Foreword

Monarch Blade is a cutting edge MMORPG. Released in early 2003, it's premise is simple enough, yet deceptively addictive. Assuming the role of a young swordsman, the player fights creatures and other players, gaining experience and equipment, with the ultimate goal being able to overthrow the current ruler of the land and make your name known to all as the leader of the realm. This becomes an ultimate game of king-of-the-hill, as a player's reign over the kingdom lasts only as long as they can keep rival players at bay. Building a huge fan base, Monarch Blade, as of April 2005, has sold over 175 million copies in 12 different languages and will soon go down in history as one of the best selling games ever. As with all games, however, there are a few flaws...some more dangerous than others...

Chapter 1

"PWN'D!"

Zach Woodson leaned back in his computer chair and grinned as he watched his character strike his cheesy battle victory pose. For the third time today he had been challenged, and for the third time today he had won. It was a great feeling, especially considering all the times he had been so mercilessly beaten down by other players. Monarch Blade had changed his life. Before, he had been a hopeless geek with almost no friends and a pasty white complexion due to lack of sun from sitting in his computer room all day. Now, he still is that same hopeless, pasty geek, but now he is able to interact with all the other hopeless geeks around the world under an assumed identity, with nobody ever knowing what he is really like. Escapism can be so fun.

After he finished reveling in his victory, he set his status to "away" and went downstairs to grab himself some dinner. As he opened the fridge, he heard the distant sounds of his TV, in which a soap opera was on, and two characters were making out. He sighed. No girl had ever even taken a second look at him. He had to pay a girl to go with him to the prom, but even then he just sat on the side and watched as all the popular guys were dancing with all the hot girls. "Oh well," he muttered under his breath, "Who needs them. Too much complication." And with that, he slammed the fridge, cursed as he got his finger caught in the door, and then popped his cold pizza onto a plate, as he had always had a thing for cold pizza. As he walked upstairs, chewing on a slice, he thought about what he was going to do in Monarch Blade tonight. His friend in the game, DeltaX, had asked him to join him on a quest for a rare sword that was posted anonymously on the Monarch Blade message boards. Although he thought it was probably a scam created by some wiseass with nothing better to do, he had nothing going on (he never had anything going on for that matter; he was unemployed and living off some unknown uncle's inheritance) so what the hell, right? He woke his computer up, reset his status to "active", and brought up the Monarch Blade server screen. He typed in the password for the Einsteinium server, the area he and DeltaX were traveling into tonight, and soon he met up with him at the local gathering point.

"Hey, how's it going, StormStriker? (this is Zach's screen name for the game)

You ready to check out that lead from the boards?

"I guess, although it all sounds like a stupid scam to me. I mean, who the hell would just leave a Masamune in a cave?"

"Chill out, man. It's not like a Save the Queen or a Triumph Blade were left there. C'mon, let's go!"

And with that, DeltaX drew his sword and starting running off in the direction of the cave. Jamie laughed. DeltaX was a cool guy, but he sure got single-minded about some things. Zach then drew his own sword and chased after him, readying himself for whatever may be in store for them both.