The Fae Worlds

Let’s Play

“Is this really a good idea?” Lucy looked at the box Jenny placed on the desk, and looked at us. “We’re going to jump into a fae created game, hoping it works the way it’s said to, without waiting for confirmation from anyone. There’s a chance this could lead to all of us being trapped.”
“We’ve been through this, Luce.” Ben shrugged. “This is the best way of getting viewers. No one else has made the choice to do this, and, yes, it means we’re the guinea pigs for everyone else, but I think it’s the best thing for us.” He was the one who’d talked us all into travelling to Segiri in the first place, so it wasn’t a surprise he was arguing against Lucy. “I understand the fear.
“I’m not going to say I’m not worried too, because I am. Maybe we will get trapped. I want to believe the fae have tested the game well enough we won’t, and so far I haven’t heard any stories about it happening, which is a good sign. There are several of them out now.” He stood, stepping over to her. “You haven’t heard them either, and the games have sold in their thousands. This is our chance to do something different.
“For the first time we have a chance to stand out. Segiri’s just come out, and it’s exactly our type of game. Jumping into it with cameras to show the world… it feels like the right thing to do. You can step away if you want to. I’m not going to ask you to come with us if you really don’t want to, but I want you there with us, because you’ve been here since the beginning. Without you this won’t feel right.”
Running her tongue over her bottom lip Lucy looked over at me. My only response was a shrug. Making the journey to Segiri wasn’t something I was certain about either, and we’d talked about it a lot in the year since it was announced. Ben, and Jenny, thought it was our chance to really do something different to all the others, because no one wanted to be the first group to Let’s Play a fae game.
At least it seemed that way. Over the two years they’d been coming out no one did a Let’s Play, even though there’d been talk of it more than once. Some said they weren’t certain how it would be possible to take a camera through, and they weren’t wrong about it being a complicated thing to do. Ben came up with solutions to all the problems, making it more possible than it was before, but we were still jumping into a fae game, created with magic we didn’t truly understand.
Slowly, Lucy nodded, turning to Ben once more. “We test it first, no cameras, for an hour – and if we come out of that hour fine we can start fresh, with the recording equipment.”
“Oh, come on. This is all about first impressions. If we have some idea of what it is we’re going to experience it won’t be the same thing.” He shook his head. “We jump in, with the cameras, for eight hours, and show the world what Segiri is like.”
“Putting myself at risk isn’t something I’m willing to do. I play games, Ben, and this…” She gestured at the box. “My sister was one of the people who got herself trapped on another world. Being home… she’s been looking into finding a way back for months, because it changed her life in ways she never thought was possible, and now she feels like she’s trapped here.”
“It won’t be the same for us.”
“You can’t know that.” Lucy stood. “You want to jump into something you don’t understand then go right ahead. It’s not as though I can stop you. I did think you’d eventually see my point of view, but as you haven’t… well, do whatever it is you want to do, and if you come out of it fine at the end I was wrong.”
Before any of us could say anything Lucy left the room. I watched her go, entirely unsurprised by the choice, because I knew how she’d been affected by Alice’s journey. Raking a hand through my hair I glanced at Ben, who was staring at the door. He hadn’t been expecting it, as he wasn’t anywhere near as close to Lucy as he thought he was, and she’d never talked to him about anything to do with Alice, in part due to his inability to empathise with anyone. Understanding the choice would be impossible for him.
Finally, he nodded. “Then it’ll have to be the three of us.” He turned to me. “Unless you’re planning on walking out too, Cal.”
“I thought about it.” I shrugged. “Jumping into a fae game like this isn’t something I’d say was the best choice to make, but we might as well see how it works out. We haven’t heard about any issues, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been any.”
“True. We can’t be certain the fae have been entirely honest with us.” Ben sighed. “I pushed Lucy too hard, didn’t I?”
“A little, although I don’t think this was ever actually something she wanted to do. With what happened to Alice she doesn’t trust magic any more.” I laughed. “I’m not going to say she trusted magic before what happened with Alice. From what she’s said to me before I have a feeling she knows more about it than she’s ever chosen to share.”
“Do you think I should find her?”
