Game Mechanics

The next few months were going to be busy. Most people on campus were relatively unharmed by the sudden move, which was fortunate because every pair of hands was needed to make this place inhabitable.

The first problem they faced was food. They were nowhere near any civilization they knew of. There was food on campus, but it wouldn’t last long. Therefore, the entire population of the campus spread out as far as they could in their new surroundings, looking for any possible food source. Over these few days, they charted out most of the area. They were atop a large potrero, which descended gradually to the main landmass below at one end and dropped off with steep cliffs on all other sides. At the base of the slope, and extending along one side, was a forest – as in the days of prehistory, they could gather wild fruit and, with some time, begin hunting… assuming there was anything to hunt. It would be hard at first, but they had a shot now.

This allowed them to tend to their next concern. Every building on campus had to be altered slightly to house people. There were no on-campus apartments or dorms. Every other room became a makeshift bedroom for a large group. All large rooms were used in this way.

The third step was to establish a hierarchy. The school administration was still capable of performing its functions, of course, but in this case they were facing the problems of a wilderness outpost rather than a school. They needed leadership to get them through this mess. People in a crisis are usually comforted by having someone take responsibility for the well-being of the group.

Zeke gave a hollow smile. He understood the sentiment, even if he didn’t share it.

He would support whatever leader was chosen, of course, but no matter who they selected, this would not be Someone Else’s Problem. It was not within the power of one person to get them out of here. He doubted it could be done at all; after all the rules were much different here than they were used to. So while they were doing that, he proceeded to tackle problems that didn’t seem to have occurred to anyone else.

For instance, how it was they still had electricity.

Only the campus had been transported. This meant they lacked the use of telephones, since the phone lines no longer connected, and Internet access, for much the same reason. But for some reason, the florescent lights still shone, even though they shouldn’t have any power to make them work.

He was using every resource available to try and answer this question. That amounted to anything applicable in the library or saved to his computer. So far, he was arriving at only one possible answer. The same background energy that was responsible for the creation of the Bloodmark Mentor must be somehow filtering into the system and serving as an electricity substitute. He didn’t like this explanation. It meant the answer was literally “it’s magic”, which by itself was a silly and contrived reason for anything to happen. At the same time, though, he considered certain scientific theories that he had never liked for much the same reason, and decided to put up with it for the sake of getting it over with.

Where magic was concerned, the whole Campus Center, having been witness to the attack, was now discussing it. If magic was real – could they do it too? Nobody was trying to figure this out harder than Lee. His cards had ceased to glow, but consensus among the club members was that the magic only related to the cards symbolically. “Sympathetic magic”, Tom had called it. Lee figured if it had worked once, it would work again. His attempts, however, had met with nothing but frustration. Eventually, he stopped and thought about the cards. If the wild magic in the area had reacted with one of them, it must somehow represent a real spell. Maybe other parts of the game also reflected actual magic. He pulled one of the cards out of his pocket and looked at it.

Mountain.

Minutes passed by as he considered the idea, and then he decided there was nothing to be lost. He tucked the card back into the deck and stepped forward into the middle of the recently-cleared parking lot. He thought about the spell he was going to cast, then focused on drawing the power for the spell from the world itself. Somehow, this was different from his previous attempts, and he could feel it. After building up a bit, he let loose…

A torrent of fire burst forth from his position, and the inhabitants of the Dining Room rushed out to the balcony to observe. Lee was, for a change, silent. He stared at the place where the spell had erupted, and then grinned. Something had just occurred to him. He turned back to face the school and raised his arms. “Fire! I have made fire!” he yelled.

The onlookers weren’t quite sure whether to applaud or laugh.

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