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Here is the third snippet for LMBPN’s latest series, Middang3ard.  Book one is coming!


Robert "Suzuki" Fletcher stared into the flames of his campfire, his avatar's kite 
shield resting against his knee, as he ran a whetstone over the edge of his sword. 
The stone gave off a soft, almost crystalline hum as he went about his work.
Suzuki knew he was sharpening a virtual blade. That his hand, encased in its 
virtual reality glove, was empty back in his apartment as he ran it over nothing. 
But it felt so real, the stone resistant against the hardness of the blade. Of 
course,it was just his VR suit's exoskeleton hardening to give the illusion of 
resistance…not that he really cared.
In the game, sharpening his sword would increase his percentage chances of success, 
and right now he needed any edge he could get.
Pun intended.
He also needed to think, and methodic repetition helped clear his mind.
After all, he was in the Expansion of Middang3ard, and the gamemasters hadn't made
it easy. He and his fellow party members—the Mundanes—had been here for days, trying
to puzzle out how to enter the Expansion's temple.
And they weren't alone.
Throughout the forest, dozens of small campfires burned as if the other players were 
trying to light the earth on fire to fight against the blackness of the firmament 
hanging above. Players crowded around the fire, their suits emanating warmth, as 
they nursed their wounds and spoke in soft murmurs.
Even though there were hundreds of adventurers, most of them allies, Suzuki had 
never felt more unsafe in Middang3ard than he did at that moment.
Suzuki stopped running the stone along the blade, silencing the hum, and turned his 
ear toward the tree line, trying to listen for danger.
But the forest sounds of Middang3ard were an indecipherable blur next to the hushed 
whispers from the other camps.
Being huddled together in such a group made everything too loud.
Safety in numbers, he mused. But then again, if they were away from the group, they 
wouldn't be such a large target, and they could, well, listen for danger.
Suzuki really wasn't sure which would be best, alone or in a group, and, figuring 
that it was half a dozen on the one hand and six on the other, he went back to his 
thoughts and his blade as he tried to figure out how to solve the secret to opening 
the door to the Expansion.
Beth, Stew, and Sandy were sitting by the fire, no longer bantering. They'd all been 
there for hours and were getting bored, as Stew made clear when he stood up and 

"I can't keep doing this. I mean, I got a life."
Beth smirked. "What life? This is our life." Of all the Mundanes, she was the most 
dedicated to the game. "I mean, you deliver pizza, I'm a telemarketer, and Sandy 
here…what do you do again?"
"I'm part of a marketing enterprise dedicated to fulfilling your make-up and 
accessory needs."
"In other words, you're part of some pyramid scheme?"
Sandy nodded. "That I am."
Beth pointed the dagger she had been using to whittle a virtual twig at Stew. "So, 
what life do you need to get back to, exactly?"
Stew cracked his neck. "Whatever. My point stands. We should be doing something."
    Sandy threw some twigs into the fire. "Sitting is something."
    Stew "Leeroy Jenkins" Harris rolled his eyes. He was a good head taller than 
anyone else in the party, his massive body perfect for the role of barbarian. He 
stood and started to pace. The loose animal skin that covered him swayed to his 
movement so realistically that one might believe they were actually in a forest 
and not at home, strapped into VR suits.
    Beth "GameOver" Lovett glared at Stew, putting back her dagger before pulling 
out her sword and pointing it in Leeroy's direction.
Her armor was not as heavily plated as Suzuki's, but still thick enough to offer 
a good amount of protection. "Don't you fucking dare start, douche nozzle." She 
pushed back her short-clipped hair, exposing the handful of small scars that 
covered her left cheek. "Do you remember what happened on the last raid when you 
started to get all antsy?"
    Stew shrugged. "If I remember correctly, it was me pulling goblins off of your 
    "Because you triggered every trap in the damn building."
    Sandy "DeeStruck" Poples nodded as she stretched her long slender body in 
exaggerated boredom. "None of us are playing this so we can sit around. Plus, Stew 
has all those gorgeous muscles that he has to put to use."
As she spoke, she absentmindedly cast a spark spell that sent tiny glints of 
electricity floating up in the air. Loose robes draped the sorceress's body, and 
she appeared to be a priestess from ancient times who  worshipped pagan gods using 
dark arts long lost to humanity.
    Stew struck an Olympian's pose. "Thank you very much, DeeStruck." Even though 
Sandy's handle—DeeStruck—was a bit camp, he pronounced it reverently, because he 
knew exactly how she'd gotten the name.
He also knew that anyone who made fun of her in-game handle would quickly die for 
the mistake.
Stew flexed his avatar's pecks, making them dance to some silent drum. It was 
impressive because it meant Stew actually had those pecks. The VR game only 
exaggerated your traits, it didn't make them up.
Unlike so many of the other, far less successful VR games on the market, 
Middang3ard did not let you play other races or customize your looks. You were 
what you were in real life.
Only a bit more so.
"These biceps crave destruction." Stew did a couple more body-building poses 
before plopping himself down by the fire, saying, "Can we at least go check out 
the door again?"
    He slapped Suzuki on the back, jarring the warrior-mage from his thoughts 
and back to reality.
Well, what passed as reality these days.
"You know what?" Suzuki asked with a nod. "For once, Stew is right. We do need to 
do something. Gear up. Let's check the door and see what we missed."
"Oh, hallelujah." Beth groaned. "I'm pretty sure that Stew being right is one of 
the signs of the apocalypse."


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