“No, not now. If we can get through a few hours of the game safely then maybe.” I studied Ben. “You do know how this all works, right? A few hours for us will be months on whatever world we create. We’re going to build lives as we start exploring, and it’s going to affect our lives in the long term. Lucy talked about that a lot, because she knows what it was like for Alice, and if we go through something similar… well, it’s not going to be easy to leave the world behind.”
Ben nodded again, his eyes meeting with mine. “I have thought about it. This isn’t something I decided to do on a whim, although I can understand why it might seem like that. Jumping into one of the fae games… it’s terrifying and fascinating at the same time.”
“What happens if we do get stuck?”
“Logically the only thing we could do is work through the game to the end. I know the fae made sure there was an end, just in case, even with something as open as Segiri. I’ve got no idea what it is, but I know it’s there. Knowing it’s there is enough for me to be okay with trying this.”
Nibbling on my bottom lip, thinking of everything I’d seen on the fae games, I looked over at the box. There was meant to be an end to all the games, and I’d read stories written by the testers that they’d found those endings were sometimes the only way of getting free from the game. It could be days before we managed to get to that end, especially if we were going for the kind of game we did normally play, but we’d be showing everyone how dangerous they could be. Maybe it was better for it to be us, rather than someone else.
“Four hours.” I looked over at Jenny, who had the box in her hand. “We create a new world, spend four hours learning about it, before working out what our next steps are. For us it will be months.” She turned to Ben. “It’s going to be months of footage, if the cameras work. We’ll be back long before our Let’s Play is over, giving us the freedom to make the decision as to whether we continue with it or not, after the first four hours – and we could have worked with Lucy to only travel there for an hour.
“No matter what our reactions would have been shown, because that hour would be a month. A month is more than long enough for us to really connect with the people there.” She sighed. “As much as I want to do this we have to keep in mind how our lives will change, and why Luce made the choice she did. She wasn’t willing to travel to a world for that long, to become a part of it and have it become a part of her, without being certain she could come home.
“Alice being trapped… she had no idea if it was possible she’d be able to come back. There have always been those who said it’s an impossibility, so she thought it was easier to build a new life, while grieving for the old one. Now all she wants is to go back.” She shrugged. “We have to keep in mind it’s possible we’ll feel the same way.”
Ben blinked. “You know Alice?”
Jenny smiled. “I’ve been working with Lucy for five years, Ben, entirely because of Alice. I knew her first. We met when I was in college.” The smile faded. “By the time I was done with my A-Levels Alice had been gone for six months. I’d got close to Lucy, our relationships with Alice drawing us together, and when Alice came home two years later it was obvious how much she’d changed. She’d been on the other world for a decade.
“Even though we asked her about what it was like Alice didn’t want to talk about it. Lucy and I had already started to do Let’s Plays by that point, which was something she believed was tempting fate, so I can imagine exactly what it is she’s said about the fae games. She’s not going to think for a moment playing them would be a good idea. Lucy walking out makes more sense than you will ever know, Ben.”
He looked at me, and then back at Jenny. “I thought you were the one to start the company, Cal.”
“Yeah, I did, and they were my first hires. From the beginning I knew I wanted to work with the two of them.”
“Lucy was the one who convinced me it would be best for us to work with Cal.” Jenny’s eyes met with mine for a moment, and I could see the amusement in them. “I argued against it, worried about working with someone like him, as though I had any idea who he really was.” She shook her head. “We became friends pretty quickly, didn’t we?”
I smiled, nodding. “We did. Now we need to make the decision as to whether we jump into Segiri without Luce. Having her there would be good for all of us. She has knowledge the rest of us don’t, and, as much as I don’t think a lot of what we know is going to be all that helpful, the more of us we have the better off it is we’re likely to be. Especially if we’re planning on going with a survival world.”
“I can get her.” Jenny shrugged. “I don’t doubt she’s pretty close by, second guessing herself already.” She looked at Ben again. “You’re the one who knows her the least, so why do you want her with us?”
“Like you I know what her skills are. Having her there for something like this makes sense. I want us to be able to do this together, for the first time. She’s kept her distance ever since we started working together.”
