Fortuna Sands

EXCERPT 1-1: THE CURSED

[ Welcome to Fortuna Sands.]

A voice called out in her head as her ethereal body was whisked across the practically barren realm of the digital desert. Beyond the dunes and wild brush was an oasis in the sea of sands. She saw palm trees, city streets, towers of glass and steel appear before her eyes as many figures began walking and going about their lives.

A peculiar sight was the players of this which while human in appearance had certain animal type features. Players with large ears, scaly skin, bulging big eyes and large legs resembled a collection of mythical and real life creatures. People wore accessories like horns, large bunny ears, tusks and various costumes to exemplify these features. As she walked these sights, she heard the voice continue.

[ Long ago, the land was eternal dust, until the 9 great spirits gather together to crease a new oasis. ]

The voice guided her to the center of the city where 9 golden statues rose like pillars around a large auditorium. A leap rabbit, a crouching cat, a fearsome dragon, a majestic horse, a beautiful goldfish, a leaping frog, a serene elephant, a meticulous beetle, and a handsome pig. These were the 9 spirits that protected and watched the oasis or so she had read from the voices narration.

[ Nines spirits of good fortune gathered together to build a city of prosperity calling it Fortuna Sands. ]

She was guided further into the auditorium that resembled a train station with various lockers against the wall and track with several trainings speeding off in 8 directions. At the center of the building was a large ornate fountain decorated with small versions of the larger statues on the outside. The watch sparkled as a player tossed a coin in the fountain and watched as it lit up with a brilliant golden glow surrounding them. As the player jump for joy from the glow, the voice continued.

[ In this city anything and everything can happen, if the spirits see fit to grant you good fate, but remember that fortune that is given can also be easily lost. ]

She felt her astral body being whisked up above the city examining the vast oasis sparkling like a large city of twilight, above her shined a large moon-like gem shining like a large diamond in space circling the city like the hands on a clock. The perpetual state of twilight made the city glimmer like glass and the skies but an empty void above.

[ By the light of the Luck Star, may the spirits guide you and may good fortune smile upon you new comer. ]

Suddenly everything went dark as she felt her body being pulled down to the ground by the simulated gravity being activated as her body began to take its form. She felt the sensation of her toes and fingers wiggle as he landed on soft grass in the middle of an open field. Light illuminated the field like a baseball stadium, as she began to get a feel of her surroundings stretching her hands forward and back wondering how it felt so real and unreal at the same time. Then a series of windows appeared before her face floating a luminance green screen that appeared quickly one after the other.

[ Your appearance has selected as random. ]

[ Your 3 starter skills have been selected randomly. ]

[ Your starter location has been selected randomly. ]

[ Please enjoy your stay. ]

With a wave of her hand the windows disappeared and a large mirror-like window appeared in its place. For the first time, she saw her new form standing before her, it was nothing like she expected but she had not bothered to customize her character in the first place. Her new body has large bulgy legs and arms with eyes as big as saucers, and short green hair that ruffled like a small bush in the wind. Looking at herself with her large red eyes she couldn help but utter a thought out loud for all to hear.

”My god, I look like a frog with a bad haircut. ” She shook her head and muttered to herself. ”Oh, well its not a permanent thing, Im just here to do what I got to do and be done with it. Im in, Im out, no problem. ”

”Boy you must be a really green little froggy, if you can even figure out how to talk to yourself in a VR set up. ” A voice called out from close by.

Turning her head quickly, while almost losing her balance she spotted a nearby place on a bench near the open field. She was a stout husky woman with a stout little nose and set of yellow pig-tails that reminded her of a country girl in the middle of a big city. Although she smiled in a pleasant manner there was a smirk in smile like a cat who had eaten a canary. The pig-tailed player watched as the new player wobbled her way over to her bench taking caution with each step, making her chuckle under her breath.

”I see your walking could use a little work too. ” She said,

”Are you this pleasant with all new players or just me? ” She stared with cold red eyes.

”Nah, Im just pulling your leg froggy. ” She said with a wave of her bulky hand. ”Just a little welcome here humor from lil ol me. We are all newcomers at one point, but from the way you walk I assume this is your first time even entering a VR game, am I right? ”

”What if it is? ”

”Ain nothing wrong with that froggy. ” She shrugged. ”Lots of folks who try VR feel its like riding a bike, others think its like chugging a large drink, you know. Glug, glug, rush, rush. Go. ”

”Lets just say, my dad never really believed in VR too much. ”

”Once again its all good, froggy. Thats why they have safety installments, am I right? I mean VR is good but you need to eat, sleep and use the old pig pen every once in a while. I remember back when the big hoopla hit the news, lots of folks pulled away from VR, but supposedly its still safer than riding an airplane or going to the all you can eat buffet. Its all about how big your appetite is. ”

She rubbed her big belly to emphasize the point.

”Oh, but where are my manners? I haven even given a proper greeting. ” She raised her hand in friendship. ”My names Mary, but most folks just call me Mar. ”

”My names Cee. ” She said reluctantly, shaking her hand back. A window appeared before her eyes, catching her by surprise as she quickly jerk her hand back.

[ Would you like to add ”Mary-Yama ” as a friend? ]

”Ha, you are green, froggy. ” Mary said, slapping her knee. ”Can say I blame ya, in most games you just click and accept but the Sands is more hands on. ”

”How do I get rid of it? ” She said, trying to wave the floating window away like the other screens before her.

”Well, it might be too early to just think it off, but just trying whispering, that usually works for beginners. ”

”Ahem, no. ” Cee whispered with her hand across her mouth.

”Its alright no sense making friends if you don wanna, but it might help while you
e getting the lay of the land. ”

”Im not here to play, Ive got business. ”

”How mysterious, but not uncommon. ” She shrugged again. ”Most folks come here just to chat rather than play, but I won bug ya for any details. Where-a-bouts are you headed froggy? ”

”Im looking for a place called Weis Pawn. ”

”Can say I know the name. ” She shook her head. ”Yet, if you want to ask directions, you might try going to the hub for information. Its got a map and everything of every business in the Sands. You could take a train close but you might attract a lot of Jinxes along the way. ”

”Jinxes? ”

”Wow, you didn take the tutorial did ya? ”

”I didn know there was one. ”

”Weee-yeww. ” She laughed getting up from her seat. ”You really just jumped the gun now didn ya. ”

Cee started to walk away when Mary jumped out in front of her.

”Whoa, hold on there froggy. Im not laughing at ya, Im just amused because we don get too many steam rollers around here lately. ”

”Is that an insult? ”

”Consider it a compliment, froggy. ” She said standing beside her. ”Theres a lot of rollers in this game, high, low and every way in between, and they don leave anything to chance. Its all just playing the odds, pulling the perfect con, taking all the fun out of the game. Not saying you can make a little money if you want, just kills the whole thrill for me. Yet, if you go out there without knowing what you
e getting into youll get booted out before you make it 10 feet outside the park. ”

”Then what are you suggesting? ”

”Well if your business can wait a few more moments, maybe I can teach a little of the basics first. I don mean a full tutorial but enough to get you by from her to the Hub station. What do you say, froggy? ”

Cee was anxious to leave this game, and any delays would be pushing her luck. However, given her current status, if she didn prepare herself a little then a day could turn into one or two more if she wasn careful. So, with a deep breath and a sign she decided to trust this player if only for the moment.

”So, where do we start? ”

”At the tippy top, froggy, at the tippy top. ”

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