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Original Enchantment by Stephen Thaddeus Ward

Read Online Original Enchantment by Stephen Thaddeus Ward Sci-Fi Book

Overview: "Oh devs who art in the issue queue. Hallowed be thy code. Thy commits merge without conflict. Thy will be done in production as it is on local. I'm sure you guys are busy and all, but I can't log out."
As a programmer, Ike knows all about Virtual Dive Experiences (VDX), but when he suddenly wakes up in a virtual game he's never heard of, he’s too busy struggling to survive to worry about how he got there. Luckily, he's got a trick up his sleeve: The ability to program custom enchantments for his gear.
He’ll need that and more to figure out what’s going on, since there’s no tutorial and True Calling plays by its own rules: Your class and race are chosen for you, the NPCs are indistinguishable from the players, every quest is unique, and the GMs keep leaving Ike’s prayers unanswered.


Read Online Original Enchantment by Stephen Thaddeus Ward Book Chapter One Free. Find Hear Best Sci-Fi Books And Novel For Reading And Download.
Original Enchantment by Stephen Thaddeus Ward

Read Online Original Enchantment by Stephen Thaddeus Ward Book Chapter One

Stone acquired

I ke stirred. His thoughts were still half-dreamy, so he wasn't sure what had woken him. Was it his back hurting? Probably just terrible posture sitting at his desk for hours every day. The cold? Maybe he forgot to turn on the heat again. The squeaking sound nearby? He'd fire his cat in the morning. No, it was the smell, like rotten meat mixed with raw sewage.

Something was dead in Ike’s apartment.

Ike spoke the command phrase to activate his home automation system. “Turn on the lights.” Nothing happened. He repeated himself, louder, but the LEDs on the device didn’t light up. He blinked and squinted toward where it normally sat on his bedside table, trying in vain to see anything in the pitch black. Had the power gone out?

As Ike sat up, he immediately became aware of two things. First, that he was completely naked, and second, that he wasn’t in his bed. The floor beneath him was cold and rough, slightly uneven, like cobblestones.

“What the hell?” Ike said aloud, instantly regretting it. His voice echoed around him noisily, giving the sense of a much larger room than he’d expected. He looked around but, try as he might, couldn’t even see his hand in front of his face.

“Hello? Is someone playing a prank on me?” Ike asked, softer but still enough to carry. He listened for someone to answer. “Whatever this is, it isn’t funny.” Other than the same faint squeaking noise in the distance – a rat or a bat, maybe? – the darkness gave no reply.

Ike began to shiver. He justified it because he’d been lying naked on the cold stone floor, but that probably wasn’t the only reason. “I don’t need this right now,” he complained to no one in particular. “I’ve got a presentation at work tomorrow morning.”

Ike began groping around in the dark. Maybe this was all some weird fluke of his tired brain, just a dream or half-awake delusion. He was pretty sure he’d put the flashlight back in the hall closet. He’d just get out of bed and find his clothes. Except he usually slept in them.

As Ike felt along the floor, his hand touched something wet and sticky. He immediately drew back. The substance clung to his fingers like corn syrup and smelled like rust. “Is this,” he sniffed at it more closely, “blood?” A pool of blood on the floor. Plus that awful smell.

Ike scooted a few steps away instinctively, staring at the space where he’d been. The shaking wasn’t from the cold now. His breathing quickened and his heart pounded in his ears. He jumped at the same squeaking noise as before. Was it closer now? He groped around blindly, feeling for anything he could use to defend himself.

Stone acquired.

Ike stared at the text floating in his vision. He turned his head to look at it and the text shifted along with the motion, almost like it was on a heads-up display. He felt his face for goggles or glasses, but his head was just as bare as the rest of him.

“Stone acquired?” Ike said. Then he realized his other hand was resting on a rock on the floor. He sat up straight and turned it around in his palm. It was about the size of a bottle cap and felt smooth to the touch.

 

Ike flinched as the item window joined the earlier text. It moved along with his left hand, apparently following the stone, though he still couldn’t see either of them.

“It’s official. I’ve gone nuts,” Ike said but kept watching. After a few seconds, the original text faded away. The item window continued to float in his vision, following the movement of the stone. He looked away and then back at the window to find it still there. He waved his free hand through it but felt no resistance. He sat the stone down and the window vanished. It didn’t reappear when he picked the stone back up until he started intently feeling the stone again.

“Okay, well, nothing to do but go with it, I guess,” he said. On the one hand, he was talking to himself, which probably wasn’t a good sign. On the other hand, curiosity was helping take his mind off the less pleasant aspects of the situation. “Time for some rubber ducking.”

Rubber ducking, or more fully rubber duck debugging, was something Ike did a lot in his job as a software engineer. He’d often be faced with a confusing work problem, some bug or error that he just couldn’t fix. Early in his career, a senior engineer had taught him the trick of explaining the issue out loud to a rubber duck or other inanimate object. It sounded silly, but it worked; explaining the problem to a silent observer in the simplest terms would often lead him to a solution.

“You and me, Stony. Let’s figure this thing out,” Ike started. “First, let’s start by defining the problem. Or, rather, problems. Plural.”

“First, I don’t know where I am. Or how I got here. Or why I’m naked.” Ike gave that a moment’s consideration. “So, I need to get my bearings. For that, I’ll need light.”