“There are reasons for her choices, Ben.” Jenny ran her tongue over her bottom lip. “With us it was simple, in some ways, because she still wanted to let people in. By the time you joined us Alice was back, and Luce… it changed her. The whole experience was so complicated for both of them, in ways I can’t put into words, leading to Luce to close off from everyone unless they were already a part of her life.”
“Not letting people in is easier, sometimes.” Lucy’s voice came from the door, and I looked over at her. She sighed. “Travelling to another world together will have an effect on all of us, for so many reasons, which is something I know from Alice. She told me how different her life was there. How she’d managed to build up something amazing, only to have it torn away from her, and being back here… it’s hard for her. She’s been looking into magics to get her back, because she thinks of the other world as home.”
“You think the same thing could happen to us?” Ben sounded like he didn’t believe it was possible. “That we could build new lives we don’t want to leave?”
“Anything might happen.” Lucy raised an eyebrow. “I know you have your doubts, but then I don’t think you’ve ever met anyone who travelled to one of the fictional worlds. Jen and I know Alice. Cal…” She glanced at me, the question in her eyes, and I nodded. “It’s your story to share. Not mine.”
Slowly, feeling Ben stare at me, I nodded, trying to find the words. “Talking about it’s something I don’t do often, mostly because of how it did affect me.” Rather than look at Ben I turned my attention to the case in Jenny’s hands. “Going to Segiri would be a choice, so very different to what happened before, when I was dragged to another world by the fae’s magic. When I got back it was easier, in a way, to lose myself in other fictional worlds, which led to me needing a way to make an income from it.
“Making Let’s Plays is simple. I still think about the other world, but I know they don’t need me to return. My job was done.” I bit down hard on my lip. “Of course it changed me, and I’m always going to remember the people who’d become a part of my life. It’s impossible to forget them. The same thing will happen when we travel to Segiri. There’s no way it can’t. I’ve thought a lot about this since you first mentioned it.
“Others who’ve been through something similar reacted in different ways to me. Alice is trying to get back to the world she’s come to think of as home. Some people have made the decision to avoid all fiction, so they don’t go through the same thing more than once. I kept working with fictional worlds, because I wasn’t willing to give them up, and I’m also not willing to give up on the chance of going through an experience like our journey to Segiri. There was a voice telling me I shouldn’t be doing it, just in case, but this is what I want to do, so I’m going to do it.”
“Why didn’t you say anything before?” Ben shook his head. “I wouldn’t have been so pushy about all of this if I knew.”
“Being treated differently is something I hate.” I smiled. “Things were never quite how they were before when I got back, which… you never knew, and it was better for me that way, as hard as it might be for you to understand. You being pushy wasn’t a bad thing.”
Lucy nodded. “Alice was the one who said I should be careful, because she treats fiction in a different way to before. I think she’s worried about being dragged to another world when she’s trying so hard to get back to the one she found herself in before. The way she views things affects how I see them.” She shrugged. “Everything I’ve read says travelling to Segiri should be safe. What complicates it is how making that journey will affect our lives.”
Raking a hand through his hair Ben looking between us, and then at Jenny. “What is it you want to do?”
For a moment we were all silent. Lucy’s eyes met with mine, and I knew exactly what she was thinking, because my thoughts were similar. Going would change our lives, the way my previous journey did, but we were too interested in how it would work not to go, no matter what she might have said before. The world was one we could return to, unlike Alice. We’d be able to make things work, one way or another, even if it was likely to be a very strange experience.
“I thought it would be easier to stay back, but thinking about it I’m pretty certain I can’t.” Lucy shook her head. “You’re going to be throwing yourself into something entirely new, and I want to be there, even if you aren’t willing to compromise.”
“Two hours. It will definitely give us an idea of what we’re looking at, and give us plenty of footage.” Ben looked at the cameras. “As long as everything works the way I hope it will.”
“Okay.” She smiled, although it faded quickly. “What kind of world are we going for?”
“Sci-fi survival.” Like he always did Ben sounded certain, as though the conversation from before hadn’t happened, but it was probably for the best if we were about to create a new Segiri. “The kind of thing we’d normally play, so it fits into the channel.” He ran his tongue over his bottom lip. “If we’re lucky it might even give us an advantage.”