[For Part One, start here]
Twenty-four hours later, Ipsum was still missing.
Three days later, Grant began to panic. Morphestus the Ruiner was coming. The big, game-wide event that only the most powerful characters could even think of joining was just days away. The guild wanted to try and fight the big bad monster, but it would take a dedicated leader to assign them all to various parties, to arrange the correct healers and damage dealers and damage takers and...and Ipsum was nowhere to be found. Worse yet, Xavus was the second-in-command and would have to lead.
Five days later and people stopped asking about Ipsum. They just started to leave the guild. No reasons were given. He looked at the dwindling number of members and realized they had no chance to beat Morphestus.
Grant returned to REnerd. He hated having to do it, but he was going to post on Ipsum’s page.
GRANT EVERETT SAYS: what’s up? Morphestus is in 3 days
He forced himself to check for a reply only every half hour. Despite his patience, he saw nothing.
Grant returned to NEXUS empty-handed. By the time he looked at the guild stat screen, he found that only thirteen people remained. Why had there been such an exodus? Was it really because of Ipsum’s absence? He was a cool guy and a damn good Deathstalker, but Grant didn’t think things should be going to hell this quickly.
Ipsum was still missing when the Morphestus event came.
Grant was determined to see it, whether he was with a group or not.
A huge smoking crater sat in the middle of a desolate field. Dead trees burned in the flat gray land. There were no quest-givers or NPCs of any sort. There weren’t even enemies wandering through the area. Morphestus, devourer of mortal minds, was coming to wreak havoc in NEXUS and a place had been set aside for him ever since launch day.
A clock appeared at the top of the screen. It read COUNTDOWN TO MORPHESTUS: 30:00
Thirty minutes? That’s how long he had before the biggest boss ever touched down in NEXUS? Grant thought about rallying those who were left in the guild, but they probably wouldn’t answer him. It didn’t matter. They still would not be enough to take down Morphestus.
An avatar came running into Grant’s view. The black-and purple armor was instantly familiar.
XAVUS: Ipsum! You’re here!
IPSUM: *Ipsum dances*
XAVUS: Where have you been? The guild is pretty much gone now!
Ipsum stopped dancing and turned to Xavus. Almost a full minute passed before he replied.
IPSUM: Xavus! How’s it going, man?
XAVUS: Dude, I just told you. The guild is an empty mess and we’re in no way ready for Morphestus.
IPSUM: We can do it if we try.
Back in meatspace, Grant slapped his forehead.
XAVUS: The event has already gone live over in Japan. I read that even 40-man parties can’t take him down. No one has beaten him yet. People are kinda freaking out.
IPSUM: We’ll be the first. *Ipsum flexes*
XAVUS: He’s going to touch down right here in 30 minutes. Our best bet is to just get away from here and watch from a distance.
IPSUM: Why are you here then?
XAVUS: I had nothing else better to do.
IPSUM: That’s as good a reason as any to try! *Ipsum laughs*
He was still laughing when the huge shadow loomed over them and let loose its deadly cry.
A half hour later, they were able to drag their corpses away from the encounter. Hundreds of dead player bodies lay around the crater that marked the site of Morphestus’ landing. The game lagged as though time was something to be experienced in stuttering gasps and frantic moments of freedom. NEXUS just
couldn’t handle that many players in one place and when they all died, it couldn’t handle them trying to resurrect themselves.
Finally, Ipsum and Xavus revived themselves and sat at the Thornhold, the best inn in the whole game. Dozens of players filled the tavern, telling stories about how they had gotten killed at the Morphestus event.
XAVUS: What the hell happened back there?
IPSUM: Too many players, I guess. Pretty brutal lag, right?
XAVUS: No, not that. Sure, we were up against something even the most elite guilds couldn’t take. I’m saying it just looked like you were hitting the boss with your swords.
IPSUM: Well, I don’t have spells like you.
XAVUS: But you weren’t using any of your Deathstalker techniques. Nothing to help you hit harder or more frequently. When your hit points got below 50%, you didn’t even drink a potion. It’s like someone else was playing.
IPSUM: Maybe I’m rusty. I’ve been gone for a while, you know.
XAVUS: Yeah, I guess. Sorry.
IPSUM: Hey, Xavus.
IPSUM: Remember that time when we fought [SCENARIO NOT LOCATED] and we totally wiped?
A chill rippled through Grant.
XAVUS: What are you talking about?
IPSUM: Haha, that was a great time.
Grant stared at the monitor. Sweat beaded up on his forehead. He shivered even though his room was set to a consistent 72 degrees.
Xavus: Yeah, remember that time when we crashed the server after killing the King of Kuruma?
Ipsum: Oh man. That was awesome. Classic. Just classic.
He and Ipsum had never crashed the server. Grant had lied.
Without saying goodbye, Grant logged out of NEXUS and logged into REnerd again. Grant didn’t need to scroll far to find out what had happened to his only friend in the world.
DAKOTA VASQUEZ SAYS: I’m so sorry for your loss.
KIMBERLY BROWN SAYS: I hate cancer! can’t we get a fundraiser together to help stop it? I got like five bucks
AMOS DAGUERRO SAYS: He fought as long as he could. At least he doesn’t hurt any more.
FRANCINE GIONOVETTI SAYS: Thank you all for the kind words. I know that Gregory would be happy to see so many friends come together for his Celebration of Life. I’m going to leave my son’s page up as a symbol, so that there isn’t a hole in your friend list. He lives on, he’s just not here anymore.
Grant logged out of Renerd and stared at his monitor for an hour, not believing what he read. Ipsum was dead. And yet still in NEXUS.