutorial area. You can learn more about the world of ‘CQ’ there and collect some basic cards before you enter the larger world. Most of the cards you can acquire there are rank E or less.”
Eva chuckled. “Good luck with your quest” she said as she gestured toward the doorway.
Emy took a step toward the exit but stopped. I wonder. “Eva?”
“Since you placed ‘produce flame’ in your quick access slots, you would need to collect another one if you wanted to add it to your registered slots or free slots, right? Wait. You never showed me how to add something to my free slots.”
Another few keyboard commands produced a duplicate copy of the ‘produce flame’ card. “You are correct. You are unable to remove spell cards from your kit. You can only overwrite them. To add this second copy of ‘produce flame’ to my free slots, I just simply need to open my book and place it there.”
Eva opened the enormous book and flipped to the last few pages. She placed the new card into one of the slots that wasn’t labeled with a number. The same crystal flash of light caused the card to melt into an available slot.
“See? It follows the same process as adding it to your registered slots,” Eva commented.
“Thanks,” Emy said as she grinned and stretched an arm out toward Eva. “Steal!” A purple ball of gassy light surrounded her hand.
“Wait, what?” Eva shouted in surprise as her book illuminated purple.
The ‘produce flame’ card slowly burned away in purple flames, which left her book empty. The light around Emy’s hand faded and clutched between her fingers was the ‘produce flame’ card.
You have obtained card #132 – ‘Produce Flame’. You currently do not have this card registered, and it has not reached its registered-limit. Would you like to add this to your registered card slots?
Yes / No
She flipped her book open and placed the newly stolen card into her second quick access slot. Her hot bar updated to show a small flame icon next to the one for ‘steal’. The box with the steal spell now displayed a timer which reflected the spell’s one-hour cooldown.
“Thanks for everything, Eva.” Emy waved.
“Wait, you can’t take both cards. You only get one.” Eva protested, but it was too late. Emy jumped through the doorway and was gone.
She emerged at the end of the dock, facing the water. The vast ocean expanse was empty of any land masses or ships. Turning around, she discovered a beaten dirt path leading uphill toward what appeared to be a small village. She took one step toward the village before a system message appeared.
You have been offered a quest.
The Collector’s Quest – Complete filling all registered slot cards with their appropriate card.
Registered Slots Filled: 0/250
Rewards: 100 Billion Credits
Do you accept?
Note: This is a mandatory quest and has automatically been accepted.
“Ok. Looks like they’re quests in the game.” Closing the window only caused another to take its place.
Character Name: Emy
Yes / No
Emy clicked yes, and another message appeared. “Seriously? I just want to get going.”
Scanning current card library…
Total cards: 2.
You have been awarded the rank of Fledgling Collector.
Hit Point: 10
Registered Cards to rank up: 0 out of 25
Next Rank: Apprentice Collector
Red and green rectangular bars appeared above her hot bar. They both displayed ‘10/10’ inside.
“Eva never mentioned any of this. She did say that she was just teaching me the rules of the game, which doesn’t exactly mean how to play it. This also explains why the ‘produce flame’ card has damage listed on it. I can probably use it to attack things or defend myself.” Emy continued talking to herself. “I didn’t get the chance to change my character’s appearance, though. Is this one of those games where I’m forced to look like I do in real life?”
She thought of the word ‘options’ and her book popped open from her side. It acted like a projector and displayed a list of options in the air a few inches above its open pages. She read through what was available and sighed. There wasn’t anything allowing her to change what she looked like.
It wasn’t as if she didn’t dislike her physical appearance, but this was a game. It was meant to be an escape from reality, and that was harder to do when you had to stare at yourself in the mirror.
Using her experience playing other virtual reality role-playing games, she then brought up her character sheet. In the center of the projection was a 3D model of herself slowly spinning. She was wearing a simple white t-shirt, bluejeans, and a pair of matte brown shoes. She confirmed this a moment later by looking down at herself.
The character menu had her book listed as her only equipment. There were slots for rings, a necklace, and all the clothing options she could think of. She grimaced slightly when she spotted the shopping cart icon in the upper right. Not loving her current attire, she clicked the shop button.
Her menu changed to that of an online shop. There was a search function and filters on the left-hand side while on the right was displayed a plethora of clothing, all of which was being modeled by a 3D representation of her.
A large red rectangular bar at the top of the shop made her smile. It read ‘Note: All the items in the shop are cosmetic only and do not affect gameplay.’
“Hmm… That does make me happy and Dad did give me some money to play a new game.”
She hesitated for only a moment longer before searching for new attire. Wanting to stick with her rogue theme, she filtered for clothing with dark color schemes. It took her nearly an hour to find all the pieces she wanted. Every time she found something she liked, she would discover something better a few moments later. The amount of options was staggering.
She settled on a pair of dark brown cavalier boots, dark blue trousers, an azure long sleeve shirt and a pair of leather gloves. All of that cost ten dollars and she rounded off her look with an item called the midnight cloak. It cost another fifteen dollars but had some neat features.
The cloak had long sleeves and it draped down just past her knees. It was a dark shade of blue, almost black, and there were three golden clasps on the front that she could use to keep it closed. What made the item unique was its hood and face coverings. Hidden at the back of her neck was a pull out hood she could cover her head with and just under her shirt, connected to the cloak, was a lower face covering she could pull up to cover her mouth and nose.
Once she approved the purchase of the items, there was a flash of golden light on the ground nearby. A cardboard box, sealed with tape, was sitting infront of her. She unsealed the box and pulled out her new clothing.
You have obtained Cavalier Boots, Long Sleeve Shirt, Trousers, and Midnight Cloak. Would you like to equip these items now?
Yes / No
She selected yes and her new clothes vanished from the box, only to reappear on her a second later. Giving herself a once over, she grinned.
“I look bad-ass. So much for saving my credits though.”
With nothing else to do, she finally headed for the village up the path. Wanting to test out her new stamina bar, she tried walking at different speeds. It wasn’t until she progressed from power walking to a jog that the bar started decreasing. It wasn’t much, and if she stopped, the bar refilled at a decent speed. When she ran, however, the bar rapidly decreased and when she was forced to stop due to her exhaustion, the bar refilled at a much slower pace.
“Ok,” she panted. “Looks like it’s affected by how much I push myself. How do I get more stamina? I don’t see an experience bar anywhere or anything mentioning levels.” She shrugged. “Maybe someone in the village can tell me.”
Deciding to jog the rest of the way to the village, she reached it rather quickly. The beaten dirt path turned into a proper cobblestone road once she got close. The village, if you could call it that, consisted only of three buildings, all of which were constructed from a mixture of wood, brick, and stone.
A man was waving at her as she made her final approach.
“Hello there, Collector. Come on into our humble village. Welcome,” the man said.
Scuttling closer, Emy returned his wave and got a better look at the man. He was wearing a plain white shirt and brown pants. Much like her, he had a book strapped to his back. Unlike her, the man was a bit out of shape with unkempt shaggy brown hair and stubble. Overall, he looked harmless, so she introduced herself.
“Hello. My name’s Emy. Who are you?”
“I am Rupert. The shopkeep and mayor of Goldcrest.” Rupert gestured to the surrounding buildings. “What brings you our way, Miss Emy?”
“Uhh… I’m new to the game. This is supposed to be my tutorial, I believe?” she said doubtingly.
“Ahh, yes. All new collectors pass through our area to learn the ins and outs before they make passage for the mainland. We are able to teach you many things. Is there anything in particular you would like to get started with?”
“Yeah. Where can I start collecting more cards?”