Chapter 1

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Kairi booted up her PC and chewed her bottom lip with worry and anticipation. She had lost track of time at work and had rushed home as quickly as she could. She didn't want to let everyone down by being late to the game. As soon as the computer's welcome screen was up and her colorful desktop background displayed, she clicked on a sword icon to open Heart of Worlds.

That's right. 25-year-old Kairi Uchida was playing an online game. An MMORPG to be exact. Others might think she's too old for games, but you can never be too old to enjoy video games, especially with online friends. After a grueling 9 hours at the office, she needed to let go and immerse herself in the fantasy world of Heart of Worlds, a medieval online game very much like Runescape or World of Warcraft.

Kairi had joined the Kingdom Hearts clan a few months ago and already felt like she had a home with the other members. Her last clan had dissolved after several players slowly left the game over time due to real life responsibilities or just wanting to try something new and different in another gaming world. Kingdom Hearts was much smaller than her last clan, consisting of only herself, Fainn, Geir and a couple of other members that weren't online much. Fainn and Geir played often at the same time that Kairi was available, which worked for her. She was also pretty sure the two guys knew each other in real life, but they didn't really talk about IRL things...

Finally, the game interface popped up, ready for Kairi to type in her username and password.

Welcome to Heart of Worlds!

Username: Ariae

Password: ********


New Message from: Fainn

Ari, where the hell are you? We need you if we're gonna win this.

Smiling slightly at her in-game nickname which was just a shortened version of her avatar's name, Kairi sent back a private message to Fainn, silently praying she hadn't missed it. A few seconds later he came back with a quick reply.

[Fainn]: OTW to Thebes for the 3-headed dragon. Can you make it??

[Ariae]: OMW, teleporting now.

She cast a teleportation spell on her character and moved her to Thebes. Thebes was a poor city in Heart of Worlds and seemed to always be in danger of big enemies. A newsletter was sent out yesterday from the game developers to let all players know that an enormous three-headed dragon would be paying the town a visit. Who was brave enough to fight the fire-breathing beast? Kairi and her gaming friends of the Kingdom Hearts clan were.

Kairi's avatar landed in Thebes and was thrust into the clan chat, a chat only shared between clan members when they were all in the same location together.

Ariae joined the clan chat.

Fainn joined the clan chat.

Geir joined the clan chat.

[Fainn]: I got melee.

[Geir]: Maging.

[Ariae]: I'm ranging then.

Kairi quickly switched out her character's light iron armor for a fire-proof brown leather set and swapped her long sword for a high level bow. She equipped her best arrows as the other two also switched into their equipment for the fight: Fainn into a heavy set of black armor and double battle axes and Geir into a set of purple fire-proof robes and a scepter that glowed blue in color - probably water-based to counter the fire-breathing powers of the three-headed dragon Kairi assumed.

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