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Gamer Fantastic Preview
Posted By Flames On February 19, 2010 @ 9:13 am In Fiction,Previews | 1 Comment
Let the games begin!
From a teenager who finds a better future in virtual reality; to a private investigator hired to find a dying man’s grandson in the midst of a virtual reality theme park; from a person gifted with the power to pull things out of books into the real world; to a psychologist using fantasy role-playing to heal his patients; from a gaming convention where the real winners may not be who they seem to be; to a multi-layered role-playing game that leads participants from reality to reality and games within games-these imaginative and fascinating new tales will captivate both lovers of original fantasy and anyone who has ever fallen under the spell of role-playing games.
Flames Rising is happy to present a selection of excerpts from Gamer Fantastic which is edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Kerrie Hughes. Gamer Fantastic is available now at Amazon.com  and DriveThruFantasy.com .
The time for skulking in shadows was done. At last.
“Longblade! A longblade seeks your blood!” Shouting my battle cry, I spun my sword around my head and sprinted into the throne room.
Kraug Blood of Seven Chiefs, our battle leader, was already bellowing bloody multi-species murder and hacking his way through the main double doors, hewing their stout wood and the blue plate armor of the broad-shouldered knights guarding them with like ease. Ironclad arms and heads fell severed, bouncing, as his moaning, magically-flickering Sword of the Dragon’s Fang sliced and danced.
Saeralil the Velvet Viper—she who jested with me daily, fondly and tirelessly, our usual yammerings echoing two snarling cats—was already leaping down from the balcony, torchlight glimmering on her glossy black catsuit and the knives she was hurling, as they spun sharp and whirling death across the high-vaulted chamber.
More knights fell, her knives in their faces, and behind them the tapestries on the far side of the hall billowed out, aglow with holy fire, as the two stout priests of our band advanced behind them, forcing the heavy fabrics to split and yield, flooding the great room with golden light.
Silhouetting the evil King Thulsrand Droum the Usurper in his high-spired crown, as he snarled in fear and ran right at me.
Wiser for perusing the plans of Dawnspire Castle long-dead dwarven stonemasons had left graven on their own tomb underlids in the Temple of the Hammer God, I had come through the one door Droum had thought was secret. His way out—if he ever needed it—into the dark labyrinth of hidden passages that spread spiderweb-like through the thick castle walls.
Secret no longer.
Now, when his very life was in peril, I alone barred his escape.
His imperial face was frantic as he came, and he hesitated not an instant. His arms swept up, and his pet slayers streaked out of his sleeves.
Two deadly flying snakes came darting at me, jaws gaping.
I danced to the left and sliced back to my right. Only to pull my steel back, beneath an arching serpent that hissed in triumph, turn my blade’s edge upwards, and slice up unto the rafters, hard.
Halves of severed serpent tumbled, shrieking. Gore sprayed, and through it plunged the other flying fangs, arcing in the air to swerve in and bite at my face.
The middle-aged gentleman caller was so agitated the parlormaid had to clear her throat gently twice to make him surrender his silk top hat. He snatched the offending object from his head and thrust it at her without looking. She exited the room silently, her prize in hand, and closed the door behind her.
“Herr Ernest, you cannot be serious,” the man continued the diatribe he had begun at the door. “All of Zurich is laughing at you, if not all of Europe!”
“Please sit down, Herr Dromlinn,” said Professor Gerhard Ernest, a stocky, bearded man in a brown tweed suit. His large, gray eyes were deceptively placid behind the pebble lenses of his spectacles. “I am serious about all my researches. About what may I enlighten you?”
Dromlinn did not sit down. Instead, he paced. He stopped to stare at the brown, paisley-patterned wallpaper, then out the window at the carriages and narrow-wheeled horseless vehicles, and spoke without turning around. “I am your friend, so I am the one sent by our other colleagues to warn you. They say that you will not be permitted to present a paper at the Science Foundation. What you have sent as your proposal is nonsense.”
“It is not nonsense,” Ernest said, with a smile. He leaned back in the upholstered armchair and folded his hands together on his knee. “You know as well as I that the study of psychoanalysis takes on many shapes. We are learning the pathways of the mind. I knew it would sound strange when I wrote my proposal. I thought at least that my colleagues would be open to yet one more means of investigating those deepest secrets we yet lack.”
Dromlinn turned and made a noise as if he was spitting. “Make believe is for children.”
Ernest shook his head gently. “We are all children at heart, Herr Dromlinn. Are we not the sum of our parts?”
“But this is playing, not psychology. We believed you to be serious about finding a cure for mental disorders. This is 1910, not the Dark Ages. You seek a return to the primitive days before science?”
“Play is often a way children work through their concerns. If you have never listened to your daughter scold her doll as she herself has just been scolded, then you do not understand that. I seek to use such a tool to unlock disease. I believe the mind is a powerful force against the disorders of the body.”
Cosmopolis was the city that belonged to every world and none. Or at least that’s what the brochure said, and to give the place its due, it looked like it. A castle covered in gargoyles rose next to a derelict spaceship. Gunslingers, ninjas, and vampires stalked about, and a Tolkien-style dwarf fenced a sci-fi adventurer, battle-axe against laser sword.
Hoping an aerial view would help me find Jason, I’d chosen the persona of a superhero who could fly. But now, sharing the sky with angels and a wizard in a turban piloting a magic carpet, I realized height alone wouldn’t do the trick if the kid’s virtual-reality mask completely changed his looks. As many of them did.
So I shut off my goggles, and all the heroes and monsters, me included, turned into ordinary people in green coveralls. We flyers dangled from a spider web of steel rails, steering by shifting our weight inside our harnesses.
I took a fresh look at the concourse below me, the central area accessing all the “lands” devoted to the various live-action role-playing genres. Whatever games Jason felt like playing, he had to pass through here. But I still didn’t see him.
Maybe because he’d already passed through. If he hadn’t completely changed his looks, it might be worthwhile to go back down to the floor, show his photo around, and ask if anyone had seen him.
I was still considering it when my goggles switched back on of their own accord. A red dot pulsed before me, warning me I was under attack.
Supposedly you couldn’t be attacked in Cosmopolis unless you were willing. But I was a newbie. I’d never visited this or any LARP park before, and maybe I hadn’t adjusted my settings properly.
I looked around. The sorcerer sitting cross-legged on the flying carpet was throwing bursts of fire at me.
“I don’t want to do this!” I shouted. He just thrust out his hands and hurled another blast.
My harness jerked me upward into a spherical structure of rails raised above the ones I’d been traversing, and Carpet Boy hurtled up after me. The hollow ball was an arena. Players could fight there without getting in the way of other flyers.
* * * *
This preview for was provided and published with express permission from DAW. Volume copyright: Copyright © 2009 by Tekno Books and Kerrie Hughes.
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