As soon as Lawrence pressed the activate button, the clunky box of metal and function chips began to glow and floated several feet off the floor, spinning slowly. This was always Lawrence’s favorite apart of creating new items and functions; the testing. It reminded him of the scene from Beauty and the Beast when the Beast turns back into a human.
The process took several seconds as the EmVee ran tests on the functions and graphics. Every new item that was created for the virtual Multiverse ran through the safety and compatibility checks, running the new files through a virtual sandbox disconnected from the rest of the virtual reality to ensure that it did nothing harmful. Once the system deemed it safe and without serious defects or bugs, then the light surrounding the object would glow blindingly bright before vanishing in the blink of an eye, leaving behind the new item with its graphics file loaded. In this case, the hunk of metal glowed so bright Lawrence had to look away, and when he looked back there was the necklace with the silver and gold snakes floating in the air.
Lawrence stepped forward, snatched the item out of the air and dropped it into his inventory. He checked the time; it was almost 6 AM on the West Coast. He had an appointment to meet with his boss’s boss’s boss, the head of CyberSecurity, and the investors at noon today. This would give him six hours to put his plan into motion. He pulled up a browser and checked the in-game time of the Dark Haven world.
Dark Haven was a fantasy role-playing game that Lawrence had helped design and program. He even had the opportunity to create a number of characters in it. To date, Dark Haven had one of the most expansive fantasy worlds and had the highest number of side quests for players to follow. This was because they left the game open sourced so anyone could go in and create new content for it.
All new content had to be approved, of course, but with hundreds of new quests, towns, cities, characters, and stories being submitted every day, the game was always growing and expanding faster than anyone could play through it all. It was in the Dark Haven realm that Lawrence had hidden a character of his own creation, one that meant a lot to him for sentimental reasons, and one he genuinely felt would be the best match for this new plan.
The in-game time was just before Noon. Dark Haven was a fantasy realm with no modern technology; if he tried to bring anything that didn’t exist in this realm it would vanish from his inventory and reappear at his home inventory. So, Lawrence traded out his WORK loadout for his NOMRA loadout, which swapped his avatar’s clothes from a casual suit and clean face to a Wizard’s robe and a thick beard. The new loadout also dropped his virtual laptop and cell phone into his home inventory and loaded up a collection of runes, stones, and his staff.
Once he had his character situated Lawrence left The Forge, as he called his programming studio, and went down the hall to the portal room. Every virtual home had a portal which could be used to teleport an avatar to any other portal inside the entirety of the EmVee. Any player could register 2 locations as work, one location as school, and one location as personal. These destinations were free to teleport to. Aside from those four destinations, players could teleport, for free, to any other player’s house so long as they were on the guest list. Any other destination cost credits.
Lawrence had Dark Haven listed as his personal location. He pulled up the icon for Dark Haven, clicked confirm and vanished from his house. He loaded into the main hub of the Dark Haven realm, where he then pulled up a map of the realms inside the game and scrolled through it to find RivenWood. Fortunately, Lawrence had spent so much time playing Dark Haven that he had unlocked nearly every portal in the game, and since Dark Haven’s portal system could only travel between locations inside Dark Haven, they were free to use as well.
Lawrence found RivenWood, tapped the portal icon, clicked confirm, and vanished from the hub to reappear inside the basement of the RivenWood inn. He checked the time again. RivenWood ran on a four to one schedule meaning four days passed in the game for every day that passed in the real world. Right now, being six am in the real world meant it was almost noon in RivenWood, which meant the person he sought would soon be heading to the inn for lunch.
Lawrence ran upstairs and sat in his guest’s usual seat to wait for them.