A chill ran up Ike’s spine. This time it was just the ordinary cold variety. “As for the naked part, I either need to fix that or find some other way to get warm, so clothing or fire is priority number two.”

Ike frowned. “There are going to be other things soon, too. Water, food, and some means of defending myself. That might be jumping the gun, though; I don’t have a lot of evidence that I’m in immediate danger.”

Ike looked down at the rock. “You following along, Stony? First, I need light. Second, I need a way to stay warm. Then I can reassess once I’ve gotten some more information.”

As Ike was fidgeting with the rock, the item window reappeared. “On that note, maybe there’s more I can figure out from you. I can’t see a damn thing except for this window of yours. Let’s assume I’m not crazy for now – far-fetched considering I’m talking to a rock – which means this is real.”

“On that note, I should probably test that theory,” Ike said, pinching his thigh none too gently. He winced. “Yup. Real as far as I can tell.”

“So, what does that tell us? First, that I’m not blind; it’s just really dark. Second, that you look a hell of a lot like something from a computer game. On that note, we might as well try a second test.”

Ike cleared his throat and spoke clearly. “Log out.” Nothing happened. “Shut down. Exit. Deactivate. System menu...” He rattled off all of the commands he could think of without any noticeable change. “Okay, then. Game or not, I either can’t log out or I’m just not using the right command. Frustrating, but there’s no sense dwelling on it for now.”

Ike brought Stony up for a closer inspection. “You’ve got stats. Durability, attack, and range. Most game items have some sort of value stat. Maybe it doesn’t show up because yours is zero. You are a rock, after all. Don’t worry, though; you’re worth something to me, buddy.”

Ike rubbed his chin. “These stats imply some sort of combat system. Congratulations, Stony, you’re my first weapon. Too bad you’re probably not enough for me to defend myself with. I’m sure you probably have other uses, though.”

No sooner did Ike consider what he might be able to do with the stone than a menu opened atop the item window. The available options were Enchant and Rename.

“Now we’re getting somewhere,” Ike smiled for the first time since he’d woken. “Okay, so there are things I can do with you. Whatever this interface is, it seems to react to my focus. Handle an item and I get its stats. Think about doing something with the item and I get options. Pretty intuitive as far as interfaces go. I wonder how they programmed it.”

As Ike’s mind drifted, the item window closed along with its newfound menu. Ike chuckled, reactivating them. “Is that your way of telling me to stay focused? Right. Sorry about that. Back to the matter at hand: What I can do with you.”

Ike considered his options. “I don’t see much harm in a small test. How about we make it official?” He focused on the Rename option. A new window appeared with a blank text field. He thought the word, “Stony,” and mentally confirmed. The text field and menu disappeared, revealing that the title of the item window had changed.

 

“Wonderful,” Ike said with muted enthusiasm. “On the one hand, it doesn’t solve any of my problems. On the other, it confirms that I can use this interface.”

Ike sat the stone down, picked it back up, and focused his attention on it, reopening the item window. The item’s new name remained Stony. “And it looks like those changes persist. Possibly handy if I need to pass along information. Assuming that other people can see these windows, of course. And assuming we all see the same information.”

“Okay, time for test four. Let’s see what Enchant does.” Ike mentally pressed the menu option, causing a new window to open.

 

“Huh,” Ike said. “I assumed I wouldn’t start out knowing any enchantments. What does Minor Combo do?” Another window appeared.

 

“Okay, that’s interesting,” Ike said. “I can see how this would be useful on a sword or something, but not on a thrown weapon like a rock. It may be handy at some point, but it doesn’t help me right now. Too bad I can’t just wing it.”

At this, a large, plain-looking text field appeared at the bottom of the enchanting window containing lines of what appeared to be programming code. “Wait. So… I can?” He skimmed through the code. “There are references to a target, a user accuracy attribute, and duration in here. No doubt about it. This must be the code for Minor Combo. Weird that they’d let a player see how the sausage is made like this, but I’m not about to look a gift horse in the mouth.”

Ike read through the code more intently, excited despite his circumstances. “It’s not exactly a system I recognize, but an example’s plenty to try off something simple. What do you say, Stony? Maybe you can help me with more than just your excellent conversational skills.”

Several grueling minutes of trial and error ensued. The code for Minor Combo had used a syntax Ike was already familiar with, so he didn’t make any blatant mistakes. Without documentation or familiarity with the system, though, he was forced to guess with most of it, triggering dozens of esoteric error messages before the interface finally accepted his input.

“That was a pain in the ass,” Ike said. He wiped the sweat from his forehead despite the cold. “Nothing to do now but see if it worked. My money’s on another error.” He hit the button at the bottom of the enchanting window to confirm the custom entry.

The stone shimmered faintly in Ike’s hand, a subtle cascade of colors rippling across its surface like water. A runic marking sprang into being, traced in light as if it were being drawn by an invisible hand. Then, just as quickly as the spectacle had started, everything faded back into darkness.

Stony has gained the enchantment: Glow

Stony’s remaining enchantment capacity: 0 / 1

Mana: 9 / 9 (-1)

You have learned the enchantment: Glow

You have gained experience.

“Hot damn!” Ike cheered, remembering too late how his voice echoed. He winced at the noise and rechecked Stony’s item window.

 

“So, if I just tell you to glow, then…”


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