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Restart Again

Volume 1

Written By: Adam Ladner

Art By: @TsukiZuramaru


The terribly familiar feeling of weightlessness whipped at my stomach as the darkness around me flashed away, replaced instantly with swirling, disorienting colors and shapes. I clenched my eyes shut, which only worsened the sickness I felt in my gut but offered a small relief from the assault of multi-colored lights. My ears were ringing as the sound of a howling wind raged past, adding to the feeling that I was falling down into an unending void.

Anything is better than that darkness...that void.

I shouted something angrily, shaking my head back and forth, but the words were whisked away into the storm. I fought desperately against the assault on my senses as I tumbled headfirst through nothingness.

I’m almost through. Just a few more seconds…

My knees braced instinctively to catch myself from a drop I knew was coming. Even through my eyelids, I could tell the flashing was getting brighter, and the screaming storm around me reached a fevered pitch.

With a final blinding flash and a small pop, everything changed. I landed on my feet with practiced grace as if I had only fallen a few inches. Opening my eyes, I found myself standing before a massive cobblestone wall. It stood at least two stories high, casting an imposing shadow as it stretched out into the distance on either side of me, curving off out of sight. Merlons stood atop the wall with arrow slits dotting their faces. Immediately to my right stood a large wooden gate guarded by two men holding spears, clad in dull iron armor. A queue, starting at the guards and following a well-worn road out behind me, bustled anxiously.

The people in line were as varied as I had ever seen: a pair of tanned, burly men with dark hair and roughspun clothes tapped their feet impatiently behind a hunched, grey-bearded man who seemed to be showing the guards a crystal ball which swirled with smoke and a pulsing purple light. Next in line was a wagon filled with casks, driven by a slim, pale man and pulled by what looked to be a pair of oxen, only with one large, straight horn on the front of their heads. After them came a half dozen women wearing aprons and plain dresses, all carrying baskets of apples on their shoulders; they were followed by a man with furry, vulpine ears pointed up above his head and a bushy grey tail behind him. He pushed a wheelbarrow filled with a strange lavender colored hay.

I sighed heavily, furrowing my brow as I looked up at the bright blue sky above me. Medieval era. Demihumans. Magical items. Temperate climate. Overall, typical high-fantasy fare.

“FUCK!” I cursed, too loudly. The group of women nearby jumped and looked concernedly in my direction. One of the guards looked up from the old man, cocking an eyebrow as he observed me.

“Oi! Get to the back of the line, or I’ll give you something to yell about!” He shared a laugh with the guard beside him.

I rolled my eyes at him. “Get stuffed, loser,” I muttered, not particularly quietly. With an exaggerated turn, I paced towards the back of the line. Many of the people gave me suspicious looks as I passed, though I couldn’t tell if it was due to my outburst or something about me physically. As I reached the back of the line, a few dozen people deep from the main gate, I realized I hadn’t physically taken stock of myself. A quick glance at my vestments confirmed my theory; I definitely did not fit in with the local fashion here.

Still dressed the same. At least the rules are consistent, so far. The thought was comforting in a way, though it was still tinged with bitterness. Reflexively, I reached back and pulled the hood of my cloak up over my head. Made from a soft and supple fabric, colored a rich, deep black, and hemmed with quicksilver embroidery, the garment flowed down my back to my calves. Although it was a bright summer-feeling day, I nestled deeper into the cloak, feeling comfortably cool. Enchantments carried over, too. Good to know. If magic is as common as I think it is in this world, I should probably try and stack those as much as possible before I…

I shuddered and let the thought fade without completing it. Focus. Take stock. Wallow in your self-pity later, I chided myself. Looking down briefly, I was pleased to find the rest of my effects were also intact. A boiled leather chestpiece, dyed a dark blue and chased with the same quicksilver pattern as my cloak. A black bandolier with four silver globes, each about the size of a chicken’s egg, which clinked softly as I ran my hand across them. Slung in the opposite direction across my back, a blue and silver scabbard for a hand-and-a-half sword, currently empty. A black and silver belt with a rather heavy coin purse attached at my hip. I quickly pulled it off my belt to peek inside and was satisfied by the gold and silver coins flashing back at me. My boots, comfortable and broken in with clear signs of use, still seemed—

“Oi!” A voice cut through my meandering thoughts of personal inventory. I had apparently been moving forward unconsciously with the rest of the line and was now face to face with the guards at the gate. The man on the left, standing almost equal height with me at over six feet tall, scoffed as I came to my senses. Beneath his helmet I saw he had a badly crooked nose, most likely from being broken too many times. Blonde, greasy hair fell down over his eyes. “Now, what’s a fancy lad like yourself doing out here with the common folk?”

I shrugged half-heartedly. “Doesn’t really matter, right? I’m just trying to enter with everybody else.”

“Oh, well you see, that’s where

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