Chapter 1 – The Forest of Origins (Marigold Snapdragon Lv 1)
Alex awoke in a forest on a bed of leaf litter. It wasn’t uncomfortable but the thought of the myriad of insects that might live in it quickly drove her to her feet. The forest wasn’t somewhere she was familiar with but she could feel something about it tug at her memory. The most clearly obvious thing that was out of place was the text ‘Marigold Snapdragon Lv.1’ floating in the air above her head. It followed her when she moved and had no substance when she put her hand through it, so she shrugged it off as some kind of identification. The name struck her as strange though. It wasn’t one she had ever used in any game she’d played. Shrugging inwardly Marigold observed her situation. In the top left corner of her eye she could see three little coloured bars. If her gaming knowledge applied here then the green bar would measure her health, the blue her mana or magic potential and the yellow her stamina. In the bottom right corner of her vision was a square icon that when she focused on opened up a text window labelled ‘Status’ that gave her current condition in detail. It was broken into three sections; Major Stats, Minor Stats and Skills. In the Major Stats was a list of four stats and five points to spend. They read, ‘Strength (8)’, ‘Dexterity (8)’, ‘Mind (8)’, ‘Charisma (8)’. Without wanting to put much thought into it she spent two points on Dex and three points on Mind. The Minor Stats section was empty aside from a message reading, “Raise Major Stats and perform set actions to unlock Minor skills.” The Skill section had a flashing one skill available message. When selecting spends point a list of skills that seemed to scroll without end appeared. Using the search bar rather than looking through every option Marigold selected ‘Healing Magic’.
It was only after she finished allocating points that she realised where she had seen the dank forest before. It was the Forest of Origins from Lost Church Online. Realising where she was brought about a shiver down her back as she recalled the mistake she made the first three tries she played; if you stay in the same place for too long wolves that roam the sea of trees begin to circle you. One wolf by itself was more than a match for a new player, equipped only with cloth clothes and bare hands. Rare was the day that you found one by itself. Looking around she saw the signs; broken small twigs faintly moving bushes and branches. The way to survive LCO character creation was to run out of the woods and then start or choosing a powerful escaping skill to start with. There was another method she’d thought of but never succeeded at. It was really based on luck rather than skill and it wasn’t an option that she’d want to use. She franticly broke a heavy branch from a nearby tree said a quiet prayer to herself and waited for the wolves to make their move.
There were seven wolves in total. They, sensing no danger from Marigold, moved out from their hiding spots to slowly move in for the kill. Quickly scanning her options Marigold quickly found the smallest wolf in the pack. Suddenly bolting into a charge she struck out with her makeshift club. The club collided with the small wolf but with Marigolds limited strength it didn’t seem to suffer much damage. However it was knocked to the side slightly. Not missing the opportunity, Mari ran through the gap in the encirclement aiming for the area lightest with trees. The wolves hardly missed a beat and were after her before she even made two steps. She put her all into running and could see the yellow stamina bar quickly drain as she became steadily more out of breath. The gap between her and the wolves was being filled quickly and she knew the moment she stopped they’d have her.
Airman watched from a distance; safe within a tree. He had put all his points into dexterity, even to the point of decreasing strength, charisma and mind to boost it further. He then got the ‘Rapid Tree Climb’ skill to make best use of speed to jump from branch to branch. As he enjoyed a freedom greater than what he could have in life, soaring through the air, he came across a woman standing around. From the distance he could just make out her name. Marigold Snapdragon; She was relatively short with long straight blond hair and her right side of her face was covered in a scar that could only have been caused by fire. She seemed unaware that she was being surrounded by wolves. He thought about swooping in on a vine and playing hero for only a moment before the reality that he was unarmed made him reconsider. When suddenly she sprinted out bringing the wolves with her Airman decided to climb down to see if she left anything useful behind. After looking around briefly he found a bush ripe with berries. As he ate he heard the sound of footsteps behind him, but before she could turn around he felt a sharp strike to the head.
As Marigold ran she began to lose her sense of direction. With the wolves close enough that she could smell the decay in their dripping drool, Mari desperately prayed for her plan to work. With every clearing that she enter and left the wolves edged closer and her hopes dropped slightly. Eventually she got lucky. She entered a familiar looking clearing to find someone hunched over and unaware. Making the instant judgment that they wouldn’t be able to help her in a fight she made use of them in a different way. Swinging down the branch once more she stuck the person by the bush across the side of the head, dropping him to the ground and reducing his green health bar by half. Mari left the fallen person behind as she ran off once more. The wolves didn’t follow her this time and she sunk to the ground feeling endless relief. The status menu flashed, glowing gold for a moment and her name no read ‘Lv. 2’ instead of ‘Lv.1’.
Monster Player Killing (MPK); when you get monsters to follow you and use them to kill other players. Not only was it apparently possible, but Mari received experience for doing so. Looking through her status she found 1 point available in both Major Stats and Skills. She increased her Mind stat and chose the skill ‘Staff Construction’. In Minor Stats she found several new entries. Animal Control Lv.1’; ‘Backstab Lv.1’; ‘Bludgeoning Lv.1’; ‘Dodge Lv.2’; ‘Foraging Lv.1’; ‘Observe Lv.1’; ‘Running Lv.2’. The Minor Stats seemed to correspond to every action she did and having levels in them was necessary for unlocking some skills.
Carefully creeping back, Marigold found the body of the person she left behind. What was left of it was a bloody mess of crushed and ground bones and organs. The disgust that filled her made her feel dizzy. The smell of rotting flesh made her body want to run away. She had a reason to stay. Forcing herself forward she held down bitter feelings and seized the half eaten skull. After acquiring the ‘Staff Construction’ skill Marigold was able to instinctively realise how to make a staff. Staffs were basically just a long stick with a magical catalyst stuck on the end and a human body was capable of acting as a catalyst. Using that logic she decided that she needed the skull to be as intact as possible. Taking a sturdy branch, about as tall as herself, from a nearby tree and socking it in the blood of the fallen person formed the body of the staff. Vines were used to secure the head after it was impaled on the staff like a pike. When finished text floated above the weapon, it read; ‘Novice Voodoo Staff – Blood Spear’. When she spoke the name aloud a rusty red arrow shot from the head and cut a crater into a tree. The attack was powerful; she wouldn’t have survived being hit by that. The downside, however, was it lowered her health by a tenth. It was an arrow made from blood out of her small body. She could easily kill herself by over using it.
After using healing magic to recover the lost health Mari looked through the berry bush for some fruit that wasn’t coated in remains as she thought about what to do next. If she, Alex, wanted to live again then she, Marigold, would have to beat everyone else. She would have to kill nearly two and a half thousand people. ‘Well, not all of them,” she thought to herself, “They would fight amongst themselves also. I probably just have to wait till the end and kill whoever’s left.” It was then that the reality of her situation hit her. She had died. She was dead. Alex Bellard died in an explosion; as did the other people there with her. If they were all dead, was it even possible for them to be killed. “No.” She thought to herself, “They are dead; dead ghosts standing between her and living again. How dare they? The filthy dead people were stopping her from living.” She smiled to herself as she waited for wolves to gather around her. Humbling a happy tune to herself she skipped through the woods puppies in tow.