I could hear the pestering of the rain as I awaited my bus to arrive. My shift was done and I could not bear being at my workplace any longer. The bus driver must have a vendetta against me because he was way later than usual. The sun was on the verge of setting and the nightly chill creeped up on me.

The fallen leaves tell a story.

My face lit up, if only just a slight, as I saw the bus arrive. I was met with the regular snarky remark from the driver. He commented on my disheveled appearance and I couldn't agree more with him. Notwithstanding my agreement, I couldn't help but feel offended. I sluggishly sat down in one of the rows and leaned my throbbing noggin against the glass. Headaches never used to be so bad.

The great Elden Ring was shattered.

I arrived back at home after twenty minutes. Hurriedly and sloppily I got my keys out, my wet hair clinging uncomfortably to my face. Never was my home more appealing. Normally I would regard it as lamentable. Although, rent for my apartment was cheap. Well, as cheap as a living space could be; meaning that I'm still struggling to pay for it each month. My home was sort of pathetic, I will admit.

In our home, across the fog, the Lands Between.

Rushing to the cupboards, I looked for some Advil and fortunately I still had some. I swallowed a capsule to ease my stinging headache. Work was extra laborious today and the strings in my mind were slowly coming unwound. The beams holding me together were snapping. Heh, well I suppose this was always the way things were going to play out. For someone like me, there was no place in society.

Now, Queen Marika the Eternal is nowhere to be found, and in the Night of the Black Knives, Godwyn the Golden was first to perish.

Do not make the mistake of thinking me some criminal or pariah or outcast. It's a lot more mundane than that. Fitting for the vapid, trite, and uninspired fool that I am. I failed to meet who I needed to be, who I wanted to be.

Soon, Marika's offspring, demigods all, claimed the shards of the Elden Ring.

Routine is not inherently a bad thing. It often brings comfort and stability but it grinds your brain into ashes if it doesn't have any ultimate meaning. Each and everyday a new headache. And I work at a place where I'm afraid of being replaced. I could be replaced easily at any moment. When the hat drops, I'm gone.

The mad taint of their newfound strength triggered the Shattering.

Sometimes I think to myself, 'If only there was someone besides me.' I wouldn't want to give them my pains but just having somebody would motivate me. 'Someone to care about would be nice,' I think to myself.

A war from which no lord arose.

I'm being selfish.

A war leading to abandonment by the Greater Will.

I put away these thoughts in hopes of escaping for a while. Video games do just that for me. They bring me into a new world with people I would love to meet or love to be. Always knowing what to say, always knowing what to do, and always coming out victorious in the end. I wish I was that. But no one is really like that. Especially not me.

Arise now, ye Tarnished.

I sit down at my computer and browse to find any game that I could get sucked into. Any game that would allow me to think about anything other than my life.

Ye dead, who yet live.

What do I have to do? All the choices that I've made led me to where I am now; I don't want to be here. I don't want to be "that community college kid" at family gatherings. The one who turned out "so-so". But I have a deep feeling that it's too late to go back. Too late to turn everything around.

The call of long lost graces speaks to us all.

No power to my name.

Hoarah Loux, chieftain of the badlands.

No money to my name.

The ever brilliant Goldmask.

No one to have.

Fia, the Deathbed Companion.

I'm nothing.

The loathsome Dung Eater.

I know nothing yet I try to act like I do.

And Sir Gideon Ofnir, the All-knowing.

Who am I?

And one other.

Whom grace would again bless.

A Tarnished of no renown.

Before I answered that question, I spotted a game.

"Elden Ring?"

Cross the fog, to the Lands Between.

Soon my room became shadowy as if sprayed in squid ink; dark patches grew until the entire room was unrecognizable, cloaked in a robe of darkness. I fell out of my chair as it disappeared from under me.

I got up and frenziedly looked around. It all happened so fast. Was I having a weird psychological problem? I don't feel crazy but then again, I wouldn't know what that feels like.

Light blasted my face as I witnessed large, ancient doors open up the darkness. Golden rays of light flooded the room, the beautiful sight blinding me.

To stand before the Elden Ring.

Do I… do I go through? I wouldn't want to retreat back into the abyss but I know not of what lies beyond that light. I hesitated, looking back between the lit entrance to who knows where and the deep vacuum that lies in wait behind me.

And become Elden Lord.

I guess there was no other option for me. Either rot in the cold, damp blackness or take my chances. I decided to take my chances.

Please let there not be death on the other side.